Fashion is the second biggest polluting industry in the world.
The fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions, is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply and pollutes our oceans with microplastics. If you love fashion and the planet, then what you buy makes a difference.
As a creator of sustainable fashion, it’s our duty to be transparent.
Our quarterly sustainability reports disclose our social and environmental policies, practices and impact.
Transparency does not equal sustainability, but Transparency + Accountability = Change
The SDG’s are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. By aligning each section of our Q4 report with the SDG we are actively owning our responsibility to support the achievement of these goals.
Here’s a review of the choices we’ve made in Q4 2020.
We believe in the importance of strong working relationships and value our supply base.
In Q4 of 2020 as a global community, we are witnessing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as they unfold. With a devastating human toll and an unprecedented shock to the world’s economy, it goes without saying that the fashion industry and supply chains have suffered. Factories have faced order cancellations and suspensions. As a consequence of this many factories are struggling to pay employees, which has led to layoffs and factory closures. This has had devastating ramifications for developing nations, jeopardising basic human needs and food security, as well as the long-term economic impact that has yet to be quantified.
It is our responsibility to honour our commitments both to our makers, and to our sustainability practices and strategy going forward. We have stood in solidarity with our makers and suppliers fulfilling all of our orders placed for this quarter. Social sustainability is about identifying and managing business impacts, both positive and negative, on our people.
However, our makers have faced order cancellations of up to 30% and reductions of up to 80% in comparison to the same time last year
as a result of other brands failing to honour their commitments.
We spoke with our Q4 Makers about how COVID-19 has affected them...
Bernard - our knitwear Maker.
"Due to retail stores shutting down and other restrictive measures taken by governments in many countries, the brands and retailers we work with have incurred substantial trading losses. As such they have cancelled their orders and have stopped delivering produced goods, which in turn reduces new orders units that would ordinarily be made by us. We have lost about 30% of our business.
COVID-19 heavily impacted the supply chain in February and March, but the production chain in China is now back to normal.
Due to significant order reductions, many factories have had to put steps in place to protect the future of their business. We have reduced the number of employees, with remaining workers adapting to revised hours, reduced to 3 or 4 days per week.
Without enough orders it is hard to survive. COVID-19 has had a very serious impact."
Jason – the Maker of Penny.
"As a result of COVID-19 other brands have reduced their order quantities by around 20%. Communication and timelines have also slowed.
All of our employees have returned to work, but we are not working at full capacity. We are fortunate as we did not have to let any workers go, but they did get more holidays than before.
The government has reduced some taxes and the factory is functioning properly now, but we haven’t earned any money in the past 3 months – I hope everything will be better soon."
Joyce – the Maker of Fleetwood Jersey.
"For the orders already placed, most of our customers have kept the same quantity as their original purchase order.
But for new orders placed more recently we have experienced a reduction of 40-80% by comparison to the same period last year.
We are not working at full capacity as there are not enough orders.
Many of our workers have not returned to work.
If we do not receive more orders a partial closure of our business is likely to continue for several months."
Rose – the Maker of Fleetwood, Breeze & Esmee.
"Other brands that we work with have reduce their order quantity. The reduction is equal to about 100,000 garments, which is around 50% of our business.
All of our employees have now returned to work and I am confident that everything will return to normal soon.
The main impact for my business is that the order quantities are very small: I need more orders now.
For me personally, the main impact is that I have reduced outdoor time and I must wear a mask when I go out."
To find out more about how COVID-19 has impacted the people who make our clothes head on over to the blog HERE 🕊
On World Oceans Day 2020 we launched our Sea Shepherd printed tee.
100% of profits from sale of the tee were donated to Sea Shepherd.
Thanks to you we gave
to support Sea Shepherd’s ongoing campaigns to defend, conserve and protect our oceans! Find out more about how your donations are being used over on the blog HERE 🌏 & HERE 💚
The fashion industry offers employment opportunities in developing countries, liberating people from poverty.
By committing to regular and consistent orders with our makers we help to ensure job and food security for their workers.
We are committed to using certified fibres and fabrics to ensure the health and well-being of the whole supply chain from the farmers, to the spinners, weavers and makers and ultimately our customers too.
We partner with a supplier that offers education and training to empower disadvantaged women to enter the workforce.
By having a code of conduct in place and auditing our suppliers for social compliance we ensure labour rights are protected and workers have secure working environments.
Through our partnership with makers that have aligned values we strengthen implementation and progress towards the achievement of SDGs.
By using organic and BCI cotton fibres we are helping to contribute to more sustainable agricultural practices.
By having a restricted substance list in place, we hope to eliminate exposure to harmful chemicals.
We are committed to using Lenzing fibres as they are extracted from sustainably and responsibly sourced renewable raw wood pulp.
By working with certified mills we aspire to minimise water contamination.
By using organic cotton we are helping to protect soil health and conserve ecosystems.
Fibres Used in Q4 2020
Our Heroes are certified, low impact natural fibres that have been highly rated according to their effect on global warming, eco-toxicity, water scarcity and abiotic resource depletion. Our heroes have been chosen based on their closed-loop production process – an important step to contribute to the circular economy in the fashion industry. In this category: Lenzing Tencel – Lenzing certification and licensing required; Revive – rescued & repurposed fabric off-cuts.
Rising Stars are certified, low impact natural fibres that have been highly rated according to their effect on global warming, eco-toxicity, water scarcity and abiotic resource depletion. In this category: Lenzing Tencel Modal – Lenzing certification and licensing required; Lenzing Ecovero – Lenzing certification and licensing required; Organic Cotton – GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) or OCS(Organic Content Standard) certification required; Mechanically Recycled Nylon – GRS (Global Recycled Standard)certification required.
