Celebrate @ E2Expo

Ethical and artisanal home decor from Zambian tribal communities

Updated : November 2020

Stakeholders

  • NGOs
  • Textile industry sustainability professionals

Empowering tribal artisan communities through handcrafted textiles

Tribal Textiles works to create sustainable impact for the tribal communities in South Luangwa, Zambia through fashion creativity and craftsmanship by going beyond fair wages, reinvesting in community strengthening initiatives, and supporting local wildlife conservation. Each of their products is made in a sustainable manner.

From design to production, they employ a unique process to make their clothing using water-based, non-hazardous and non-toxic paints sourced from South Africa that are safe for both people and the environment. The organization uses a unique combination of colours for dyeing and finishing. Products are then baked in an industrial oven at 155 degrees Celsius, which makes the textiles colour fast & fully washable. 


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Topics

Upcycling cloth waste into small accessories

Handcrafted textile products

Artisan training in textile product and business development

Hand painted textiles

Water based textile dyeing

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  1. Tribal textiles

Company/Organization

Tribal Textiles

Geography

| Zambia

Year Established

1991

Profile/Background

Tribal Textiles has its community in the core of its business functions. Located in a remote region of Zambia, they work to create a sustainable impact through grassroots development. They strive to strengthen their small, rural community by providing artisans with textile business opportunities, creatively supporting conservation, and investing in local initiatives. Artisans receive 100% of the proceeds from their sales. Tribal Textiles reinvests 5% of each purchase in local community and conservation initiatives.

Highlights and sustainability benefits

  • Any leftover paint from a design project is mixed together to produce black paint.
  • They use any fabric scraps to create a variety of small accessories.
  • They avoid single-use plastics wherever possible and plastic bags are no longer used in their shops.
  • They have partnered with the National Milling Corporation to recycle maize bags that they donate as shopper bags for their retail outlets
  • In 2018, they built a recycling centre and trained local artisans to upcycle excess glass bottles into a beautiful range of products, providing a creative solution for an ongoing waste management problem in the South Luangwa Valley.

About the Work

Besides using innovative technology for cloth making, their hand-painted process is also sustainable. From design to production, they minimise the environmental impact by sourcing locally, using sustainable materials, and repurposing waste. To help provide sustainable income for makers and their families, they train each artisan in product development, design, merchandising, accounting, and pricing. The organization also gives them access to local and international wholesale markets.

Recognition

Through different sustainable textile programs, Tribal Textiles has become the Luangwa region’s primary handicraft destination and one of Zambia’s Centres of Craft Excellence and Innovation. Malimba, Tribal Textile's school is funded by the government and other organizations such as VSIP, Make Me Smile and Tribal Textiles. They are currently ranked second in the district, educating over 500 children.

Other Sections

Sustainable Tech @ work

Sustainable Case Studies

Sustainable Carbon Focus

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