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Firm has dress sense; Recycling initiative will benefit poor in Kenya.

Byline: By Tony Henderson Environment Editor

A BUSINESS in the North-East has shown good dress sense by packing up almost 4,000 old uniforms so they can be used in one of Africa's poorest communities.

People and property business Gentoo was left with the clothing after its rebranding in June from its previous name of Sunderland Housing Group.

Gentoo sustainability officer Michelle Treglown decided to search for a good home for the jackets, jumpers, blouses, trousers and other clothing.

The company donated the items for use in Kenya after linking up with the international relief and development charity World Emergency Relief (WER).

Ms Treglown said: "I thought that if all that clothing ended up in landfill it would be such a waste."

At Gentoo's depot on Sunderland's Leechmere Industrial Estate, the items were loaded by staff volunteers on to a container due to arrive in Nairobi in around six weeks' time. The consignment will be delivered to the Kenyan Christian Industrial Training Institute (KCITI), a large vocational not-for-profit college, which is a partner of WER in Kenya.

KCITI will distribute the items to its students and the local Mathare district, an impoverished community with 750,000 residents.

Alex Haxton, director of operations for WER, said: "We are thrilled to partner Gentoo and congratulate them on thinking beyond normal recycling and green parameters.

"This donation will be a real practical blessing to students in the college and many thousands of residents of the Mathare Township.

"Every year, WER ships around 1,000 tonnes of recyclable products which otherwise would often end up in landfill."

The initiative forms part of the group's wider environmental strategy, the focus of the Gentoo green arm of the business, which has recently been awarded a Green Apple environmental award.

Sally Hancox, director of Gentoo Green, said: "At Gentoo, we recognise that we have a responsibility to give the planet a little something back and we were happy to be able to follow through on such a fantastic idea from a member of staff - their dedication shone through, with the time and effort they have contributed simply astounding.

"This is our first international project but we are hoping to expand on our green agenda through further initiatives like this one and will continue to encourage staff to come up with new ideas - no matter how challenging they may seem."


FIT FOR PURPOSE: Michelle Treglown donates uniforms to Alex Haxton, of World Emergency Relief.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 17, 2007
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