Meet Tree Tribe, a social enterprise that plants 10 trees for every eco-friendy pair of sunglasses that are purchased. Tree Tribe partners with non-profit organizations that plant trees to naturally replenish the environment, while at the same time providing food, shelter, and economic opportunities to communities around the world. The main contribution goes to planting forest gardens – diverse plots of trees and supporting species that help communities self-sustain.
Below is a really great in-depth interview with Tree Tribe Co-Founder, Joe Lannen. He and Co-Founders, Sharif Gordon & Dylan Basile started Tree Tribe in the Summer of 2015 and since then have already planted over 50,000 trees around the world!
How did Tree Tribe come to be a social enterprise? Can you walk us through how the idea came about?
I was spending a lot of time in nature, backpacking, camping, etc, and the Earth gave me so much joy that I wanted to find a way to return the favor.
On the social enterprise level, part of our mission is to inspire other businesses to give back as well. This is also one of my personal goals for 2017, to teach and inspire people to start and get involved in social enterprises.
How tough was it to find a reputable manufacturer to produce the Tree Tribe sunglasses as well as finding the right non-profit partners to carry out the Tree Tribe mission?
It can be hard, but it’s really a matter of thorough research and testing, developing relationships, and sampling from multiple manufacturers to find a good fit. I researched and contacted manufacturers from a few different countries to find the best fit.
For non-profit partners, I look for reputable organizations that have been around and have transparency and active social media accounts. Our first partner, Trees for the Future, has been planting trees for 25+ years and they have a very efficient system. They also post a lot of cool personal stories about the communities that we’re helping.
We’ll continue working with more partners, so we can plant trees in more countries and get involved in a variety of projects.
Where does all the wood come from? Is the bamboo sourced from a particular area of the world?
The non-profits you have teamed up with really seem to focus on local jobs and sustainable community ideas. Do all your non-profit partners hire locals to plant all the trees?
How does Tree Tribe choose where the 10 trees will get planted for every pair sold? You are currently planting trees in nearly a dozen countries, so how do you allocate the tree planting? Do you do a particular country each month?
Another idea we’re thinking about doing is letting the customer choose which country they want to plant the trees in.
When you take a step back and pause how does this accomplishment make you feel?
It’s been a life goal to create some type of business that could be used as a vehicle to give back to the Earth, and now living inside this goal is pretty cool.
What has been the most memorable moment from one of the non-profits you have partnered with. Do they have a story how Tree Tribe has helped impact their life and community?
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