Monday, July 9, 2012


As mentioned in the first blog, Tosheka Textiles has a couple of projects going on in Kenya. One of my absolute favourites is the Recycled Treasures Project, a design and recycling initiative established in 2010 by Lucy Lau-Bigham along with her business partner and American husband, Herman Bigham. The ultimate goal for this project is to design and produce a line of eco-friendly accessories for the global market while reducing environmental pollution and producing sustainable income for the producer groups that make the products.
Herman and Lucy Bigham
You're probably wondering, how and where did they get this brilliant idea? Well, you're in luck because I'm going to tell you. Before Tosheka Textiles, Mrs. Bigham was working with various women development projects. As some of you might know, it is very common in Kenya to find women organized in 'chamas', which is groups in Kiswahili. In 2010, while working with a certain women's group in Wote, Ukambani, one woman brought her a bag that she had made from recycled plastic. This got Lucy interested and she decided to do further research. She discovered that the women were collecting dirty plastic from the trash, washing it, then using it to crotchet 'kiondo' style into bags. Needless to say, this was not hygienic. The wheels in Lucy's head started turning: how could she improve this project, because it was definitely a great idea. How could they intercept the plastic bags before they made it to the trash?
Women collecting dirty plastic bags from trash piles :(
Luckily, on another unrelated conversation with the administration of Nakumatt, she found out that they were interested in setting up a recycling campaign with their consumers. From there, they carried out a promotional campaign in some Nakumatt stores, some of you might have seen them, where they gave the customers incentives to bring back their used clean bags instead of throwing them in the trash. After the success of the promotional campaign, Nakumatt in partnership with Tosheka has set up collection bins in their various stores where people can drop off their used but clean plastic bags.

Promotion & Awareness Campain at Nakumatt Stores
Some of the women crocheting the clean plastic collected from Nakumatt in to beautiful bags
These bags are then collected by the Tosheka group who distribute them among the 15 women groups that they work with. From here, the 100 women turn that trash into amazing recycled treasures. Incredible isn't it? Now you can see why I am in love with this project. Not only does it clean our environment, one plastic bag at a time, it provides employment to over 100 women and counting, and it builds the Made in Kenya brand. On our next blog I will look at the products that the Recycling Treasure project produces. Tosheka has recently just released their premier line for Spring/Summer 2012 called Soko Bags. I bet you a million stars that this collection will blow your minds! Here's a little sneak peek.

Who knew you could get such incredible and bold colours from plastic shopping bags!! And if you can't wait, you're allowed to have a look at our facebook page.

Charity Migwi

Tosheka Blogger

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