From the very beginning, and I mean before the business name was registered – in fact before I even decided on the name 'Earthie' – I knew that sustainability was going to be a key focus for the brand. I was learning more and more about the dark side of the fashion industry – in particular the consequences of 'fast fashion' – and I knew I wanted to create a brand that moved in the opposite direction, with all aspects of the business striving to be part of a positive movement to more thoughtful, sustainable fashion.
It is our goal to not only create a positive community around Earthie, but also to analyse each aspect of the business to consider the environmental and ethical impact. Here are five ways in which Earthie strives to be a sustainable brand:
1) All the garments we source are certified by the Fair Wear Foundation to be ethically made
The Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) is a non-profit organisation that works with brands, manufacturers and governments to improve conditions for those working in the garment production industry, empowering safe and fair employment.
All of our garments come from manufacturers who are recognised members of the Fair Wear Foundation. To become a member, independent audits conducted by FWF must find all the business practices and supply chains of a manufacturing company to be compliant with the Code of Labour Practices.
You can find an overview of the Code in this blog post that I previously wrote.
We value the fair treatment of people, and so it is imperative to us that any garment we source is ethically made. We will not compromise this value for the sake of sourcing cheaper items to increase our profit margin.
2) Our garments are 100% organic cotton
All Earthie garments are 100% organic cotton, with Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification. The GOTS Standard is recognised world-wide and ensures both environmentally and socially responsible practices govern the whole process of producing organic textiles, including growing, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, trading and distribution.
You can find out more about the impact of this certification, along with other certifications of the garments we source and what it all means, but the main reasons why choosing organic cotton is important to us are:
- Organic cotton crops have a lower environmental impact as they are free from the use of toxic pesticides, fertilisers and Genetically Modified Organisms – we don't want these nasties being introduced to natural eco-systems for the sake of making our clothes!
- Workers involved in growing and manufacturing organic textiles are protected from having to use or be exposed to poisonous chemicals that can seriously harm their health.
- Added bonus: it feels NICE :) People are constantly commenting on how soft and comfortable our shirts are!
We are hoping in the future to be able to expand our product line to include other sustainable materials such as hemp.
3) Attention to the finer details – compostable postage bags and 100% post-consumer recycled cardboard for the swing tags
Our environmental focus doesn't stop at the products themselves – what is the impact of how they're presented, and how they're delivered? You can imagine my excitement when I discovered COMPOSTABLE postage bags from The Better Packaging Co., who state that their mission "is to find 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."
First of all you can extend the life of the bag you receive your Earthie shirt in by reusing it to send another item. Secondly the postage bags we use from The Better Packaging Co.'s comPOST range are made from 100% biodegradable and compostable materials, so at the end of their life these bags can be put in your home compost and will break down in a totally non-toxic process! So much better than traditional plastic alternatives.
In a time when it’s very easy to get caught up in all the negativity surrounding climate change you hear in the news, it’s really inspiring to see people and businesses making positive, innovative changes for the future of our environment.
We also pay attention to small presentation details like the swing tags of our shirts, which we create using 100% post-consumer recycled cardboard. Post-consumer recycled cardboard is made from paper and cardboard products that have reached the end of their life. The materials are diverted from landfill and instead repurposed for another use. As well as decreasing waste going to landfill, choosing to use this material reduces the need for new, raw materials to be used.
4) We screen print in-house using water based inks
We individually screen print each Earthie garment by hand in-house, which means this is another component of our brand which we can ensure supports fair work practice. It also means we have a better understanding of the process for this element of our business.
We print with Permaset Aqua's water based screen printing inks, which unlike traditional plastisol inks do not contain toxic chemicals. The inks we use are free from PVC and phthalates which means they're safer to work with and better for the environment. They also can be cleaned from the screens after use with just water, rather than having to use chemical solvents.
Permaset's website states that "Permaset Aqua inks do not contain ozone-depleting chemicals such as CFC’s and HCFC’s, aromatic hydrocarbons or any volatile solvents. They don’t contain lead or any heavy metals. In fact, Permaset Aqua inks do not contain any toxic chemicals at all! Not even white spirits like other water based inks on the market. It passed the Oekotex Class 1 standard (with 60% to spare!) and is safe to use on underwear, swimwear and even baby clothes."
Furthermore, Permaset dedicate a page on their website dedicated to sustainability, which outlines their commitment to continually improving upon their environmental impact.
When we are doing a print run, there is a filtration set up in place where we wash off equipment after use, so even though we are using eco-friendly inks, they still aren't just being washed down the drain.
5) We support environmental foundations
We donate $1 from each shirt sold to either Sea Shepherd Australia or the Australian Conservation Foundation, two organisations that are working towards a better future for this planet.
These are some of the main ways in which we strive to create a sustainable brand with Earthie, but we will not stop here. As the brand evolves and grows we will continuously be looking at other ways in which we can have a positive impact on the environment and the community.