Brand Spotlight: Tosheka Textiles

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VENTURES AFRICA – The eco-friendly fashion movement is a rapidly growing global effort to reduce environmental damage caused by the production of textiles and fashions. Eco-friendly fashion has become one of the most prominent topics in the fashion and style arena stirring the interest of consumers and participation from global high-fashion brands to local designers. Brands and designers are discovering new ways to incorporate natural and recycled materials into their designs and utilizing production methods that require less water, less energy and fewer chemicals.

Tosheka Textiles is a Kenyan and USA based social enterprise that specializes in the production of eco and ethical textiles and related products. They produce colorful, trendy and functional Soko bags, which are made from 100% recycled plastic. These bags come in all colors imaginable and bold, striped, eclectic/organic and geometric patterns.

They are products of the Recycled Treasures Project in Kenya, a design and recycling initiative established in 2010 by Lucy Lau-Bigham along with her husband and business partner, Herman Bigham.

In 2010, while working with various women development groups in rural Kenya, Mrs. Lau-Bigham encountered a group that was recycling used plastic shopping bags and crocheting them into beautiful fashion accessories. It was a lucrative idea that immediately caught her attention. However, she discovered that the women were collecting dirty plastic from the trash and then washing them. This was not hygienic as it exposed the women to diseases and other dangers. The solution would be to find a way to intercept the plastic bags before they made it to the trash.

The ultimate goal for the Recycled Treasures project is to design and produce a line of eco-friendly fashion accessories for the global market. The broader vision of the Recycled Treasures project is to make an organized effort to reduce environmental pollution in the East African country of Kenya and produce sustainable income for the producer groups that make products. We utilize natural and alternative fibres, innovative designs, traditional African weaving, knitting, and crochet techniques.

One year down the line, the project has grown from one group to 15 groups with over 100 women producers and counting. The benefits of this project are already visible. The women producers get paid fairly and immediately they finish a bag; they do not have to wait for the product to be sold. This has provided a stable income for these women and their familie s. They can also produce the bag from their own homes which is extremely important, as they can take care of their household duties while they crotchet the bags.

Plastic pollution is a huge problem in Kenya, and this project is doing its bit by reducing the amount of plastic bags that end up in the trash. By setting up a recycling program with major retailers in the country, the project has made Kenyans aware and given them a portal where they can bring their used clean bags.

You can find more information about the company and products on their facebook page, website and blog. Their products are currently available on Tosheka Textile’s etsy page here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ToshekaTextiles?ref=search_shop_redirect