Sustainability - what exactly does it mean?
It is so important to know where our clothes come from, who makes them, and just what makes them sustainable. Eco-friendly fashion has experienced a huge growth in popularity. Which is fantastic. But what does eco-friendly and sustainable really mean when it comes to the clothes we buy?
Brands often resort to greenwashing to promote clothing lines, using phrases such as ‘conscious’, ‘green’, ‘clean’. But these have no legal definition, and brands often hide the reality of the environmental impact of their products behind some well-designed marketing.
How are these brands powering their factories? What are they doing with contaminated waste water? How are they protecting their workers?
I've worked really hard to make my business as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible. So I want to be open about where the clothing and bags I embroider come from, and who makes them. Because I’m proud of their verifiable green credentials.
From India to your wardrobe / Ón India go dtí do vardrús:
My sweatshirts and bags are made from 100% recycled materials. The cotton is organically grown in Ahmedabad in Southern India, where the farmers forgo the use of pesticides in favour of more traditional and eco-friendly methods. 95% of the water used for irrigation is supplied naturally by monsoon rainfall.
The garment factory that processes the raw materials and produces my clothing and bags is powered by renewable energy from a nearby wind farm, in Tamil Nadu. Wastewater is treated to fully remove dyes and any other pollutants. The factory is a vertically integrated facility, which means Continental Clothing have full control over each step of the supply chain. Certification by the Fair Wear Foundation means that all workers are paid a fair wage and work in safe conditions. Because clothing can’t be described as sustainable if the people who make it aren’t paid enough to sustain themselves.
When clothing patterns are cut from long sections of cloth, there is an inevitable level of waste fabric created by the cut-offs left behind. This is the cotton that is used in my clothing and bags. Cut-offs from organic cotton t-shirts from other parts of the factory are shredded and broken down into individual fibres. This is then spun into yarn and combined with recycled polyester.
The polyester is recycled locally from plastic bottles and is spun into yarn. There are 12 1.5 litre plastic bottles in each of my sweatshirts and 2.5 in each bag! Polyester often gets a bad name, but it is a light, warm, silky, and durable fabric. When it is produced from recycled materials and combined with recycled organic cotton, it becomes an environmentally friendly fabric and creates clothes that will last a lifetime.
Continental Clothing don’t ship by airfreight due to environmental concerns, so everything is shipped by sea. It arrives at my door in cardboard packaging, which I recycle.
Agus na rudaí eile:
All my packaging (including envelopes, tissue paper, stickers, etc) is biodegradable and made from recycled materials. I don’t include printed invoices/ shipping slips, as they usually just end up in the bin (If you would like an invoice, I can email one to you).
The thread I use is 100% cotton and biodegradable. I keep all the little scraps and cut-offs, and use them to attach labels etc. I only buy notebooks made from recycled paper (and I try to buy Irish where possible). The labels I sew into each item I embroider are made from recycled materials too!
All these choices, big and small, are what add up to a truly sustainable and eco-friendly brand. I’m constantly looking for ways to improve. Now that consumers are demanding more sustainable options, hopefully the big name brands will improve too.