Category Archives: Responsible Fashion

Meet Our Seamstresses for Fashion Revolution Week

Do you ask your favorite brands, #WhoMadeMyClothes? Production at Wildlife Works provides full transparency for our clients and their customers. Meet some of our tailors and learn about their aspirations.

Meet MAGDELINE (far left). She’s in charge of quality control at the Wildlife Works Eco-Factory. She has one son who is 3 years old who attends our 100% subsidized Wildlife Works Nursery during the day while Magda is at work. She’s proud of being able to support herself and her child through her salary. On the weekends, she takes care of her 15 chickens at home. Yes, 15! 

Meet ELPINA. She has been working at Wildlife Works for 6 years. Before being employed at Wildlife Works, she owned a shop. She said it was a hard life, especially when she had no money to pay for rent. Today, with wages earned from sewing in our eco-factory, she owns a piece of land and a house in Maungu where she lives with her two children. She hopes to one day save enough money to buy a shamba for her son. 

Meet CONSTANCE. She is the factory quality control supervisor. She’s been with Wildlife Works for 12 years and came from a sewing background. She is one of 5 children in her family and she uses her salary to help her mom, in addition to supporting herself. She enjoys learning to work with different materials, from knits to wovens and going to church on the weekend. 

Meet ZANIRA. She has been with Wildlife Works for 3 years, since she was 19, a year after graduating from secondary school. Her background in administration makes her a key person in the running or the factory and shipment of orders. She loves fashion and enjoys her self-sufficient lifestyle made possible by her work here at Wildlife Works. 

Meet NORA. She has been an employee at Wildlife Works since 2002. She has 4 kids, the oldest at 18 years old and the youngest who is 4 1/2 years old. Before joining Wildlife Works, Nora worked from home sewing clothes. She likes the stability of having a salary and being able to provide for her kids. One day, she hopes to run her own business again.

Fashion Revolution Day Events: San Francisco Bay Area

Fashion Revolution Day Events San Francisco Bay Area

On 24 April 2013, 1,134 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured when the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. That’s when Fashion Revolution was born.

On 24 April every year, Fashion Revolution Day brings people from all over the world together to use the power of fashion to change the story for the people who make the world’s clothes. We want fashion to become a force for good.

In San Francisco, California, where Wildlife Works corporate offices are located, we got together with a few ethical fashion leaders to organize and promote these inspiring events. Get involved! If you can’t make these events, take these steps to green up your closet at home!

Follow the West Coast USA Fashion Revolution Facebook page. These events are listed there:

1. Sunday April 23, 11am – 2pm : Revolution by Design: Stanford University
d.school 
416 Escondido Mall, Rm 169, Bldg 550, Stanford, California 94305
Team up to redesign the fashion industry with brands, fashion activist, systems researchers and consumers. Join concerned citizens at Stanford University’s d.school on Sunday, April 23rd [FREE ADMISSION] to understand and discuss the fashion production challenges we face and how we can overcome them together from a human-centered design perspective. More details.

2. Sunday April 23, 1pm – 4pm : True Cost Screening
Throckmorton Theatre: 142 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley, California 94941
Screening of True Cost (92 minutes) followed by a panel discussion on “how we wear our values,” led by Shamini Dhana, Associate Producer of True Cost movie and Founder/CEO of Dhana Inc.and planel discussion representing brands, consumers and customers. PLUS a special message from Andrew Morgan, Director of True Cost movie. Our creative director Joyce Hu will be one of the panelists.

