The Green Legacy Project is our commitment to aid in Ethiopia's, and the world's, fight against climate change. One small way in which we hope to contribute is by planting trees for every bag sold – a goal we set for ourselves near the end of 2020, and have been working hard towards every day since.
In that time, we've accomplished quite a bit. Rather than simply donate money to have trees planted.. "somewhere", we decided to find a plot of land local to our Addis Ababa factory that could use some love, identify what trees would provide the most positive impact, and do the work ourselves – the only way we know how!
For our first round of tree-planting, we decided to partner with Abyot Kirs Preparatory School, a local high school that a handful of our employees happened to attend. Part of their green space wasn't looking so green, so our first task was to clear the area.
Our team, volunteers, and some students and teachers joined forces to pick up garbage and remove weeds, trim the grasses to be used for cattle feed elsewhere, and begin to prepare the area for the planting of 200+ seedlings.
Collectively, we decided to plant fruit trees, which accomplishes a few things we're excited about. Firstly, planting local, native fruit trees helps support the ecosystem as a whole and contributes to keeping invasive species at bay. Secondly, the fruit these trees will eventually bear will help fight food insecurity for students at the high school, many who come from households struggling financially. Some students are even sponsored in part by teachers and staff, and actually sleep at the school, as they come from rural villages far more than a day's travel away. Now, healthy and delicious snacks will quite literally be growing on trees in their school's backyard!
And finally, if there's a particularly bountiful harvest, the school can sell excess fruit to help raise funds for school supplies, trips, and anything else they need. This cleanup event allowed our employee volunteers to spend time with students and teachers from Abyot Kirs, but for some, it meant even more.
Eyerusalem, who recently graduated from our Center of Excellence, was thrilled to come back to her old school, though her memories come with a hint of regret. She was unable to continue her education past the 9th grade, as her father had fallen sick and she was forced to become the sole provider for her family.
"It brings back a lot of memories being here… my mom keeps telling me to come back and finish but I keep putting it off. Being back makes me think I should sign up for night classes so I can get my diploma already!"
For us, it's just the beginning. It's a reminder that environmental justice is social justice – that all of our collective impacts hinge on there being a thriving Planet Earth for any of them to be truly long-lasting. So, we plant trees. We nourish the potential. We work together to make a better bag, for a better world – for all of us.