Sustainability (noun); the ability to be sustained, supported, upheld or confirmed.
For the Cotton On Foundation, being sustainable is part of everything we do. Whether it’s part of our product model, or the way we operate within our global projects, we’re on a journey to ensure our impact makes a lasting change on the people and environments we touch.
From bio-gas toilets that fuel energy in kitchens, to the Nutrition Mission program that empowers caregivers with skills for generations. Here are a few of our favourite sustainable initiatives your life-changing purchases are funding across the globe!
With a focus on long term solutions to food security, the participation based learning workshops run for about two weeks. They cover topics like how to grow your own vegetables, hygiene in the kitchen, nutrition, recipes and learning to use the materials we’ve got to create a sustainable change.
Since the launch in 2015, the program has now seen over 2,000 graduates globally!
It’s all about partnering with communities to provide caregivers with the essential knowledge and skills to adopt better practices for themselves, their families and the wider community, not just now, but for generations to come – making lasting change.
In Sub-Sahara Africa, over 80% of the population rely primarily on solid biomass to meet basic household needs, such as cooking and lighting. This includes firewood, charcoal and agricultural by-products, and accounts for 74% of the total energy consumption for Africa, which is significantly higher than other developing countries.
This is why we’re installing biogas digesters in each of our new school builds! Waste from the school toilets is collected in the “digester”, and as the microbes break down they create methane. The methane gas is then captured in the pipes and pumped up towards the school kitchen and used daily to cook meals for the students. The most sustainable eco toilets yet! Cool right?
There are many aspects of a Cotton On Foundation school build that are slightly different to a typical school you might see in your community. Each and every one of these are for a specific reason, and are put in place to last for years to come, while minimizing environmental impact.
In a Cotton On Foundation school you won’t see glass windows. In their place is wooden shutters, letting natural light and wind through, to cool and light up the classrooms without electricity.
You’ll also see tiny holes in the roof. What might seem like a weird fault, is actually put in place to let natural light into the rooms throughout the day, providing the perfect solution to no electricity to provide lighting.
Teacher development has been a key focus area for 2018, with a new Head of Teacher Development joining our local team in Uganda.
We have also welcomed three experienced literacy mentors to launch our Teacher Training Program at six supported primary schools. The mentors support two schools each, and are in classes with the teachers every day observing, helping to plan and providing ongoing 1:1 coaching.
Two teacher development mentors have also joined the team in Thailand, working closely with teachers on daily curriculum, lesson planning and classroom management.
Coffee Caregiver Group
In Uganda, we also offer programs for parents and community members designed to increase engagement and promote sustainable change. There are three Coffee Caregiver groups with a total of 216 members, 37 of which are parents of students in Cotton On Foundation supported schools.
Training is provided to The Coffee Caregiver Group members around growing their own coffee beans and helping to develop the necessary skills to run their own small coffee business. These are valuable skills that can be passed down for generations, providing an income to support the entire family. This year, 28 Coffee Caregiver Group training sessions were held.
We want to ensure that our contribution has long term benefits for the communities that we partner with. Many students that graduate from Cotton On Foundation supported schools, go on to vocational studies or University, and choose to come back and work in their local community.
This year, we’re going big with the pathway of a student beyond secondary schooling. Because, we know that a child’s journey doesn’t stop there, and because the return on investing in a child’s future is endless.