tentree: An Environmentally-Friendly Apparel Company

May 18, 2015

by Drew Zieff
tentree: An Environmentally-Friendly Apparel Company

Not only does tentree craft Active Junky-approved streetwear, but their brand is also committed to conserving this beautiful planet – a mission that we can get behind. As the name “tentree” suggests, for every product you purchase, the Canadian company pledges to plant 10 trees in devastated and deforested areas around the world. With a new line of products on the way and nearly five million trees planted as a direct result of this unique and successful business model, we interviewed Kalen Emsley, tentree’s Chief Marketing Officer, to get a better glimpse of where this rooted company plans on growing.

AJ: How do you decide where and what to plant? 

KE: We choose projects/areas where planting trees will have the greatest environmental and social impact. 

Specific criteria includes:

  1. Partners

We partner with charities that have longstanding relationships in the community. These organizations must have a strong record of complying with all their legal obligations. As part of our agreement with every planting partner, they must take us to the site so we can audit the planting projects. 

  1. Deforestation

The areas we plant in are chosen based on the need for reforestation and/or agroforestry. We will put a significant amount of resources into countries like Madagascar where they are projecting that the whole country will be deforested by 2025. 

  1. Ownership

We require that the trees we plant are creating an additional benefit. The trees must be protected in perpetuity and cannot be sold for commercial use. We do not work with for-profit companies, only NGOs, Governments, and local farmers. This ensures every person who buys tentree is having a lasting impact on individuals and the environment. 

  1. Social impact

In developing countries, we work with local villagers and give them jobs in their reforestation project sites. These local villagers are parents who have families that desperately need a reliable income to provide the care their families need. The workers are an integral part of the completion of these projects, as they are hired to plant millions of trees each year, trees healing their own natural environment. Throughout the project, local workers become more skilled and self-sufficient. Many can afford to send their children to school and are finally able to pay for healthier food, decent clothes, and healthcare. Trees will always be a necessary and valuable source for fuel and construction, but with the pride of ownership in their own new forest, and through community education, the villagers are coming to understand new, sustainable methods that are beneficial to both the inhabitants and their ecosystem. In North America, our social benefit is more weighted towards protecting the wildlife and restoring their natural habitat. 

  1. Environmental impact

The environmental impact has to be large, and impact is measured by the benefits coming from the trees. For instance, Madagascar has more endemic species than anywhere else in the world, but is also one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet. There, trees restore ecosystems, stop erosion and flooding, serve as rain magnets, serve as water purification systems and earth sponges (transferring water to the aquifers), restore nutrients in the soil, provide locals protection from hurricanes, etc. Plus, we also teach locals about the importance of a healthy forest. 

AJ: You’ve almost hit 5 million trees. What do your plans for the future look like?

KE: We expect to hit 8 million trees in 2015. Our future plans are to be the one brand that everyone associates with the environment. Our ultimate goal is to plant more trees than any other company in the world. To put that in perspective, the support from our community has allowed us to provide over 100,000 days of full time employment (almost 300 years) to people in developing countries and in over ten years those trees will offset approximately 500,000 tons of carbon. 

AJ: How does the tree-planting mission influence what you design and produce? 

KE: Our designs are inspired by nature and try to convey that message (whether directly through a saying or indirectly through the tag). The tree-planting mission also influences our production as we try to keep everything as environmentally friendly as possible.

If you’re down with cause, take a look at Active Junky’s review of these stylish tentree shirts and sweatpants. 


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