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  • ARTICLE 22

    from Laos, Laos

    Turning bombs into love.

ARTICLE 22 storefront-large

About ARTICLE 22

The story behind ARTICLE 22 is one of war and peace. Destruction and reconstruction. Of a sad history turned into a positive future. During the Vietnam conflict, the country of Laos was on the receiving end of a nearly decade-long aerial bombardment intended to halt the spread of communism across Indochina, making it the most heavily bombed country per capita in history. Called the Secret War, more than 250 million bombs were dropped on the country from 1964 to 1973. Of the bombs dropped on the country, one-third of the weapons did not detonate. To this day, these unexploded life-threatening weapons litter Lao farms and fields. Because an overwhelming majority o

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Buying Back The Bombs

For People in Laos, the Vietnam War Never Ended. Here's How You Can Help.

 

We love products that have a deeper meaning—and no one digs deeper and comes up with more meaning than Article 22 (which, incidentally, is named for the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Turning war debris into jewelry that spreads a message of peace? Now that's the bomb.

 

By NANCY MACDONELL

 

Briefly

 

Article 22 is a sustainable fashion company that creates jewelry from unexploded bombs that were dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War, thereby giving Laotian artisans and their families economic independence and helping to clear the countryside of tens of millions of weapons of mass destruction.

 

 

 

The Whole Story

 

During the Vietnam conflict, in a covert operation that was intended to halt the spread of communism in southeast Asia, the United States dropped more than 250 million bombs on Laos, making it the most heavily bombed country, per capita, in history. Eighty million of these weapons failed to detonate and remain there to this day, turning the simple act of farming—which 70 percent of Laotians depend on for their livelihood—into a potentially deadly undertaking. Article 22 works with Laotian artisans to create jewelry from these implements of war.

 

 

 

The Products

 

Faced with a countryside laced with unexploded bombs, Laotian artisans devised an ingenious response: They melted down the metal and turned it into spoons. "That's when I realized that there is so much talent out there and that the local traditions will be lost if they're not connected to a market," says Article 22 co-founder Elizabeth Suda. "I thought, 'we need to create a bracelet that will literally buy back the bombs.'"

 

Today, these same artisans use re-appropriated bomb material to make hand-cast jewelry. For each piece sold, Article 22 donates money to have up to thirty square meters of land cleared, freeing it up for much-needed food production and village development. The villagers have gone from subsistence living to earning a yearly wage that is greater than what a Laos government worker makes.

 

 

Five Minutes With Founders Elizabeth Suda and Camille Hautefort

 

Q: How do you want to change the world?

Elizabeth Suda: I want to give people the opportunity to make meaningful purchases without changing their lifestyles. I want them to know the origin stories of their products. And I want to give back to the people who make those products.

 

Q: What experience have you had that's made the greatest impact on the way you work?

Camille Hautefort: When I was young I had the opportunity to participate in a lot of sports competitions. It taught me that every time you do something you have to persevere.

 

Q: What are you most proud of?

ES: Our authenticity. From the materials to the way the products are made to the stories they tell.

 

Q: What advice would you give your younger self?

CH: If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough.
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