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August 2 2014

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Handmade for the Holidays

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The mere mention of exfoliating with a cactus would make anyone’s skin crawl, but in partnership with the Ya Munts’i B’ehña cooperative in Mexico, The Body Shop has managed to turn a prickly situation into something that will warm your heart (and soften your limbs). The do-gooder beauty brand is no stranger to Fair Trade—a practice that supports small-scale farmers and craftsmen by purchasing their bounty at “independence-building” prices. Among the twenty-five suppliers the company works with worldwide are three hundred Ñahñu women who live in the desert north of Mexico City. They use the Maguey cactus native to their surroundings and traditional techniques that stem back to the Aztecs to produce an artisanal sponge. Creating the fiber involves a long, arduous process (seen in the photos below): The enormous, rosette-like plants must grow for nine years, the leaves (which can be over six feet long) are then cut, burned over an open fire to remove the caustic sap, buried in the ground for three days, scraped by hand to remove the fibrous material, and hung to dry. The women then spin the cactus into thread and knit a mitt that is later stuffed with more dried cactus. At $5 each, giving back and getting a special gift for everyone you love during this season of excess has never been so simple.

Available, beginning November 14, at www.thebodyshop-usa.com.

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