Wildlife Works Becomes Africa’s
Only Carbon Neutral, Fair Trade Factory
And Launches it’s First Fair Trade USA Collection with Threads for Thought
By Joyce Hu
We are proud to announce that as of Spring 2015, Wildlife Works became Africa’s first and only carbon neutral, fair trade factory, upon receiving Fair Trade USA (FTUSA) Factory certification.
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. Since then, fast fashion has come to dominate and the fashion industry is seeing more and more consequences from the perils of its reign. The ever-growing complications of the global supply chain make it challenging for even the most dedicated producers to find all the blind spots.
The Wildlife Works Factory Team in Kenya:
But because of the overwhelming consumer response to human rights violations and climate change concerns, many global companies are now finding ways to improve factory working conditions and to lessen their emissions’ impact on the world. We are seeing more ethical brands launching and big businesses doing more; like Gap Inc’s PACE initiative or Levi’s zero waste collection.
Threads for Thought, a sustainable fashion brand with whom we are debuting our Carbon Neutral, FTUSA line, is a leading example of an apparel company founded on ethical production from its inception through its continuing growth. Buying ethically-made clothing is a highly meaningful and impactful way for consumers to support a healthier planet, for its people, wildlife and environment.
We applaud FTUSA for launching the first Fair Trade apparel factory certification so that consumers have more transparent tools to vote with their dollar. In addition to all the trackable benefits of the FTUSA certification, one of the most impactful requirements is the premium (1% – 10% of the invoice) that the brands pay directly into a factory workers’ fund. This fund is managed by a democratically elected committee of workers, who collectively decide how to use the money. Examples of how FTUSA-certified factories have used the funds include books for their local schools, micro lending credit funds, and computer learning centers.
We initiated the certification process just over one year ago when we had our inaugural meeting with FTUSA, located in Oakland, Ca. We were immediately inspired by the passionate people who shared our vision and looked forward to being placed on the FTUSA shelf alongside brands that we looked up to, like Patagonia, PrAna, Alter Eco and Numi Tea.
Wildlife Works factory view from above:
We needed every hour of every day to meet our deadline. Getting all the certifying parties to our factory located in the middle of the bush was not an easy task. We brought out separate companies to test our fire extinguishers, alarms and electrical system, and to update our health and safety inspections. All of our employees went through multiple training days to understand all their benefits of being a Fair Trade factory and to recap our HR policies ranging from grievance procedures to safety protocols. After a final full factory fire drill (70 employees) and many signatures later, we officially received our certification on May 8, 2015.
“We are so proud to be Fair Trade USA certified. Knowing that consumers choose to purchase FTUSA products motivates us to continue creating quality garments that help our rural community here grow,” says Daniel Munyao, factory manager since our founding.
In July 2015, Threads for Thought will release the first ever Wildlife Works Carbon Neutral, Fair Trade USA tees that protect wildlife and forests in Kenya. These tees will rank high on the scale of most sustainable and ethical tees you can own! As a result of this order, Threads for Thought will be contributing a total of $6,626.74 directly to the Wildlife Works Factory Fair Trade factory employee fund. This collection was also made with FTUSA certified cotton jersey from Rajlakshmi Mills in India for a 100% Fair Trade product!
The collection is now available online at www.threadsforthought.com, and at select Whole Foods stores nationwide.