Climate & Sustainability
This shop runs on the platform Shopify, who for businesses, like this one, that have chosen to opt in, have enabled us to sign up and be actively billed in order to reduce and offset our carbon footprint and also, more importantly, fund carbon removal solutions.
Shopify have three different pricing tiers and this shop is on the highest impact one. This means that a small fee from every single order gets put towards:
Carbon neutral shipping
Investing in the removal of atmospheric carbon
Investing in carbon storage for 1000+ years
Investing in solutions like ocean-based removal and direct air capture
I genuinely think this is the least that could be done by online retailers amongst the current crisis we face and I'm just making an effort to publicise our actions in order to encourage other shops to adopt the same practices, and to make it the minimum that consumers come to expect.
Although the contributions from this little shop will be very small, with funding coming in from thousands of other online shops, Shopify funds as a whole do have the financial sway to make a real difference through the projects they choose to back.
Carbon offsetting in particular is not a perfect solution and comes with it's fair share of criticism, mainly as it does nothing to curb emissions generated in the first place and many specific investment schemes, particularly in the US, have been ineffective (often funding an area that didn't need saving) or had their true impact miscalculated. Nevertheless, I do believe, especially when done right, it is one of many steps in the right direction.
You can read all about what projects the Shopify Climate Sustainability Fund is currently supporting at this link here: https://www.shopify.com/climate/sustainability-fund
Neo pigment, water-based inks are 100% non-hazardous, toxin-free and vegan friendly. They meet the strictest industry standards as defined by Oeko-Tex 100 safety applications for infant wear, Global Organic Textiles (GTOTS-3V), Residues Standard List (RSL) and the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists.
Eco solvent inks derive from ether extracts taken from refined mineral oil. While they still contain harmful solvents, they have a lower VOC content than standard solvent inks and are significantly less hazardous.
Sustainably Sourced Paper & Wood
Shipping over long distances is not only very expensive but these prints can be very large and thus their carbon footprint is often bigger than most things consumers might order online.
Sustainable Business Practices
When creating a clothing brand I was incredibly conscious about making sure that not only was the quality of the actual garment as high as I could possibly make it, but that it was also manufactured in a sustainable fashion - benefiting both the climate and more importantly the people involved.
We still have a long way to go, nothing is perfect, but that is the goal, and for now accountability and transparency are absolutely crucial.
The original garments are manufactured by Stanley Stella in Bangladesh and the C'mere to me designs are printed and shipped from Germany.
This quote from Stanley Stella CEO, Jean Chabert, sums up their position: “Sustainability is not a buzz-word. From day one it has been our entire philosophy”
- Stanley Stella Sustainability Report 2020
- Stanley Stella Social Report 2019
One big thing that I learnt was the stark difference between organic cotton and conventional cotton.
Conventional crops refer to those crops, including cotton, that are grown with the assistance of synthetic agrichemicals (including fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, defoliants). Most of the cotton grown around the world is grown 'conventionally'.
Cotton production accounts for 16% of global insecticide use – more than any other single crop – a fact which has led to cotton be called the world’s ‘dirtiest’ agricultural commodity.
Therefore organic cotton is grown without harmful chemicals or GM Seeds, leaving the soil, air and water free from contaminates. Healthy soil can also store much more water, as much as 3,750 tonnes per hectare. Organic farmers use organic matter, such as farmyard manure and compost, to enrich and build their soils. They also use beneficial insects to control unwanted pests, thus encouraging biodiversity, a win-win. 🌏
However, water consumption is an even bigger issue surrounding conventional cotton, it takes a stomach turning 2,700 litres of water to make just 1 conventional cotton t-shirt... that's enough for someone to drink for 900 days.
The growing of cotton makes up 69% of the water footprint of textile fibre production worldwide, with 1 kilogram of cotton taking up to 20,000 litres of water to produce 🤯
Organic cotton uses 91% less water to grow, since farmers typically utilize rain far more than irrigation, about 250 litres by comparison for one t-shirt.
Despite the fact that 71% of our planet is covered in water, 97% of it is salty, and of the 3% that is fresh water more than 2/3 of it is snow & ice, thus less than 1% of the earths water is actually available to use & drink.
Conventional cotton tends to be grown in arid areas that require irrigation with water from surface or groundwater sources (blue water), rather than relying on rain water alone (green water). Irrigation diverts water away from rivers, lakes and aquifers, often with devastating impacts on local ecosystems and communities. Demand for irrigated water is likely to increase as temperatures rise and as water becomes more scarce, irrigation will become more expensive, as more energy will be required to pump water to where it is required.
Cotton is not only a thirsty crop to grow but the dyeing and the processing/cleaning/bleaching of textiles, can require as much as 200 tonnes of water for every tonne of textiles produced. The sustained extraction of water for textile processing is causing long-term decline in groundwater levels, which has wide ranging environmental, social and economic effects including: the drying of wetlands and the loss of plant and wildlife species; decreased access to drinking water for local communities; decreased access to water for food production; and higher pumping costs to communities and businesses.
Not only are huge quantities of water used but during the cleaning process, residues from pesticides, used to grow conventional cotton, are washed from the raw fibre and end up in the waterways. Even with the most effective water treatment methods, not all residue is removed and this results in the pollution of ground and surface water, which is relied on for drinking and food production. 🚱 This pollution also ends up in rivers and eventually oceans too. Heavy metals, such as mercury, chromium, arsenic and copper which are present in some dyes, are highly toxic and carcinogenic. Even in very small quantities (<1ppm) Azo dyes in water have been found to alter the physical and chemical properties of soil, killing beneficial microorganisms and affecting agricultural productivity. They are also toxic to aquatic flora and fauna.
With hundreds of millions of people working in cotton production there is also a massive social impact. 👩🏽🤝👩🏻 Organic cotton is more regulated and with that it is much more fairly traded. Organisations such as FairWear take things a step further regarding certification and monitoring of fair wages & working conditions, but switching to organic cotton is a step in the right direction as is.
The chemicals used in the production of conventional cotton not only affect our environment, but every year organisations estimate that thousands of people exposed to them while working die of cancers and poisoning. They also suffer from infertility, miscarriages, birth defects and from other conditions such as asthma. It's not uncommon that non-organic cotton can cause skin irritations from the consumer just wearing garments, particularly in babies.
Lastly, energy consumption 💡. The production of Organic cotton produces around 46% less CO2 emissions compared to conventional cotton. 📉
The global warming potential (GWP) of conventionally produced cotton has been calculated to be 1,808kg of CO2e per 1 tonne of cotton fibre, but just 978kg of CO2e per tonne of organic cotton. The significant reduction compared to non-organic cotton production is attributed to the lower inputs required by organic farming, particularly manufactured fertiliser, pesticides and irrigation.
Conventional cotton requires 15,000 Mj per tonne of cotton fibre, of which fertiliser production accounts for 37% (followed by post-harvest operations, irrigation and machinery). In contrast, organic cotton has a primary energy demand of approximately 5,800 Mj per tonne. Again this can be attributed to the absence of manufactured fertilisers which, being derived from petrochemicals, carry a high primary energy demand.
The acidification potential of organic cotton was calculated at 5.7kg of SO2e (sulphur dioxide equivalent) per tonne. This is compared to 18.7kg of SO2e per tonne of conventional cotton.