I always write about other companies, breaking down their environmental policies, what exactly it means, and how they could improve. But what I haven't talked about is how I apply sustainable practices within my own business. As someone who is still learning everyday, I try to take every aspect of my business to be as sustainable as I humanly can. I launched my blog in March 2019, and after expanding my knowledge on climate change and sustainable practices within the fashion industry I figured why not put it all together and put myself to the test and sell my own products. In October 2020 I launched my online shop which included hand painted denim jackets and zero waste scrunchies.
I played with the idea of an online shop when Covid-19 first hit and I lost my job. I figured there is no better time to introduce my own product offering than now. I graduated FIT with a business degree but always had a creative side that I wanted to embrace. Pairing that with a traditional American wardrobe staple - a denim jacket seemed like a no brainer. If constructed well, a denim jacket can last for generations and generations.
At the end of the day there is always going to be an environmental footprint, nothing is free, but you can try to make the best decisions for your business and the environment that has the least amount of impact. And while there is a lot of developing technology, there still isn't one clear solution to the environmental and ethical problems we are facing. So yes, there is an array of solutions but I believe that transparency is key. Unfortunately, transparency is also what most brands lack - where the fiber was grown or created, where the fabric assembled, then dyed or printed, where the trims came from, the environmental footprint, where is was sewn, who made it, are regulations being followed, are workers being paid and treated fairly, are workers protected, paid a fair wage, how the company is taking responsibility for the end life of their products they are selling... I could go on forever but you get my point by now. How are they helping the environment, are they making any attempts to counteract their footprint?
So today I want to be 100% transparent with you - give you all the information I know and what exactly goes in and goes out of my brand and products. And where I can make changes to be better.
I purchase all my jackets through second hand shops. I aim to buy 100% cotton so it is a natural fiber and will biodegrade much quicker than a synthetic. Buuuuut, not all jackets sold second hand have content labels - so I do my best but am not perfect. I choose denim jackets for my first product launch because it's something that can be unique enough to make a statement outfit or on the flip side a classic either way it could be something you'd want to hold onto forever and potentially pass down to future generations.
I'm giving something another life instead of being shipped overseas where often most of our clothing donations get sent. I'm not making anything "new" I'm taking resources that already exist as well as supporting small business by buying jackets secondhand.
There is a lack of history where the jacket came from, how many hands it has touched before mine, and how ethically it may or may not have been made. There is no information on the types of dyes, finishes, water usage, trims, etc.
To reduce the amount of inventory, I have switched to making my design digitally. This allows you to choose which kind of style, fit, and color you'd like the design to be on. Because denim jackets are widely available it's not hard to find jackets in different colors, sizes, and styles. There will be no need for excess and everything will be made to order. More efficient for now as my orders are manageable enough to run my business this way.
I chose Arteza Acrylic paint to use.
Arteza creates non-toxic acrylic paints, and are made in the US. Arteza is also a part of the one tree planted program, with a goal to plant 10,000 trees (it is unclear on their site if they have reached their goal or how far along they are.) The good thing about non toxic paint is that if the denim jacket ever gets discarded, the acrylic paint should not have a negative effect on the soil.
I did buy this particular paint set on Amazon, which I try not to support because well if ya know ya know and if you don't - a quick google search will tell you that Amazon isn't doing much to help the environment, or it's workers. Another downside to these paints is that they come in plastic. But for its lifespan it probably is the best for what is out there right now in my opinion. The next best alternative would be recycled plastic or plant based plastic which still needs to be dropped off in a special facility in order to biodegrade properly.
Continue to explore other options - such as printing designs, or finding a local art store to buy paint from, or buy in bulk the colors I use the most (black, white, primary colors). I will continue to use up what I have before making next steps to switch things up.
I used personal fabric scraps + scraps from previous jobs that would of been discarded.
I made something new out of "trash". When I asked what to do with scraps - my boss said to throw them out, we didn't need them any longer. I originally took a couple and made little bandanas for my dog. As my fabric pile grew and grew I knew something would come up that I could use them for. Before I knew it I was goggling how to make scrunchies.
The content of the fabrics range from cotton, cotton poly blends, 100% poly, to even some recycled poly blends.
Come up with a recycling or take back program. I'm also looking into other alternatives that I can make with my scrap fabric. TBD!
I used elastic from FabScrap.
I'm reusing something that already exists and not buying anything "new".
Elastic is not biodegradable.
I have looked into a biodegradable elastic which seems pretty awesome and affordable. As of right now I'm still deciding if I will release more scrunchies. If I do I will probably hop onto the biodegradable elastic route.
I use 100% compostable mailers for my jackets and scrunchies.
It has to be dropped off in an industrial composting facility in order to biodegrade efficiently. The elements in a landfill are not efficient enough to biodegrade properly.
Think outside the box! Look into alternatives that can be reused or recycled more efficiently, create a "take back" program where mailers can be reused and I can drop off to a composting facility. Provide information to customers of where to compost their mailer.
I ship all packages through the United States Postal Service.
Supporting USPS plus local shipping company who works with USPS.
It still has an environmental (carbon) footprint.
Look into a way to offset carbon footprint. I recently bought products from Krave Beauty and there was a carbon offset shipping option.
I am constantly trying to think outside the box of how I can grow my business in ways that stay true to my beliefs and still align with my purpose. My goal is to become successful, not just "rich", but with that being said... I would like to quit my day job one day ;). I have a lot of ideas and am constantly working through them to see which ones are right for now and which ones I need to table for the future. Growing and maintaining a sustainable business is not easy - which is why I believe so many companies take the easy road which more times than not isn't really sustainable at all.
From clothing swaps, to having a small clothing pop up shop, new product offerings, workshops, to potential collaborations with other small environmentally conscious businesses - some or all could be in the future!
I'd love to know what you'd be most interested in. :)
Comment below or message me directly.