3. Monday, April 24, 6pm – 7:30pm: Made in Cambodia Screening
1111 8th St, San Francisco, California 94107
California College of Arts, the Levi Strauss Foundation and Remake for the San Francisco premiere of Made in Cambodia, a film short by Asad Faruqi, the cinematographer for Oscar winning documentary short ‘A Girl in the River’ and ‘Saving Face.’ Keynote: Paul Dillinger (Head of Global Product Innovation at Levi Strauss & Company) on the future of ethical fashion. Panel Discussion: Learn how the Remake Journey to Cambodia, recently featured on NBC, has forever changed three graduating fashion students’ lives and affected their view on the fashion industry. More info 

4. Tuesday April 25, 6:30pm – 9:30pm : Re:Fashion Workshop
Handcraft Studio School : 10368 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito 94530
A night of “re-fashioning” fun and cocktails. We are partnering with some of the best artisans in the Bay Area to show you how to save your used or damaged clothing. You will walk away with three techniques in your arsenal: mending, natural dyeing, and embroidery.
Buy tickets here. 
$15 early bird
$20 regular
10 lucky early birds will get a free Wildlife Works Apparel t-shirt to dye at the event!

5. Wednesday April 26, 7pm – 9pm : Fashion Revolution’s Night Out  – Hayes Valley
Similar to NYC’s “Fashion’s Night Out”, this will be an evening filled with shopping, drinks, giveaways and discounts! As a part of Fashion Revolution Week, “Fashion Revolution’s Night Out” will exclusively illuminate ethical and sustainable stores!
Register here. 

6. Wednesday April 26, 6pm – 8pm : Party at Cuyana
Cuyana Showroom: 291 Geary St. 2nd Floor San Francisco
Evening party will feature an exhibition of the women who make our clothes, pre-monogrammed pieces from Cuyana’s archived collections and a curated selection of Soko’s artisan-driven jewelry. RSVP

7. Thursday April 27, 7pm – 9pm : Fashion Revolution’s Night Out  – Uptown Oakland
Similar to NYC’s “Fashion’s Night Out”, this will be an evening filled with shopping, drinks, giveaways and discounts! As a part of Fashion Revolution Week, “Fashion Revolution’s Night Out” will exclusively illuminate ethical and sustainable stores!
Register here. 

8. April 28, 6-8PM : In-House Production Discussion
Les Lunes 3027 Fillmore Street
CEO of Les Lunes, Anna Lecat, a serial entrepreneur and a pioneer of ethical manufacturing in China, hosts an open discussion on how Les Lunes ethically manages the manufacture high-quality products in their China-based workshop. Tickets

9. Saturday April 29, 10am – 11:45am : Ethical Brand Portraits 
Union Square
Silk Roll is hosting Iconic #whomademyclothes Portrait Session (10:00-11:45 AM) at SilkRoll studio in Union Square. RSVP here 

10. Saturday April 24, 11am – 4pm : Indigo & Shibori Dye Workshop
Walnut Creek Community Center
Lead by Jenny Fong, founder of Modern Shibori Tickets here

11. Sunday May 7, 11am – 6pm : Urban Air Market x Fashion Revolution and Demonstration
On May 7th, 2017, Urban Air Market is partnering with Fashion Revolution to give shoppers a way to meet the makers of their favorite local brands, find sustainable alternatives to irresponsible fast fashion apparel, and have their voices heard. Tickets 

*Fashion Revolution Selfie Booth Take a selfie in the Fashion Revolution photo booth and call out your favorite brand with the hashtag #whomademyclothes

*Refashion Workshop Give your old t-shirts new life with a fun re-fashion workshop hosted by The Loome.

*Fashion Drop-Off Cleaning out your closet? Bring your used garments to UAM and SilkRoll will give you points towards second-hand designer apparel.

*Sustainably Made Fashion Want to support transparency in fashion, but don’t know how? Meet brands that are making a difference.

Fashion Revolution

 

5 Steps to Green up Your Closet

5 Steps To A Sustainable Closet

Believe it or not, having a sustainable wardrobe is crucial to our planet’s health, and to yours.

fashion pollutes

According to surveys, most people only wear about 20 percent of the clothing in their closets. Coupled with the fact that the average woman has $500 worth of unworn clothing in their wardrobe and you can see that there is clearly a problem. Fast fashion has trained us to buy throw away fashion that’s worn once and thrown out. The average American tosses 82 pounds of textile waste each year, which adds up to 11 million tons of the stuff from our country alone. It’s time to convert to a sustainable wardrobe.

mound

Here’s our 5 step program to green up your closet.

