6th Oct 2021
Next up in our Client Origin Stories is the first charity of the series. We have been working with Haller for many years and it is so interesting to see how they are still developing and working with people in Kenya from these beginnings in the 1970s. Here's Zoe to tell the story. Over to you Zoe...
The Haller Foundation is a UK charity and Kenyan NGO which unleashes the power of people and nature to create thriving ecosystems and communities. We strive to ensure what we do is both sustainable and environmentally sound… and that includes our website which has been hosted by Green Hosting since it’s launch.
We take our name from Dr. Rene Haller - an award-winning Swiss environmentalist and UNEP Global 500 Laureate. Over the past 50 years Dr. Haller has been driven by a growing passion for resourcefulness; experimenting with nature to restore life to degraded landscapes.
It was in the 1970s that Dr. Haller developed an approach which has been the source of our inspiration. The Bamburi Cement Company in Mombasa wanted to repair the damage to the landscapes caused by quarrying and allowed him to access it’s acres of disused limestone quarries. It was a wasteland: abandoned and forgotten. But Dr. Haller believed he could bring life there again.
Through experimentation, science and years of careful observations of the ways in which plants and animals interact, he was able to transform the moonscaped surfaces of the quarried landscape into an abundant and diverse forest ecosystem. Within 20 years he had created a sanctuary for endangered species, and a resource for local communities. He was able to nourish the land through the introduction of “pioneer” plants, red-legged millipedes and nitrogen-fixing microorganisms.
Due to Dr. Haller’s regenerative work on the harsh landscape, the former limestone quarry became known as The Haller Park. Covering 7km2, it is now a flourishing hub of biodiversity, home to over 2 and a half million indigenous trees, wildlife, birds and insects - all of which play a key role in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem. But Haller’s vision wasn’t just for ecology, it was also for the local economy to grow, convinced that both could work in harmony. The Haller Park became financially and environmentally sustainable through the creation of 46 natural business streams from fish farming to agroforestry. This in turn, provided livelihoods, supported its regeneration and improved biodiversity.
The park is now recognised by the Eden Project as one of the ten most effective environmental restoration projects in the world. It stands as a beautiful nature reserve, but serves as an enduring reminder of the importance of safeguarding biodiversity for the success and sustainability of our ecosystems.
Dr. Haller’s restoration projects didn’t stop with The Haller Park. Throughout his lifetime, he took the lessons that he had learned and adapted his methodology to continue rehabilitating other degraded landscapes in the Mombasa region. The Nguuni Nature Sanctuary was formerly a Jurassic shale quarry and today it is a one square kilometer ecological haven - a combination of savannah grasslands, wetlands, acacia and palm trees, making it a perfect sanctuary for African wildlife. The sanctuary is bordered with urban settlements and yet provides the green lungs of Mombasa demonstrating how people and nature can co-exist in harmony. Both tourists and local residents frequently visit Nguuni for the opportunity to see an exotic array of birds and wildlife in their natural habitats.
It was Dr. Haller’s model for sustainable living and the balance between ecology and economy that captured the attention of Julia Hailes and Louise Piper who had visited him in Kenya previously. Founding Trustee, Louise Piper said, “We were inspired by what we saw and wanted a vehicle to scale the impact of the methods he used. We wanted to raise awareness of the potential to repair damaged environments and to work with the local communities to help them benefit”. They believed that Dr. Haller’s work could become a blueprint for restoring badly eroded soils across the region. Together they co-founded The Haller Foundation in 2004 which aims to build on the lessons learned in the rehabilitation of degraded landscapes, and use his ecological approach to help the millions of smallholder farmers living on depleted soils.
Over the last 17 years Haller has worked with over 50 communities to enable them to restore their soils, green their landscapes and to make a viable livelihood from farming.
30th Sep 2021
Next up in our Client Origin Stories is Love Heartwood. I don't want to give too much away but I always think it's wonderful how a love of nature from an early age so often informs what you do as an adult. With no further delay, over to you Liz...
Hi, my name’s Liz Pearson and I founded my woodturning business, Love Heartwood, in the Autumn of 2017. Love Heartwood creates wooden toys, gifts and homeware that are handmade in harmony with nature. However, I didn’t just decide to start a business one day, it’s just grown naturally over the years from my love for nature and craft.
Turning’s my second career. In my early 30’s I left a successful 10-year teaching career to study product design at Central St. Martin’s in London. It was amazing being at one of the top creative art & design colleges in the country, and it was there that I discovered and fell in love with wood turning.
