How to be ethical as a small, independent business?
I wouldn’t know any other way than to live my life like this. I always try to leave as minimum waste, I mostly buy second-hand clothing and have been eating vegetarian for years.. All these habits are common sense to me and are the foundation on how I run my business. It’s impossible for me to run a 100% sustainable brand at the moment, but why not aim for it?
A few things we do in attempt to keep the world tolerable.
- Buy ready-made products of companies that are sustainable and have trademarks to prove it. Such as Earth Positive and Salvage. These two brands are leading the industry with making products that are the most comfortable, have a great fit and are made from organic/recycled materials during an ethical production.
- Reduce waste. Our scrap material and leftover ink are used for our small patches. After a run of prints there’s always a bit of ink left, as our ink is mixed per batch we can’t put this back in the pot. By always having off-cuts of fabric left that are too small to make a product out of both goods can still be used.
- Water-based ink. Our screen-printer, Dan at Broadside Screen-printing in Exeter, knows how to minimise his carbon footprint. Screen-printing is a pretty wasteful profession, but by using water-based inks instead of plastisol you can make a difference.
- Using sustainable and, or durable fabrics. This sounds like an obvious solution, but isn’t always easy to do. When you run a small company your orders aren’t huge and you probably won’t be able to buy from wholesalers. Most small fabric shops don’t sell organic materials and the ones that do charge you double for it. If sustainable fabrics aren’t in your reach then you can always try and find the most durable fabrics. These might not be the best for the environment, but if this product last their owner for a long time then it’s still better than a lot of products out there.
- Produce in house or local. Try and do it yourself (diy), this will leave a way smaller carbon footprint behind, there’s less waste, less transportation and you’re on top of things.. If production does get too much then try and find a local factory. Chat to them about how the factory is being run, how much staff get’s paid and what their rights are. This is of course a bit of an awkward conversation, but if the people you’re dealing with mean well than they won’t have any problem sharing this information with you.
There are of course many more ways of being ethical and it would be great if you could share them.