  1. CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSET

The first step to living a sustainable lifestyle is to possess less, which trains you to consume less. Getting into your spring cleaning and embracing the sustainable fashion movement isn’t as scary as you think. And, there could be some serious mental benefits to cleaning out your closet.

If a clean house is a clean mind, many of us could be struggling to find that peace and clarity we all look for hope to find. In Marie Kondo’s best selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” the author details one simple rule for clearing up everything in your life and home – gather everything of one category together (for example, clothes, books, etc.) and for each item, ask yourself this question, “Does it spark joy?”

The simple question and the simple answer that follows (yes or no) will then determine whether or not you should keep it.
main.original.640x0cTo make letting go of things easier, Kondo recommends that you thank the item for serving its purpose in your life, then let it go. That old gift you got from a friend that just didn’t quite suit you? Thank it for bringing a moment of joy into your life, then let it go. That dress that just doesn’t fit you right, but you were hoping one day would? Thank it for showing you what doesn’t work for your body, then let it go.

  1. DONATE, RECYCLE & REWORK

If you have a hard time of letting things go because you feel it is wasteful, worry not! H&M has a recycling program where they will take your old clothes and recycle them into other pieces of clothing. Other brands have similar programs, like Patagonia’s Worn and Wear initiative and others.

Failing that, there’s always a Goodwill or thrift store that’s sure to take your pieces. And if you’re strapped for cash, why not sell on websites like ThredUp and Swap.

rework clothing diy

And, taking this opportunity to flex your DIY skills, if there’s something you really love, say the fabric on a particular dress or shirt, you could always find a way to upcycle it. A shirt into a pillowcase or a dress into a new top, the possibilities are endless. Get inspired on Pinterest.

rework

  1. BUILD A GREEN FOUNDATION

Drew Cook, Co-Founder of PACT, an organic cotton company, once said to me that they chose to work with basics because, “It’s the first thing you put on and the last thing you take off.”

We couldn’t agree more on the importance of building a sustainable closet using organic basics, undergarments, and layers. These basics are meant to be the building blocks for any outfit – casual or elegant, work or play. You’ll also find putting together different outfits and getting dressed for work easier than before as you use key basics that you love to set the foundation for all your looks.

Then, use trend accessories like scarves from Indigo Handloom or Soko that won’t go out of style.

ethical closet foundation

Here’s a starter list:

  • 100% organic cotton underpinnings and layers from Pact
  • 100% organic trend basics from Wildlife Works
  • Basic natural fiber trousers from Everlane
  • Update denim if needed – one slim fit and one boyfriend fit from eco denim lines.
  • Basic, neutral outer layers from Eileen Fisher or Slum Love that go with everything and last through the years
  1. INTEGRATE NEW PIECES INTO YOUR EXISTING WARDROBE

Once you have your foundation and a few key pieces to make your style your own, you can integrate them into your existing wardrobe and get creative on mixing and matching to make new outfits. Get ideas from style and fashion magazines or consult blogs online.

Use Pintrest to explore outfit ideas and save your favorite ones.

  1. FOCUS YOUR FUTURE BUYING

When looking at what to purchase to add to your wardrobe in a sustainable way, take into consideration that some fabrics are just more eco-friendly than others and some brands are more ethical than others. Get some serious tips from Wear No Evil. Here are our recommendations, listed from eco closet starter to eco super star.

  • Avoid Blends: there’s very little technology to recycling blends, so there’s no where for your cotton-poly blend shirt to go once you’re done with it other than the landfill.
  • If you like the feel and utility of synthetic materials, choose pieces made from recycled or repurposed synthetic fabric.
  • Thrift and buy second hand: there are so much previously loved clothing that you can save from filling the landfill.
  • Opt for Natural fibers: these have the least amount of toxins and are biodegradable, so better for Mother Earth, too.
  • Choose Organic, natural fibers: about 16 percent of the world’s insecticide and 7 percent of pesticides are used to grow conventional cotton. It’s not just bad for your and the planet, it’s also harmful to the growers and processors who have to handle this material. Choose organic.
  • Fair trade/fair labor brands: fair to you, fair to the person who made it.
  • 100% transparency on entire supply chain: from cotton boll to your doorstep, there are companies striving to create the best processes for everyone involved. Help support these companies and tell the fashion industry that you want to know who made your clothes.