When I graduated in 2008, I vowed to get my own lathe. Life of course, got in the way meaning that didn’t happen until the summer of 2013. When I finally took delivery of my own lathe the day before my wedding my husband-to-be joked, we’d be setting it up on our honeymoon. He wasn’t laughing for long though as that’s pretty much what happened.
I was lucky enough to grow up in a beautiful part of Scotland called Fife, where I spent a lot of my childhood playing imaginative games in the woods. I learned the names of the trees and always felt safe and happy there. That experience left me with a deep emotional connection to nature and ‘the woods’. My love of wood as a material led me to dabble in different types of woodwork over the years never thinking I’d make it my living.
It’s increasingly being recognised by scientists that wood has measurable health benefits. Studies have shown it improves blood pressure, heart rate and stress levels. Improvements to a person’s emotional state and level of self-expression have also been recorded. With the spread of urbanisation our lives are increasingly disconnected from nature. So I feel it’s my mission to create objects to reconnect people to nature.
Complementing my love of natural materials is my deep dislike of synthetic materials and the current systems of mass-manufacture with their wasteful mind set. We are now surrounded by plastic items that may indeed be affordable but in consequence hold very little real value for us.
That’s why Love Heartwood has an ethos of sustainability that runs through every area of the business. Using locally sourced, natural, and sustainable materials is an obvious choice. But I also use plant-based, vegan friendly paints and finishes, minimal, biodegradable packaging, and recycled office materials. My commitment to sustainability also guides the kind of products I make and the suppliers I use. It even prompted me to set up a repair service for wooden toys. To make a positive environmental impact Love Heartwood works with the TreeSisters charity to plant a tree for every product sold. Switching the website’s hosting to Green Hosting was just the next step in reducing the businesses carbon footprint.
Love Heartwood has grown from my passion for making beautifully crafted, characterful products that are made from and celebrate the natural world that surrounds us. Going forward I hope to share them with the now expanding audience of conscious consumers.
Follow my sustainable craft journey online:
8th Sep 2021
Our next Client Origin Story comes from Rachel, The Ethical Copywriter. I love to hear about entrepreneurs breaking out to do things their own way and then finding even more ways they can make a positive difference through their skills. Over to you Rachel...
Hi, I’m Rachel Baker, a.k.a. The Ethical Copywriter.
I run a copywriting business where I write blog posts, website copy, newsletters etc. for ethical and sustainable businesses. I also have a background in search engine optimisation (SEO) and help out clients with SEO content strategy and technical SEO.
After working in-house as a copywriter and content manager for a number of years, in early 2021 I decided to set up by myself, for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, I’ve always liked the idea of working for myself. Having a creative job, I like to be able to work in focussed periods, uninterrupted, then take breaks to recharge when I need to. Being chained to a desk 9-5 every day just didn’t work for me.
But more importantly, I wanted to work with companies I was really excited about, whose principles matched my own.
I’m really passionate about climate and social justice, and I think that these issues are often seen as separate to the world of business. In reality, like everything else in the world, they’re completely interlinked. Businesses have a huge impact on our planet and societies – sadly, often a negative one – and I wanted to work with companies who are dedicated to having a positive impact and changing things for the better.
I started out with my business because I wanted to help ethical and sustainable companies.
But after a while, I also started to realise the value of ethical copywriting.
Copywriting is usually described as writing to sell or persuade. As a result, it can sometimes err into manipulation. Many marketing departments will play on people’s emotions, using fear and creating a false sense of urgency in order to make people buy.
That’s not something I do.
For me, good copywriting is about giving people a true sense of your brand. My clients all have amazing missions, products and services – I help put them into words so that customers can see how great they are. No manipulation needed!
Something else I take very seriously in my job as a copywriter is combatting greenwashing.
Greenwashing is when companies say or imply that they are more sustainable than they really are.
Sometimes, this is by mistake, and comes from simply being too vague about what they are doing to be more sustainable.
I help companies to communicate what they’re doing, clearly and transparently. This helps to foster trust with customers and clients, as they don’t feel like they’re being misled.
I also take steps in my own business to be as sustainable as possible. One of these is by using Green Hosting for my website and email! I also power my home (which doubles as my office) with green energy from Octopus Energy.
I’m looking into ways I can be carbon negative as well, for example by donating to a tree-planting or rewilding scheme with each invoice. I haven’t done this yet as I want to do my research and make sure I choose a responsible, reputable scheme.
