Iskashitaa Refugee Network
Iskashitaa Refugee Network reduces the content of landfills, the malnutrition of refugees and low-income Tucsonans, and the amount of wasted water by annually gleaning 50,000-75,000 of pounds of local produce and redistributing it to refugees and non profits serving the Tucson community. Since 2003, Iskashitaa has redistributed 800,000 servings of fruits and vegetables. By providing local produce, we have greatly reduced carbon footprints by decreasing produce purchased from grocery stores, which has been transported an average of 1500 miles.
When refugees expressed interest in acquiring looms for weaving, rather than purchasing looms, our volunteers brought supplies from home and taught the refugees how to make their own looms.
How does the company exemplify the concept of “reusing”?
Iskashitaa Refugee Network embodies the concept of “reusing” in all that we do. Our sewing and crafts program utilizes reused sewing machines, fabric, trim, batting, pins, and scissors, donated from community members, to teach refugees sewing skills, empowering them to create clothing and other items for household and to sell as part of our micro-enterprise program. Crochet hooks and knitting needles are donated and given to refugees to reuse. Palm fronds are collected from homeowners and landscapers and reused to make baskets. Bed sheets are collected from homeowners, resort hotels, and massage schools and used to make rugs. Plastic bags, including newspaper bags, pet food bags, and vegetable bags, are reused to make water bottle holders and baskets.
What is this company’s recycling policy and practice?
Iskashitaa Refugee Network has a recycling bin on site that is full every week! All staff members and volunteers are instructed to recycle everything possible. When we have an offsite event and recycling is not available, it’s common practice for us to bring the recyclables back to our office to make sure they do not end up in a landfill.
How is this company engaging and informing consumers and employees about the 3 “Rs” and other sustainable practices?
Iskashitaa educates the public through presentations to student groups, faith based organizations, neighborhood and homeowners associations, and civic clubs about the vast amount of food waste. These groups are mobilized to help us identify food resources going to waste and harvest them, and to collect unwanted crafts supplies and redistribute them to refugees. We have been invited twice to present at the White House as a model that should be replicated across the country. Thousands of homeowners have been educated about stopping food waste through information channels including the Ward offices, Pima County Public Library, and events. We have provided community education through public service announcements, NPR, Arizona Illustrated, AZPM, and more.
What else would you like us to know about this company?
Iskashitaa Refugee Network has an industrial compost pile on site, and our staff and volunteers are viligent about composting all organic material. This compost is then sifted and bagged and given to refugees who have potted plants and window box gardens in their apartment complex, garden plots in community gardens, or backyard gardens in newly rented or purchased homes. Refugees are taught about the importance of composting and how to compost, and receive compost to get their first gardens in Tucson thriving.