Some of our favorite brands and shops not mentioned above:
Raven & Lily
People Tree
Amour Vert
Modavanti
Accompany
Kaight NYC

fashion revolution

 

 

11 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

With the planet warming at unsustainable rates, it’s imperative now more than ever that we each take responsibility for reducing our carbon footprint. Everything you do, from the clothing you wear to the food you eat, contributes in some way to greenhouse gas emissions.

Here are 11 ways you can reduce your carbon footprint:

1. Eat less red meat and dairy products.

The world’s insatiable demand for red meat makes up about 9 percent of the world’s contribution to climate change, about one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions for the US agriculture industry alone. Through forests destroyed to create grazing grounds for cattle, to food grown specifically to feed cows, to the methane released by these ruminants, to the mismanagement of their waste, beef and milk are two of the highest carbon-footprint foods one can consume. Just switching from beef to chicken reduces your carbon footprint by 75 percent.

2. Reduce how much single-use items you purchase and throw out.

Every year, 58 billion disposable cups are thrown out in the US alone. They also use about 50 billion plastic water bottles in a year. Not only is this creating waste (when not recycled), plastic is made from crude oil and can only be recycled a finite number of times. Use a re-useable shopping bag when you go shopping (not just for groceries, for clothes too!), take a re-useable to-go cup when you order coffee in the morning, bring a to-go container with you when you want to eat out, and reduce the amount of store-bought beverages you consume. If you do buy commercial drinks from the store, opt for aluminum, the most energy-efficient material to recycle, or glass, infinitely recyclable through its lifetime. Get inspired by Beth Terry’s “My Plastic-free Life.” 

3. Purchase sustainable food that’s responsibly grown.

Purchasing locally grown food means that there was less transport, and therefore greenhouse gas emissions, used to get that food to your plate. Getting your locally made products means the same. Especially when you purchase in bulk and from a farmer’s market, where processing, packaging, and storage is left out. Also, when buying mixed source products, like granola, think about where all the raw materials came from. Things like cacao, coffee, and coconuts have to travel a long way to get to you, if you don’t live in the tropics.

4. Avoid fast fashion.

It takes over 200 tons of water to produce 1 ton of fabric and in many countries, the safe management of the toxic byproduct of the fashion industry is unregulated. The joke goes that in China, you can predict the next season’s trends by the color of the river. Cheap clothes mean cheap processes that are harmful to the planet and the people who make your clothes. Rather than purchasing cheap clothing and fast fashion pieces that you’ll soon grow out of, go for meaningful pieces and purchase things that can last your lifetime (or at least until you wear it out). Make an effort to donate your clothes and buy from thrift stores when you want something new to wear. While you’re at it, check out our 5 step program to green up your closet.

5. Unplug and switch off.

Helping to reduce your energy consumption is an important way to reducing your footprint. Do so by switching off and unplugging any electronics that you aren’t using, reducing the amount of heat and air-conditioning you use, and using as much natural light as possible by rising and getting to sleep early. This will also save you money.

6. Plant perennial trees and plants.

Some plants absorb more CO2 than other plants. Find out which plants grow well in your area and help capture the most greenhouse gases. Generally speaking, new saplings absorb more CO2 than older trees (although the latter store more CO2 than the former). Also, be mindful of how your garden by collecting rainwater and grey water from your household to water your yard.

7. Reduce the amount of waste you create.

This includes everything from clothing to single-use plastic bottles to food that’s gone bad. Purchase only what you need, donate second-hand items to charities, and reuse any containers purchased from the store. About 40 percent of food from the US food supply goes to the landfill. Start composting at home and reduce the amount of waste that has to be collected and processed at your house.