Going forward, I’d like to offer courses and resources to help smaller ethical businesses, who might not have the budget to hire a copywriter, to write their own ethical copy. I’d also love to offer work opportunities to people who might struggle to get into the world of work. Watch this space!
Find The Ethical Copywriter online:
LinkedIn: Rachel Baker
11th Aug 2021
Our next client origin story comes with the ethos 'Kind clothes that tell tales'. Intruiged? Well, all I'm going to say is that this ethical clothing company 'Where Does It Come From?' has a really impressive and creative approach to business transparency. This brand is all about stories. Take it away Jo!...
Hi, I’m Jo Salter – the founder of Where Does It Come From?
Setting up Where Does It Come From? was sparked by a number of things. I’ve had a longterm interest in international development, seeing trade justice as a key way to lift people out of the poverty they find themselves in. It seems to me that the world is a very unfair place and so anything we can do to support people that need it is a good thing, especially if it’s helping build skills and communities. Like many others I also have a growing awareness of the climate emergency so certainly don’t want to be encouraging unnecessary production. We focus on using materials, processes and energy that’s regenerative to create beautiful items that are functional and can be properly disposed of when they are finally out of use. The other key point is that I’m a very curious person and ask questions about everything (you’ll notice that even the name of the business is a question!). I wanted to know everything about the clothing that I was buying for my young children – what they were made of, where any fibres were farmed, how they were dyed, printed and tailored and so much more. Very few brands I spoke to were able to answer my questions.
Basically all these streams collided in the middle of the night back in 2012 and I had my ‘eureka’ moment – deciding I wanted to create kind clothes that tell tales – beautiful, eco-friendly and fair trade clothing with a code on each label so that the customer can explore the garment story from beginning to end. I also came up with the business name in that middle of the night moment and would not be talked out of it (probably a little stubborn as I have since learned that the name is too long, a question mark at the end can be awkward for computer systems and starting with a W means that we are at the bottom of most lists!).
Once I had the idea in my head I spent a very long time researching how to deliver it. I spoke to many, many people and organisations in the UK and also in developing communities around the world. I did have some experience of sourcing as my first venture was an eco school uniform brand which I closed down as I’d come up against some key barriers on price and also around ownership of school logos. I stuck with children’s clothing though for the first collection of Where Does It Come From? – deciding to start with artisan woven denims for children’s jeans, jackets, shorts and dresses. There were plenty of teething troubles to building our first transparent supply chain – the first partnership fell through as they could not give me the transparency that I required. Fortunately I ‘met’ on Linkedin a lady in India who runs our now longest term social enterprise, MoralFibre Fabrics. They had just set up and were focusing on khadi, a traditional fabric promoted by Gandhi as part of the liberation movement of India. This fabric is created by hand using locally grown cottons, creating jobs, skills and supporting local farmers – it’s also powered by hand and solar so very low carbon. We’ve gone on to work with a range of social enterprise partners in India, Africa and the UK and have grown our understanding and use of different processes and materials. My favourites are still the indigenous cotton khadi which relies on rainfall, zero chemical pesticides and supports soil health and farmer well-being. We’re also working with more innovative materials such as tencel and processes such as dry dyeing.
Over the years the business direction has evolved, firstly with our number of designs widening to scarves, adult shirts, bags and accessories. In 2018 we set up a transparent supply chain in Africa too, working with organic rainfed cotton from Uganda and having tunics, scarves, pocket squares and scrunchies tailored at a Fairtrade social enterprise in Malawi. This supply chain set up was funded by a crowdfund campaign (which caused a few grey hairs and sleepless nights).
Like many others we faced huge challenges in 2020 when our income dropped substantially (imagine tumbleweed drifting across a desert….). Fortunately we pivoted early into organic rainfed cotton masks in collaboration with our friends at Khadi London, which brought in some revenue as well as supporting jobs in both the UK and a rural co-operative in India. I’m also very proud of our mask design – 100% plastic free and natural. I can’t say that it was an easy or successful year financially, but crucially we are still here!
Over the last few of years we also started working directly with businesses to supply their merchandise, clothing and other textiles. I had long felt that encouraging businesses to spend their budgets ethically and sustainably is the way forward – I know Green Hosting have the same objective! We’ve now had a number of clients such as SAP, East of England Co-op, Essential Trading and a range of smaller businesses from toymakers to jewellery brands. Productions are custom so we can tailor to each business’s requirements, both functional and values – adapting design, materials and supply chain to fit Corprorate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals. Each item we create comes with a QR code linking to its story, giving the business a chance to showcase its eco/ethical credentials to its customers and/or staff. It’s an exciting direction and I’m looking forward to growing Where Does It Come From? in this direction.
