Legally sell tortoise shell?

An elderly friend gave me several pieces of what I believe are sea
tortoise shell that her deceased husband collected probably 60 years
ago around Tahiti. Can I make things from this shell and legally
sell them?

I have a project to give 7 Haitians in Port-au-Prince a way to earn
a living by making bead and wire jewelry. I try to sell what they
make - they can make more than I can sell. We now have a website - Please advise on ways I can increase sales of
this kind of jewelry. We did have one catalog order this year, which
I hope to continue, for which we made 600 pieces. This order made a
huge difference in the amount received by workers. I mostly provide
the materials free to the workers, but when I got the order for 600
pieces, it was too large for me to carry, so I repaid myself for
that one. Last year they got an average of a little over $200 U.S.
(National average income in Haiti is $250 U.S.) This year they have
already earned over $500 U.S. each. I need more markets so we can
expand our group and give more people a way to feed their families.
Katrina was bad, but Haiti is like New Orleans after Katrina every
day of every year.

Lynn Bowen


Have you spoken to anyone in the Fair Trade community about your
efforts in Haiti? Your project sounds a lot like the cooperative
efforts they work with, and that might be a way to tap into some
marketing expertise and resources. For example, the Fair Trade
Federation has a site offering links to companies offering Fair Trade
projects, and Co-Op America publishes the National Green Pages (which
includes an online searchable directory) of companies that offer
socially and environmentally responsible products. You can check them
out at and

I’d also like to talk with you a little bit at some point: I’m
writing quite a bit about socially and environmentally responsible
companies lately, and I’m hoping to do more, especially as the
Christmas shopping season approaches. I’ll add your e-mail address to
my files, and perhaps we can schedule an interview when I start my
next article.


Suzanne Wade
suzanne AT