8. Opt to dine-in rather than eating out.

Even when compared to a single-person eating at home, dining out is still more impactful to the environment than cooking at home. With 58 percent of Americans dining out at least once a week, this is a hefty increase in greenhouse gas emissions. From energy needed to run a venue to food waste and packaging, the restaurant industry has a lot to answer for its impact on global climate change. Eating at home is not only healthier but also better for the planet and your wallet.

9. Avoid purchasing beauty products with petrolatum.

Petrolatum is a byproduct of the oil industry. It’s derived from crude oil and unfortunately not a sustainable product. Not to mention, it can be contaminated with other chemicals and doesn’t actually hydrate your skin. Unfortunately, you’ll find petrolatum in everything from facial moisturizers to body washes.

10. When you travel, travel slowly.

If you do want to travel, it’s better to take your time and get to your destination in the slowest way possible, using public transportation when possible. Buses, subways, and trains are great options to get to where you’re going. And, once you’re in your destination, stay for a while rather than changing hotels every other day. More on how driving compares to flying here.

11. Offset your carbon footprint.

It’s inevitable that most things you do release greenhouse gases, so offsetting your carbon footprint are one of the surest ways to make sure your livelihood is carbon neutral. Did you know that deforestation causes up to 15% of all global warming emissions? If we can stop deforestation globally, it would result in 30% of the emissions reductions needed to maintain our global temperature increase below 2 degrees C. Buying carbon offsets that come from forest protection is one of the most direct and sizable actions you can take to combat climate change. Depending on your country of residence, this can be as little as $30/year to $180/year. Offset today.

offset your carbon footprint with Wildlife Works

Fair Trade USA Committee Uniform Donation

Last week, members of the Wildlife Works’ eco factory Fair Trade Committee had the pleasure of making a trip to two local schools within our project area. As part of the eco factory’s Fair Trade USA certification, each of our Fair Trade USA certified clients contribute a ‘premium’. This is around 5-10% of the overall production cost which is paid directly to our factory workers.

fair trade USA fashion Students at Itinyi Primary School holding up their new school uniforms

Our Fair Trade Committee then decides how this money is spent. This time, they allocated a portion of their premium to the community for worthy causes. (Read here stories about how our employees have been using their Fair Trade money for projects such as education for their children and home improvement.) In instances where money is given to the community, education is a top priority.

Itinyi and Marasi primary schools are two local schools that were targeted by the Fair Trade Committee as particularly at risk and in need of assistance. Between the two schools, the committee donated over 100 school uniforms to vulnerable children ages 6-14.

FT USA Fair Trade fashionThe head master and Alfred, the head of the free trade committee, distribute school uniforms at Itinyi Primary School

The Fair Trade Committee visited both schools to hand over the uniforms and meet the children. During their visit, each member of the Fair Trade Committee spoke directly to the students and their parents about how they were able to donate these items.

Through explaining about Wildlife Works, including how the eco factory is responsible for job creation and describing the importance of fair trade production, the committee showed these families the benefits of community organization and mobilization.

By protecting the environment and community through making clothes within a fair trade framework, the committee now has the resources to donate these uniforms where the school would otherwise have gone without.

In instances like these, due to local customs, it is important to assure the families that these uniforms were given strictly as gifts and that nothing was expected in return.

fair trade USA Alfred and the rest of the committee distribute uniforms at Marasi primary school.

Both school visits were tremendously happy occasions. It was wonderful to see the excitement on the students’ faces when they received their new school uniforms. For many of them, it had been a long time since they received a new uniform and nearly every student had some kind of rip or tear in their clothes.

Wildlife Works strives constantly to work within the community to build strong and active families that can become vehicles for change. By bringing together the parents and students when donating these uniforms, the Wildlife Works Fair Trade Committee further promoted the idea that education should be valued and that parents must be a part of the process of enabling each child to reach their full potential.

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-12-37-49-pmStudents at Mirasi primary school try on their new school uniforms.