Thank you for this opportunity to share our story. Running a wind powered website fits completely into Where Does It Come From?’s ethos and it has been a pleasure working with you over the past few years. We are soon launching our new website and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with you to share it with the world (via your excellent green hosting servers!).
28th Jul 2021
Next up in our client origin story series is Cocoon, the conscious marketing communications company for eco-friendly and sustainable brands. This story encapsulates the sheer power of our natural world to change our lives. No more spoilers from me. Over to you Katie...
2016 was an exciting year for me. I’d spent 4 months working and travelling around America, spent a lovely summer at my home on the Isle of Wight, and on the 5th December I headed off for another adventure – this time to New Zealand.
I know people talk about the beauty of the land of the long white cloud, but I really don’t think I gave it that much thought. After an hour and a half of watching Finding Dory my plane from Sydney started descending and as I saw the craggy coastlines and rolling green hills I can honestly remember the moment when I thought “wow, this place is different..”
My first month or so was spent in Hamilton where my boyfriend was studying. No offence Hamilton, but there is a reason why a lot of travellers pass on through, there really isn’t an awful lot to do. After getting itchy feet, I booked a solo trip up to the Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga for a weekend. Despite the cramped bunk in my hostel, Paihia was one of the prettiest towns I’d ever seen and I spent as much time as I could outside; on land and at sea! One thing I distinctly remember were the incredible sunrises and sunsets. I swear they have their own separate skies over there – I’d never seen anything like it! After the weekend I had a 4-hour bus ride home, and I was gifted with yet another sunset so stunning that I literally had to fight back tears.
This is what New Zealand did to me. The next 9 months were a constant stream of being slapped in the face by mother nature. I hiked active volcanoes, surfed in the crystal-clear sea, walked on a glacier, swam in natural hot springs, saw wild penguins, saw copious waterfalls, some waterfalls with rainbows, some waterfalls with rainbows and dolphins. And I literally wanted to cry the whole time about how in love with it I was.
Before my trip I can’t remember being overly interested in the environment. I’d just come back from the states where you felt like a freak if you weren’t carrying a disposable Starbucks cup. I’d been working in health and beauty PR and thought “hauls” were cool and that I literally HAD to get my hands on that NAKED palette even though I hadn’t the foggiest how to use it.
New Zealand taught me so much. It taught me that in 9 months you can happily live from a backpack. I even donated some of my clothes to charity because I was annoyed at how much stuff I had. It taught me that mother nature is incredible and terrifying, from making me want to cry in awe of a mountain range to making me want to cry in fear of being stuck in the middle of a storm cell in a campervan! Mostly it taught me that I had to clean up my act because how I was living wasn’t good for the world around me. My wardrobe, my makeup and skincare, my belongings, my daily habits. I spent the next few months back home stripping down and donating to charity what I just wasn’t using, whilst choosing to buy more quality purchases that lasted, mending things, clothes sharing and swapping, using up all the skincare and make-up that was just sat gathering dust rather than buying the next ‘in’ thing.
The final piece of the puzzle to clean up was my job. Being unemployed was a scary prospect, and so I quickly went on the job hunt and had interviews with big technology and health companies. I came away each time feeling like it went well, but deep down I could feel that my heart wasn’t in it. I had requests for second interviews and even a job offer but I just kept running from my phone. I couldn’t bring myself to accept anything. None of them felt right. I could feel mother nature’s eyes burning in the back of my head, judging me almost for ignoring everything she’d shown me.
I’m so glad that I did what I did, or I wouldn’t be where I am now. Although I didn’t start Cocoon straight away, I returned to University to do my MA in Digital Marketing and set-up Cocoon alongside my studies and used it as a working portfolio for my course. I gained more clarity, focus and knowledge in that year and it really cemented that this is what I want to do.
After a slow first year of growing my client base with pro bono work and small local clients, Cocoon has never been so busy, and in 2021 I’ve been lucky to work with some incredible brands like Mura Technology, Net Zero Company, MyPlasticDiary App, Wild & Stone, BEYONDPLASTIC, Magi, Nature Metrics and many more.
Going forwards, I can’t wait to discover more brands, learn more about what we can do to help the world and its inhabitants, and meet some amazing people too!
Thank you, Aotearoa, you are amazing <3