Reforest Tea: Our Story
In 2015, I took some time off work and travelled to Guatemala. The name “Guatemala” comes from the indigenous Náhuatl word meaning “land of many trees”, so it seemed like an obvious place to start. I arrived in the highland city of Quetzaltenango and made contact with a non-profit there, the “Proyecto de Reforestación Chico Mendes”, and started volunteering in their native tree nursery.
After a few days it was obvious that the project was limited by finances and, more generally, that this was the limiting factor for most such projects. Tree-planting and forest conservation work is expensive: if one tree costs a dollar or two to plant, then a million trees is going to cost one or two million dollars. Conversely, I viewed this as an opportunity: the more funds available, the more trees it would be possible to plant and the more forest to conserve.
Our position as an organisation would be to support the many projects around the world which already have the expert local knowledge and understanding, and access to land and labour, but which are limited by funding. Quickly moving past the “grant” and “donation” models, I decided to focus on starting a social business: something connected to trees and forests, something that supported sustainable jobs in the developing world, and –most importantly– something that people wanted to buy.