These materials are natural and renewable, but we recognise there is a need for more ethical alternatives. In this category: Wool - RWS (Responsible Wool Standard) certification preferred however, minimum order quantities are a challenge.
We are committed to using natural and recycled fibres in our collections however, sometimes it is necessary to blend synthetic fibres to achieve qualities crucial for the performance of the fabrics. As fibres continue to evolve and cost-effective solutions are created we will endeavour to find sustainable alternatives. In this category: Elastane- a synthetic fibre, unfortunately, a necessary requirement for stretch fabrics; Polyester – another synthetic fibre we generally avoid. We have had to blend a small amount of this fibre in our lace to provide strength. Ideally, we would use recycled polyester however, as the minimums are incredibly high this wasn’t possible but is something we are striving to achieve for future developments.
Global Warming is a serious environmental issue primarily caused by human activities such as fossil fuel burning, contributing to the increase in Earth's average surface temperature due to rising levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
Eutrophication is when a body of water becomes overly enriched with minerals and nutrients due to run-off from the land, which causes a dense growth of plant life. This can eventually lead to water bodies that can't support aquatic life. The greening of waterways also increases the emission of methane into the atmosphere leading to the acceleration of climate change.
Water is becoming increasingly scarce, due to excessive & unnecessary use and wastage, climate change, and pollution.
Abiotic depletion refers to the exhaustion of natural (non-living)resources, such as fossil fuels, metals, and minerals. The main concern is the ecosystem’s health and how it is affected by the extraction of natural resources with regard to soil degradation, water shortages, biodiversity loss, air pollution, and ultimately exacerbation of global warming.
Below we assess the impact of our fibre choices in Q4 on the planet.
Lenzing Ecovero and Lenzing Tencel versus conventional viscose (aka rayon).
Lenzing Tencel Modal versus conventional modal.
Recycled nylon versus conventional nylon.
As an example, by using Lenzing Tencel Modal that’s a sustainable alternative to conventional modal, we have reduced our carbon footprint by 6,589 Kg of C02 emissions.
Another incredible figure is the difference in water usage when comparing our choice to use organic cotton versus conventional cotton. By making this sustainable switch, in the past quarter alone we have saved 296,206 gallons of water. Ecologically and socially progressive, organic cotton generally uses less water as small-scale farms tend to be rain-fed rather than irrigated, plus no synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that demand greater amounts of water are used.
Sustainable choices create change.
Our choices to use sustainable fibres has had the following, positive reduced impact in the past quarter:
GLOBAL WARMING 🌏 12,969.01 Kg CO2
EUTROPHICATION 🌿 14.88 Kg PO4 eq.
WATER SCARCITY 💧 333,130.02 Gallons
ABIOTIC DEPLETION ⚡️ 147,109.15 MJ eq.
PRINTING & DYING
100% of our fibres were responsibly dyed in Q4 2020.
Bluesign = 31% Bluesign is a holistic system that provided solutions in sustainable processing and manufacturing, ensuring that products/finished textiles are manufactured with the lowest possible impact on people and the environment.
Oeko Tex 100 = 55% Oeko Tex 100 certifies that no substances harmful to human health are present in the finished textiles. Substances tested are both regulated and non-regulated going beyond international requirements. Tests are conducted by independent Oeko Tex Partner institutes.
GOTS = 1% With GOTS all chemical inputs (e.g. dyes, auxiliaries, and process chemicals) must be evaluated and meeting basic requirements on toxicity and biodegradability/eliminability. Prohibition of critical inputs such as toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde, aromatic solvents, functional nano particles, genetically modified organisms (GMO) and their enzymes. The use of synthetic sizing agents is restricted; knitting and weaving oils must not contain heavy metals. Bleaches must be based on oxygen (no chlorine bleaching). Azo dyes that release carcinogenic amine compounds are prohibited
RSL = 13%
We always try and source mills that have Oeko Tex 100 certification or are Bluesign System Partners. Further to this, we have a restricted substance list in place as part of our supplier agreement. This is to ensure that no banned harmful chemicals are used in the production of our garments.
New Fabrics in Q4 2020.
You may have noticed that we stopped producing intimates for a while; we did this as the fibres being used were not sustainable.
It has taken us almost two years of sourcing and development to create a new lace quality made mostly from recycled nylon. Our new Faith intimates are crafted from 66% recycled nylon that is produced from pre-consumer waste, reducing the environmental impact significantly.
Faith still contains elements of Polyester and Elastane that we will endeavour to replace as technology and cost allow. As there is a chance of microfibres leaching when washing Faith intimates, we recommend using a Guppy Friend wash-bag to prevent microplastic pollution.
Find out more about what a Guppfriend can do for you in the video below...
We are committed to reducing our freight carbon emissions by 45% by 2025 in line with the Paris Agreement.
We are committed to being plastic free and only use compostable garment bags and post satchels.
100% of our orders were shipped by sea freight in Q4 2020
Sea Freight by comparison to Air Freight is thought to create around 44x less CO2,
which is why moving to sea freight is an important climate action goal 🚢
It’s not exactly news that we switched to plastic-free packaging back in 2017.
But it’s always important to review the impact that this has made on our environment.
We now use the world’s most sustainable packaging solutions that consider the complete lifecycle impact of a product from raw material sourcing, right through to end-of-life disposal.
Made from renewable plants, with production of the bags and satchels being partially carbon neutral with some wind and renewable energy used, our packaging will completely degrade in the natural world under compost conditions. Ultimately this generates carbon dioxide and water and does not pollute the environment.
Compostable bags used/plastic bags saved for the quarter. 10,302 Post Satchels + 15,695 Garment Satchels = 25,997 PLASTIC BAGS SAVED.