It is these weekly community events, which often go undocumented and without discussion, that make Wildlife Works a strong social driver here in the Kasigau Corridor. Within a community that has decided to place environmental conservation at the forefront of their lives and careers, we see repercussions that run deep within the community. How wonderful to witness everyone benefiting, even the students at Itinyi and Marasi primary schools. Huge congratulations and thanks to our Fair Trade USA certified customers (such as Threads 4 Thought!) for committing to fair trade and our employees for delivering such a great and necessary donation!

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-12-38-06-pmParents were present at both schools to witness the donation of the uniforms and share in the excitement with their kids

Meet Alfred, Master Tailor and Leader

At Wildlife Works, job creation is central to our success as a community. The Wildlife Works eco factory is one of our larger departments here at the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project, with more than 60 current employees. In such a large group, we love to set aside the time to realize some of the very special individuals we are lucky to have on our team.

fairtradefashionMeet Alfred

Alfred Karisa works as a machinist on the skilled tailor team that produces for our high-end clients such as LaLesso and Raven and Lily. Before joining us in 2012, Alfred worked for a private firm as a tailor. He brings several years of experience to our team, including studying dressmaking and tailoring. Alfred is 26, unmarried, and is responsible and disciplined. Brought up from humble backgrounds, Alfred and his three siblings were raised by a single mother. As a result of his steady income through working for Wildlife Works, Alfred has been able to help fund his younger sister through school at Laikipia University.

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-4-04-06-pmAlfred is one of Wildlife Works’ skilled tailors at our eco factory in Kenya

In addition to being one of our skilled tailors, Alfred is also the President of our Fair Trade USA Committee (read our one year anniversary story of being Fair Trade USA certified here). His personality, along with his ability to get along with just about everyone, was responsible for his election to president of the Fair Trade Committee – everyone trusts him. In this role, he represents the rest of the employee body in matters relating to Fair Trade and also organizes and facilitates meetings of the committee.

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-4-04-14-pmAlfred is the President of the Wildlife Works Fair Trade USA Committee

We sat down with Alfred as he recalled his experience with Wildlife Works. “Wildlife Works has greatly helped the community, in the construction of schools, giving bursaries to students, building water tanks, and creating jobs,” says Alfred. He is proud to hold a position within his community that allows him to make positive change for his friends and family, coworkers and neighbors. “I feel empowered by working here, and am empowered to help my family and community,” continues Alfred. We hope the eco factory here at Wildlife Works continues to inspire and empower Alfred and the community for many years to come.

 

About Wildlife Works Carbon: 

Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests.

Over a 15 year history Wildlife Works established a successful model that uses the emerging marketplace for REDD+ Carbon Offsets to protect threatened forests, wildlife, and communities.

The company helps local landowners in the developing world monetize their forest and biodiversity assets whether they are governments, communities, ownership groups, or private individuals.

 

Allan, The Screenprinter

At the core of Wildlife Works’ conservation strategy is job creation for people in wildlife-rich areas. In Kenya, at our Kasigau REDD+ project, we finance the development of several business operations, such as an eco-factory and the production of sustainable charcoal. In 2010, Wildlife Works started a screen-printing facility. In the beginning, this facility was in a single room, outside Wildlife Works’ premises, with four workers. Six years later, our screen-printing facility has developed into a renowned facility doing big orders for global clients, such as GlobeIn, Threads for Thought and Greater Good.

hand screen printing Meet Allan

Allan Kiplimo is one of our screen-printing assistants. He comes from the Nandi hills, in western Kenya. Allan was brought up by a single parent, his mother, together with four siblings. In his early years, he farmed in Nandi, but in search of greener pastures and better work he moved to southeastern Kenya and managed to secure a job at Wildlife Works in 2012. He had no printing skills when he joined but as time went by he learnt the skills through observation and training from his colleagues.

Today, Allan helps out with all sorts of roles around the factory, including testing the first lay of screen till they are perfect and ready for production and maintaining the screens throughout the process to ensure sustained quality.

hand screen printing Allan at work in the Wildlife Works’ screen printing factory

hand screen printing Allan is hardworking and an intelligent young man filled with energy and positivity about life. Since he joined Wildlife Works, he has saved money from his income and now owns a dairy farm in his home county, Nandi, where he employs someone to look after his business while he is away working. Allan also assists in paying school fees for his younger siblings, one of whom has finished his diploma, two of whom are in secondary school, and the youngest is still in primary school.

