3 mins read | Creating Change

Adapting to climate change: Our artisan weavers

Woman sweeping a clay floor with a straw broom in Ghana Africa.

Did you know the world’s 50 least developed countries (LDCs) produce less than 1% of global emissions? And seeing as the fashion industry accounts for approximately 4% of global emissions, a lot of which is made in and exploitative of LDCs, it’s our responsibility to start changing this reality.

Guided by NGO partners and the lived experiences of our wonderfully skilled case weavers in Ghana – a country on the frontline of climate change – we have helped to innovate materials, pivot skills and improve social mobility to advocate for climate justice.

Front-line communities and climate change

Working in close partnership with Care4basket, we are connected with three rural basket weaving communities in Bolgatanga, Upper East Ghana.

Our weavers have suffered the devastating impacts of climate change on their food security and livelihoods. The elephant grass they traditionally use in their craft has moved further south due to drought and crop failure has affected farming.

Pile of recycled plastic water sachets twisted into yarn to weave into Pala sunglasses cases in Ghana

Innovating with recycled plastic

Innovating the weaving process by using recycled plastic waste and discarded water sachets rather than elephant grass has provided a readily available material which has a whole host of benefits.

In Ghana, drinking water is largely bought in plastic sachets. By placing a material value on these means they are collected and sold to be recycled, as opposed to being trashed. In fact, Pala cases alone have diverted 5 tonnes worth of waste plastic and 30,000 water sachets from being sent to landfill or being burned.

With crop failure, women would need to travel long distances on foot through the bush to collect elephant grass, which can be dangerous. By using recycled plastic – there is no risk involved, not to mention much more efficient – meaning they can spend more time weaving & selling – increasing income too!

Weavers for all generations gathered under a baobab tree in Zaare Akundenbisi

Preserving traditional skills passed down through generations

By experimenting with recycled plastic and new shapes, the weavers have been able to adapt their skills, ones which have been passed down through generations and preserve them for generations to come – our unique cases are a celebration of that adaptation.

Sunglasses case being woven by artisan out of recycled plastic and water sachets

“Using recycled plastic waste materials for hand woven sunglasses cases in partnership with Pala, the weavers are able to bridge the income gap when crops fail, which due to climate change is becoming more frequent. ”

Jib Hagan, Founder of NGO Care4basket

Sustainable Income Streams

By paying our weavers more than 2.5x the national minimum wage, they are able to pay for things beyond everyday necessities such as hospital, school and funeral fees which would otherwise be a struggle.

This gives the community as a whole a greater opportunity to empower themselves out of poverty. By becoming better educated and healthier – a more developed community starts to take shape.

Four female women from Ghana smiling and dancing together

What next?

Our dream is to give our weaving communities in Ghana more work than we currently do, and give them the funding to continue adapting to the effects of climate change. For that to happen, we need to grow. And for you reader, we need your support in building a community of advocates who share our story.

So if you’re inspired by our weavers, or believe in the way we’re trying to do business better – share this story and become a part of our community.

Watch the weavers at work