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Embracing Environmental Sustainability

Embracing Environmental Sustainability

Promoting a Journey Towards Conscious Choices

May 1st, marks the beginning of Organic Week in New Zealand, a celebration of organic agriculture designed at showcasing and promoting how organic agriculture is part of the solution to our biodiversity crisis.

A recent conversation with one of our retail customers in Dunedin, along with the image below shared by Waste Free Planet, inspired me to share a little more of our journey as we navigate an industry that is wreaking havoc on our planet.  

 

 Posted by Waste Free Planet 16/04/2024

Since the late 1990s, polyester has surpassed cotton as the fibre most commonly used in textiles

Shocking statistics reveal that a staggering two thirds of the world's textile industry relies on man-made fibres derived from petrochemicals, perpetuating a cycle of environmental degradation.

Global consumption of synthetic fibres increased from a few thousand tonnes in 1940 to more than 60 million tonnes in 2018, and it continues to rise. Since the late 1990s, polyester has surpassed cotton as the fibre most commonly used in textiles. (Source below).

With Sequins, Glitter and Spandex taking an estimated 1000 years to break down, and synthetic materials contributing to a staggering 200,000 to 500,000 tonnes of microplastics released into our environment annually, it's a wake-up call for us all to be mindful of the consequences of our actions. 

That said, there is some great work being done overseas in this space with regards to recycling of textiles and plastic waste for diversion into textile manufacturing, although it is still very early days. An interesting resource to find out more is CommonObjective.co 

Our journey towards sustainability isn't just lip service – it's a genuine commitment to making a difference.

While we are not self-proclaimed eco-warriors, we are driven by a deep-seated commitment to Environmental Sustainability as one of our core values alongside Superior Functionality, Contemporary Design, and Game Changers.

Using only GOTs Certified Organic Cotton was a decision we made from the start. As despite cotton being a natural resource, the environmental gulf between GOTs and standard produced cotton is vast. You can read more about this in our post The Organic Difference 

New product labels:

Something as seemingly innocuous as a pesky product label has probably thrown up our greatest challenge to date. Labels are typically made from polyester, as it offers both longevity, better branding opportunities, greater colour options, as well as being more cost effective to produce.

We have worked long and hard with our manufacturers to produce an acceptable alternative to the polyester industry standard. It has taken several iterations over the past few years and while it is not perfect as the information will fade out with use because they're printed not embroidered, it was the only decision to make when we applied it back to our Environmental Sustainability value.  

 

Earlier this year, we attended the Heim Textile trade event in Germany to deepen our understanding of the textile industry's developments and the initiatives underway to reverse the damage wrought by synthetic fibres.

We also started the journey of looking into using recycled cotton. And while there are many positive aspects to recycled cotton, these were quickly outweighed by negative aspects such as inferior quality from shorter fibres, the question of pre-or post-consumer waste, the chemical processed used, the restrictions of acceptable percentages used (<30%) to minimise quality impact, the risk of pilling given shorter fibres and so on.

The reality is it's a very complex and convoluted journey with many 'smoke and mirrors' claims to navigate. In short, it sounds better than it appears, so we have a lot more work to do before taking this path.  

I’m the first to admit we’re not perfect. But slowly I'm personally weaning out synthetic fibres where I can. It’s impossible to do away with them completely – jeans and sports gear are classic examples. But it's about shifting the balance where you can.

If you're looking at ways to eliminate synthetic textiles from your home, consider these natural fiber alternatives next time you're needing to purchase them;

  • Bedding: Swap synthetic bedding materials like polyester for organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, or linen sheets, pillowcases, and duvet covers for a more breathable and eco-friendly sleep environment.
  • Towels: Replace synthetic microfiber towels and dishcloths with organic cotton or bamboo towels in the bathroom and kitchen. These natural fibers are absorbent, durable, and biodegradable.
  • Clothing: Opt for clothing made from natural fibers such as organic cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo, or wool instead of synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, or acrylic. Natural fibers are more breathable, comfortable, and biodegradable.
  • Rugs and Carpets: Choose rugs and carpets made from natural fibers such as wool, jute, sisal, or seagrass instead of synthetic materials like nylon or polyester. 
  • Cleaning Supplies: Use natural fiber cleaning cloths, brushes, and mops made from materials like cotton, bamboo, or coconut coir instead of synthetic sponges or microfiber cloths. These alternatives are more sustainable and can be composted at the end of their lifespan.
  • Furniture Upholstery: Choose furniture upholstered with natural fabrics like cotton, linen, hemp, or wool instead of synthetic materials. Natural fiber upholstery is more breathable, durable, and environmentally friendly.

By gradually replacing these household products with natural fiber alternatives, we can reduce our reliance on synthetic materials and contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle.

Together, we can make a difference – one conscious choice at a time.

 

Photo credit: Photo by Andrik Langfield 
1 Source https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/plastic-in-textiles-towards-a/file

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