Despite Allan’s main challenge being that it is hard for him to manage his business due to distance, he is at the place in life he has always wanted to be – helping people and putting a smile on their faces. Allan has big plans for his future; he wants to one day be self-employed, grow his dairy business and be able to create more employment for others.

Thank you Allan for all your hard work, it’s been great to watch you grow and we know your future will be bright!

Fair Trade USA Certification – One Year On

The Wildlife Works’ factory, on the edge of Tsavo East National Park in Kenya, became Fair Trade USA certified in the spring of 2015. We were the first carbon neutral, fair trade factory in Africa! Now, just over a year later, we have been producing Fair Trade USA certified garments for clients around the world, such as Threads for Thought.

Our factory was founded in 2001 on ethical and fair trade policies – back before the fashion industry even had the words to describe sustainable fashion. Buying ethically made clothing is a meaningful way to vote with your dollar for a healthier planet and happier people. Buying Fair Trade USA certified is a way to transparently track the supply chain of your clothes. Our factory in Kenya produces quality made garments that support the local rural population and protect wildlife and trees.

One of the most significant benefits of producing Fair Trade USA that makes a real impact on workers lives is the Fair Trade USA ‘premium’. The premium is 1%-10% of the manufactured price of a garment that the client pays directly into a factory worker’s fund. A democratically elected committee of workers, who collectively decide how to use the money, manages this fund.

Fair Trade USAA meeting of the Wildlife Works’ Fair Trade USA Committee of factory employees to discuss Fair Trade USA matters

Thanks to the vision of our fashion clients and the commitment of their buyers, this money helps to further local empowerment and economic development and has made a big impact on the lives of our workers in rural Kenya. Our workers have used their Fair Trade USA premium money (which to date is a total of around $130 per employee) for things such as paying off school fees for their children, growing or starting small side enterprises and improving their living standards to have luxuries such as electricity and running water.

Read some of the inspiring stories of our fair trade workers here.

fair trade usaElipina
Elipina Wakio is a helper in our factory. Elipina is a single parent and has two children in primary school. With nearly half of this money, she bought six bags of cement to plaster the floor of her house that was previously just a dirt floor. The rest went to clearing her children’s school fees and purchasing new school uniforms for them, clearing her water bill and buying food. “Fair Trade USA orders give me the morale to put more perfection and energy into my work bearing in mind that I will benefit financially at the end of it,” Elipina commented.

Fair Trade USAFestus
Festus Mutua, a sewing machine operator, started working with Wildlife Works in 2011. He is married and has four children, three of whom are already married and one who is in high school. Festus spent his Fair Trade premium money on clearing school fees for his youngest son and boosting his wife’s local boutique business. With the rest of the money he purchased two female goats in order to start a small goat milk business on the side to supplement his income from working in the Wildlife Works’ factory. “I’m so happy being part of Fair Trade USA and I’m grateful to the financial support that I’m benefiting from,” he says.

Fair Trade USAHalima
Halima Chaka is a sewing machine operator who started working with us in 2011. She has six children who are all still in school. Nearly three-quarters of her Fair Trade premium has gone to opening a business in the local village where she sells vegetables, clothes, food, and household goods. With her remaining money, Halima cleared school fees for all of her children. “I’m so grateful for the financial support I have got from Fair Trade USA and it is my wish that these orders come in more frequently!” She added.

Fair Trade USAElipina
Elipina Sezi is a machinist who started working with us in 2012, married and has two children who are both in school. Elipina is a hardworking woman. With her Fair Trade USA money, she has renovated her home bringing to it modern standards of living such as adding electricity and water plumbing. She wishes to have more orders from Fair Trade as it helps her to continue home improvements for her family.

