It was some months ago while perusing my Facebook feed that I came across a very interesting discussion in a group.
This particular thread was started by someone questioning whether a business planning to use sustainable leather and organic cotton could call themselves a sustainable business.
There were comments on the meat and leather industries, the size, profitability, environmental and emotional impact of it. The opinions ranged all the way from concern about problems stemming from unused leather ending up in a landfill to anything leather being a complete no-no. Some agreed that the business could call themselves a sustainable business while others begged to differ.
In recent years, sustainability has become one of those buzzwords.
People love it, hate it, engage with it, embrace it, evade it. Each of us reacts to the concept of sustainability based on our personal ethics and experiences.
One of the key tenets of sustainability is the impact of the product or the business on the environment, which in itself is made up of so many components. Something that organically grown may be transported halfway across the world for manufacturing, which completely changes its sustainable impact from one stage to the other.
Here at Blue Patch, we believe that sustainability is a journey. That our member businesses are on their own journeys to discover what this means for them as people, and as a small (or large) business, and that we as a community support them in this journey without judgement.
One of the aspects of sustainability that we are particularly interested in is the circular economy. We believe that more circular economy solutions are needed to tackle problems that face us today. With huge amounts of plastic waste, surplus fabric, surplus food, by-products of various industries available, there is an increased need for technology that develops ways to process and re-utilise these by-products.
During the week up ahead, the focus of the ethical and sustainable world will be on Fashion Revolution week – a week dedicated to a campaign which attempts to bring awareness to consumers regarding the issues that face the fashion industry, encourages them to question the provenance of their clothing and to lobby for greater transparency.
As ethical consumers, it’s important to shout about the brands and designers that make brilliant products and champion sustainability. When you discover a brand you love, tell your friends about it. Tweet or post about it. Recommend it to someone. Visibility is key for the survival of makers who are making your clothes in the most ethical and sustainable way they know to, and it costs you nothing extra.
One of our favourite ethical brands making waves in the circular economy is Cornwall-based Celtic and Co, who produce beautiful clothing and footwear for men, women and children. Sustainability is important to them – they choose ethically sourced organic fabrics, with their footwear and some accessories being handmade in their own factory.
Their sheepskins are a byproduct of the meat industry. Rather than heading straight to landfill, these skins are turned into beautiful boots and slippers that are a source of warmth and comfort during chilly winters. This is the very heart of the circular economy.
Sourcing as much as possible and manufacturing in Great Britain means that their carbon footprint remains small. Most of the sheepskins come from British sheep.
They choose their supply chain carefully, putting an emphasis on quality in order to make sure that their products last as long as possible and are transparent about the natural fibres they use. Repairs are encouraged with their repair and resole service, making sure that purchases live a long and well-loved life.
What started off as a husband-and-wife business making boots has now grown into a thriving business, employing over 30 people and making high quality clothing to go along with their iconic slippers and boots.
Which are your favourite sustainable businesses? Let us know in a message or a tweet!
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