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Coffee and Conservation Q&A: What Does Your Purchase Really Fund?

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

It’s no secret that in this day and age companies boast their philanthropies left and right. “Donate to this!” “Purchase our product to fund that!”, it’s nothing new. Sure, it may look good on paper… or device, but have you ever caught yourself wondering where exactly your money goes?


Here at Red Panda Coffee Co. we believe in transparency. Coffee is our name, but saving Red Pandas really is our game. How, you ask? We are happy to tell you.

At Red Panda Coffee Co., 10% of profits from each bag we sell goes directly to the Red Panda Network.

Once there, that money is used for various projects in an effort to improve the quality of life of the species. We spoke with Terrance Fleming, the super cool development manager of The Red Panda Network, who was happy to answer some of the questions we frequently have about businesses, ourselves.

Red Panda Coffee Co: In short, what is the mission of the Red Panda Network?

Terrance: Our mission is committed to the conservation of wild red pandas through the education and empowerment of the community around us: We are community based.


To us, being community based means involving and benefiting the local people of Nepal. Essentially, the communities we work with largely struggle with poverty, access to amenities and a lot of things that we westerners tend to have access to.


We work to provide them with ways to meet their daily needs and bolster their livelihoods. This means anything from access to improved cooking stoves and training in organic farming, to alternative income. When we serve the community, they are better equipped to help themselves and each of our initiatives to conserve the red pandas.

(https://www.redpandanetwork.org/red-panda-facts/resources-publications/)

When our customers buy a bag of our coffee, what kind of work does that 10% go towards?


Terrance: Yeah, so essentially that money goes towards our programs that align with our core themes. Those are:

  • To research and monitor the red panda species

  • To work with education and outreach involving local communities

  • To create sustainable livelihoods for those working with red pandas

  • To maintain and preserve the habitat of the red pandas.

To fund the Anti-Poaching and “Plant a Red Panda Home” initiatives dealing with conservation and reforestation, as well as in an effort to stop the Illegal Red Panda Trade.


(https://www.redpandanetwork.org/what-we-do/)


Red Panda Coffee Co: Do our customers have any choice in which project their money goes towards?


Terrance: Most donations go to our “Plant a Red Panda Home” initiative, which is a priority right now.


Sometimes we do appeals to support specific causes within the network, such as our holiday campaign that is coming up. “Stoves for Stewards” is something we are doing now that works to provide our Forest Guardians with efficient and improved stoves, essentially made of metal. The stoves being used now need wood for fuel, which is why trees are being cut down so often.


Providing metal stoves gives our Forest Guardians better quality utilities and preserves the habitat for Red Pandas, as there is less of a need for firewood and less smoke.


Red Panda Coffee Co: We read that you are establishing the world's first protected area dedicated to the red panda. What does that project look like?


Terrance: PIT stands for the “Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung” Forest, which is where we started and where 25% of red pandas live.


Not all of the forest is protected though, and we are working with local people who manage and protect their part of the forest. Through our education and outreach we hope to teach people how to live harmoniously with wildlife. Although our main focus is the red panda, there are tons of other animal species that live in the forest and will be protected as well.


Red Panda Coffee Co: Your website mentioned that the Center for Conservation and Sustainable Living was set to be completed by 2021. How has Covid-19 impacted that progress?


Terrance: So we did run into some complications when covid first hit, but we have since put the project back up and are still planning to get it complete by 2021.


I often get photos from the site to share and update our donors on the progress. Actually, the first floor is close to done and there will end up being two or three floors. It’s a green building and it’s pretty state of the art. We are really excited about this.


Red Panda Coffee Co: Could you share a story or anecdote of a time that a business profit donation has directly impacted your work with red pandas?


Terrance: Yeah! I mean we just had “International Red Panda Day '' back in September and business sponsors donated a good percent to that.

It costs a dollar to plant a tree in Nepal, so every dollar we get plants a tree. Our goal was 10,000 trees and we met that. We received more than that actually, and business donations had a lot to do with it.

(https://www.redpandanetwork.org/get-involved/international-red-panda-day/)


Red Panda Coffee Co: Fun Fact! Tell us something our readers would be surprised to learn about red pandas!


Terrance: I was just thinking about this! Angela Glatston, chair of Red Panda Network’s board as well as Convener of the Red Panda GSMP, knows more about red pandas than anyone in the world. She worked for the Rotterdam Zoo, and something she talked about was how playful they are! The dad panda would play with the cubs all the time. This is interesting because in mammals the moms are usually more engaged than the dads. That didn’t seem to be the case though, but it isn’t something that we know happens in the wild. In a habitat where the families are kept together, it seemed to be!


Red Panda Coffee Co: What is your favorite way to drink coffee? Time, place, roast, attire?


Terrance: (Laughs) I’m drinking coffee right now!

I drink it with a little bit of cream and I am usually done by now (3pm his time), but I am driven by coffee and think anyone working nowadays needs to be motivated chemically! I can’t wait to drink Red Panda Coffee once I get a grinder!


Red Panda Coffee Co. is thrilled to partner with The Red Panda Network and sends endless thanks to their team for their efforts, as well as to Terrance for his willingness to interview with us! For more information on the Red Panda Network, visit: https://www.redpandanetwork.org.


Have a question? A good story? Just wanna chat? We’d love to hear what you have to say! Use our chat box or email us at admin@redpandacoffeeco.com


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