Community
With the last Fair Trade USA order, the Wildlife Works’ Fair Trade USA Committee voted to divide the premium money between themselves and community projects. 75% went equally between the employees and the remaining 25% is earmarked to buy new school uniforms for two local primary schools in the Wildlife Works’ project area – Marasyi and Itinyi. Alfred Karisa, President of the Fair Trade USA Committee, commented, “I want to say thank you to the concerned people who are Fair Trade USA customers. This gives everyone in the factory extra income but also helps us raise the standards of living for our community. Our only wish is that more people chose Fair Trade USA.”

Wildlife Works Scholarship Recipient Joins the Team

“I get satisfaction in my job through putting perfection into my work,” says Zanira Kasyoka, one of the lucky recipients of a Wildlife Works’ scholarship that fully sponsored her secondary education. Her talents and hard work stood out and she is now fully employed as an assistant in the Wildlife Works’ carbon-neutral, eco-factory office.

zaniraMeet Zanira, first a scholarship recipient now an employee

Zanira comes from a humble background in the village of Itinyi, Taita Taveta County, within our project area in Kenya. She was brought up by a single mother together with her elder sister. She now lives with her mother and grandmother, as her sister has married and moved out. Zanira finished secondary school in 2011, at Bura Girls National School and scored a grade B- in her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education.

After finishing school, Zanira was very grateful for the support from Wildlife Works and so she decided to apply to work as a contract laborer with us to show her appreciation and gain experience. She worked under a short-term contract in the greenhouse and as an office assistant where she worked very hard, and her sincerity and commitment shone through. After nearly two years, Wildlife Works was able to offer her a full-time job as an assistant in the eco-factory office in 2014. Zanira says she is very grateful and owes all her knowledge to Daniel, our factory manager, and Vicky, our factory office manager, who have mentored her from the beginning. Today, she helps out with processing orders, packaging clothes for shipment, shipping finished goods to our customers and bookkeeping.

zaniraZanira now works for our eco-factory. One of her responsibilities is to help with packaging clothes for shipment. Here, she’s packing an order for our client Globein. 

Ever since she joined Wildlife Works, her family life has never been the same again. Even at only 24 years old, Zanira is now the breadwinner in her family and she provides food and clothing for her mother and grandmother. Despite her main challenge of lack of school fees, she still has hopes and future plans that she will join university and pursue nursing.

zaniraEven though Zanira loves her job, she dreams of continuing her education further down the line

Zanira is one of more than 3,200 local students who have been awarded over $260,000 in education scholarships since 2004. This funding comes through distributing the profit made from selling carbon credits and is one of the ways in which Wildlife Works supports the local community, by realizing the value of the natural world and making the wildlife work for people.

Reproductive Health Education and Support for Wildlife Works Communities

Within the captivating yet isolated hills of Sagalla, Taita Taveta County, Kenya, 20 women and two men came together to form a self-help group with the objective of improving reproductive health. Rauka Reproductive Health Group meets at the Sagalla Health Centre under the auspices of the Sagalla community health unit.

reproductive healthMembers of Reproductive Health Group

Hygiene is a common concern for people living in poverty in developing nations. Rauka Reproductive Health Group felt the need to address issues that are related to reproductive hygiene, especially menstruation hygiene, to assist women and girls in the area. With this initiative, the group has been able to reduce traditional birth deliveries where now pregnant mothers are escorted to health facilities for safe delivery. This helps to prevent mother-to-child transmission of diseases, particularly HIV. The group also has home-based care where they conduct home visits to HIV patients to ensure individuals take their medication.

reproductive healthMembers of the group making reusable sanitary towels

Wildlife Works supports local health groups in various ways to improve the health status of local people. For example, a major challenge facing Rauka Reproductive Health Group is insufficient raw materials. We provide a solution by providing scraps from our eco factory for this group to make affordable, reusable sanitary towels to help those who cannot afford disposable sanitary pads.

reproductive health Wildlife Works community relations officer, Emily Mwawasi giving out scraps to the group

WHAT IS WILDLIFE WORKS?

Protecting + Forests + Wildlife + Community since 1997.

Wildlife Works is the world's leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world's forests.