ENVIRONMENT Ethics and Sustainability Problems, Conquer’s solutions and the part you play We believe that with the knowledge of how we all affect the chain of supply, we should demand better business practices, thus forcing all suppliers to change their business models. If we consume consciously, we and everyone else involved will benefit from better products that also don’t leave such an enormous ethical and environmental impact on the planet. “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” Sam Walton Our choices have direct consequences on health, people and the planet. Just like in the food industry, we can make lasting changes that benefit us all. This timeline below shows the impact that one t-shirt can have in its lifetime. Problem 2.4 Billion T-shirts a year are produced world-wide. Globally we now consume in excess of 24 million tons of cotton per year. This puts enormous strain on Cotton producing countries, the environment and the people that are part of this supply chain. Steve Trent, Director of Environmental Justice Foundation, says “With no less than 99 per cent of the world’s cotton farmers living in the developing world, the pesticides are applied in fields where illiteracy is high and safety awareness is low, putting both the environment and lives at risk”. He adds “The dangers faced by poor illiterate children and farmers, to keep our clothes cheap, is unacceptable”. It takes 7.5 Bathtubs of water to grow enough cotton for one t-shirt. The majority of cotton is grown in environments where water is scarce. An average of 150g of pesticide are used per t-shirt. Although banned in Europe due to their harmful effect on the water supply, they are unfortunately still commonly used to increase COTTON: Have You Picked Yours Carefully? from Environmental Justice Foundation on Vimeo. Solution We try to provide suitable and sustainable alternatives to cotton like Tencel & Bamboo that have their own benefits and positive characteristics for the consumer, as well as using alternative fibre sources with low water consumption. We also use suppliers that protect the environment in which their cotton is grown, looking to safeguard people and water supplies that are at risk of being abused. A Model Supply Chain- Lily Cole visits EJF’s climate neutral t-shirt supply chain in India from Eleanor Church on Vimeo. As well as boycotting cotton from suppliers in places like Uzbekistan, we provide an organic range that is carefully farmed in well-irrigated fields, minimising any loss. Our organic range is produced with 90 per cent Reduced CO2 It has been calculated that a single EarthPositive T-shirt saves around 7 kilograms of CO2, whereas a hooded sweatshirt saves up to 28 kgs of greenhouse gases. These are actual reductions achieved in the farming, manufacturing and transport, without any carbon offsetting. Your Part 75 per cent of the energy used in the lifetime of a T-shirt is used in its laundering. Many Laundering detergents and perfumed fabric softeners are toxic and don’t get completely removed by the sewage filtration process. Have you looked at non toxic detergents such as Ecover? alternatively you can save huge amounts each year by making your own detergent. Domestic borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate) is a mild alkali and comes in the form of a white powder resembling bicarbonate of soda. Stronger than bicarb, it is versatile and effective and it fulfils many of the same functions. It can be used as an all-round cleaner. It is useful for removing grease and stains. It can be used as a fabric and water softener, and as a bleach and a disinfectant. It absorbs and controls odours. Unlike bicarb, however, it is toxic – only mildly so, but it should not be ingested. • WHERE TO BUY Borax can be difficult to track down. Because it is unbranded, Shop assistants may not have heard of it. Smaller independent pharmacies are your best bet. Boots sometimes also sells borax, it is stocked in the household care section. Online, you can find borax at Greenshop (www.greenshop.co.uk). It costs £3.50 for 500g. In the UK we put 1.2 Tonnes of textiles in landfill per year, only 16% is currently reused or recycled. Upcycling or recycling don’t just create income for charities, they save you money on your wardrobe. They also cut the raw materials we use per year, taking the strain off an industry growing exponentially every year to meet our demands.