Our oceans are in a detrimental state that could be rectified if action is taken to resurrect the natural life that lives beneath the surface.
Many conversations are happening around deforestation and the loss of biodiversity on the land, but life in the ocean is beyond what is imaginable by those who live on that land. It’s also known that coral reefs and other ocean organisms cease to support our climate if not cared for properly.
Talking of this thought process—the conversation around the environmental impact of land versus the sea—is the critical step to be taken by the sustainable garment producer, tentree.
Its mission is simple on paper, to motivate and encourage environmental stewardship through earth-first apparel. In fact, all tentree products are inspired by the natural environments that the company so desperately works to preserve. The uniqueness of the tentree journey comes from its strategy to plant ten trees for every garment purchased—the name of the brand being an incredible commitment to doing just that.
“Over the past decade, our goal has been to create a business that wasn’t content with just doing “less bad”, but rather, was focused on doing “more good”. For every product we sell, we plant trees all across the globe. We have planted over 100 million trees to date and we connect the customer at every step of the journey with the impact their own purchase has made,” says Derrick Emsley, tentree’s CEO and Co-Founder.
As a result, tentree is aiming for a significant milestone of one billion trees planted by the year 2030, which is currently on track, having planted 100 million of those already.
Planting trees is not enough to be sustainable
Looking at the staggering figures the company has reached over the past 11 years of business, tentree is certainly likely to exceed its target for tree planting, which wasn’t enough of a challenge.
On the 7th March 2023, the company launched its latest initiative that will account for the outstanding 70% of the Earth’s coverage—its oceans.
Marking the latest range of clothing from the brand known to the consumer as the Ocean Collection, this product line will tackle a separate yet not-so-distant issue.
The strategy behind the Ocean Collection being to regenerate sea life alongside partners. These projects will include kelp planting, coral restoration, and mangroves.
- Partnering with Ocean Wise, tentree will support the planting of bull, sugar and giant kelp off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. tentree's support makes it possible for Ocean Wise to research best practices for ‘seaforestation’—a critical step in its goal to restore, cultivate and protect at least 5,000 ha of kelp globally.
- Alongside Plant a Million Corals tentree is supporting coral reef restoration and protection. They’ll be supporting important habitats for fish species throughout Florida and the greater Caribbean ecosystem.
- tentree will continue to plant mangrove trees across Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar and Brazil. Nearly 50% of the world’s mangrove forests have disappeared over the last 50 years, and these ecosystems are crucial carbon sinks and nursery grounds for key species.
“By expanding our tree-planting efforts into the ocean, we are able to support a critical ecosystem that supports an incredible number of animals, can serve as a massive carbon sink, and is, to-date, very under-funded due to the challenges of managing and monitoring underwater work,” says Emsley.
“At the same time, the upside and benefits of these projects is massive - no risk of forest fires, rapid growth cycles leading to continued carbon removal year after year, and byproducts that can be used in a variety of ways to reduce carbon emissions elsewhere (ie. bioplastic, animal feed, and more).”
How to make sustainable products and champion circularity
Understanding the mission of tentree it seems apt to delve deeper into what makes the company sustainable. Having spoken to Emsley on the topic, he divulges the company’s approach to circularity and how the sustainability mission has evolved over the years.
Tell us more about tentree’s USP and the journey it has taken as a result
“At tentree, we view ourselves not as an apparel brand that plants trees, but rather, as a tree-planting company that sells apparel. That being said, we also make phenomenal clothing that aims to be the comfiest, softest, and most sustainable product you’ll ever own.
“Our clothes serve first, as a vehicle to help us fund our global reforestation efforts, second, to provide an individual with the opportunity to make a difference and “wear their impact”, and third, to push the fashion industry towards more sustainable practices through circularity programmes, net-zero ambitions, and more.”
How does tentree manage its own impact on the planet in the process of supporting that of consumers?
“We've approached the creation of tentree with some principles that we hold very close: 1. We plant trees. 2. We work to reduce the negative impact of any product we create as much as possible. 3. Anything we cannot reduce, we offset. For each of these principles, we have built a number of ways to verify & validate our efforts.
“When it comes to tree planting, our approach to monitoring, reporting, and verification has evolved dramatically over the past decade. Historically, we have been challenged to measure our impact globally but, in the past three years, have built a technology focused on solving for the challenges of managing, verifying, and monitoring large-scale global reforestation efforts - this system is called veritree.
“Regarding the sustainability of our product, we use only the most sustainable fibre options—such as TENCEL™ lyocell, organic cotton or REPREVE® recycled polyester. As a result of this, we are able to cut back on the waste water and emissions that are created by typical apparel manufacturing. We also launched our new take-back program called “Circularity by tentree” in 2022 that helps keep well-worn tentree clothing out of landfills. “Finally, we are also one of the top B-Corps globally in the apparel category and have shown significant improvement with each recertification.”
How does the Ocean Collection fit into tentree’s mission?
“Our mission at tentree has always been to make saving the planet simple. We do that, by giving everyone of our customers the ability to make an incredible impact through their purchase. What it means to make an impact continues to evolve every year and, with it, so too does our business.
“When we started tentree, our focus was solely on planting trees. At the time, we didn’t know what it meant to make clothing “sustainably”. Upon realising the need to manufacture our product using more sustainable materials, we quickly made this change. Our focus was now on making products that did less harm, while planting as many trees as possible.
“Last year, we launched a circularity program to make sure that the product we created could also be returned to ensure there was no waste. This led to another evolution. Creating products without waste, that does no harm, and plants as many trees as possible.”
To read more on the tentree mission and its sustainability achievements, check out the 2022 sustainability and impact report.
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