By Maya McCarthy on March 3rd, 2013
While eco fashion protects our environment through organic production processes, can it also save wildlife?
“We [consumers] hold the power to change,” says Joyce Hu, Creative Director of Wildlife Works, as she explains the term Consumer Powered Conservation. By buying one of Wildlife Works products, every consumer becomes an “agent for conservation,” contributing to the protection of our environment and ensuring survival of approximately 50 species of large mammals including elephants, zebras and lions, throughout an area in Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park.
Through their production processes, Wildlife Works focuses on job creation, community development, health benefits for local workers, and fair payment for workers.
Established in 1997, Wildlife Works’ clothing line has undergone changes in style, colour and products used for production. Organic cotton from India had been used in their manufacture and later, cotton from Tanzania that is spun and woven in Nairobi, Kenya, was introduced.
Joyce Hu creates the styles in collaboration with designer Yugala Priti. Their line has been expanding. What started out with a basic line of graphic t-shirts and cotton jerseys, soon developed into an extraordinary collection of fashion with a fun attitude.
The colourful Spring/Summer 2013 organic cotton collection with form-fitting pants, skirts, dresses and jackets represents a cohesive and beautiful collection. Hu describes her fashion design philosophy as “how we would like to dress”. Her aim is to set an example by being profitable while doing good.
Wildlife Works has also been cooperating with PUMA Love Thy Planet as well as PUMA Creative Factory which allow customers to use their imagination by utilizing a “revolutionary printing process on t-shirts and bags.”
In addition to the printing process, the uniqueness of PUMA Creative Factory’s t-shirts comes from how the shirts are made. The t-shirts are made by Wildlife Works local employees of the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) project in Kenya, whose mission is to create sustainable jobs for the community to ensure a life without poverty.
The question is raised – Can eco fashion save wildlife?
The 500,000-acre Kasigau Corridor region in East Kenya is home to Wildlife Works REDD Carbon project, aiming to provide income to the community by providing employment to locals as rangers, land managers, greenhouse workers and more. At the heart of the region is the 80,000-acre Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary, established in 1998 to protect the area against the dangers of deforestation.
A distinction of Gold level status was awarded to the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project by the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Standard (CCB) for “exceptional biodiversity and climate benefits”.
On the land next to the sanctuary, Wildlife Works operates their carbon neutral EcoFactory, where local women are employed to cut and sew their organic cotton collections.
Through their ever-increasing initiatives, Wildlife Works is proving that eco fashion can in fact save wildlife.
Kerstin Tschernigg is an international journalist and Metaphysician, specialising in mind-body-soul awareness and international news reporting with a human interest angle. Supportive of eco fashion and passionate about organic lifestyle products, Kerstin feels strongly about the protection of our planet and living a holistic life. She is the initiator of her private charity project, One Word Changes, which stands for gender and race equality, mind and spirit education, and community-based sustainable development in Africa.