Eco-friendly vs Sustainable
To reduce the impact fashion is having on our planet the industry needs to make huge shifts in the way our clothes are made and what they are made from.
Thankfully though, there are many small businesses and growing brands working hard to provide consumers with alternative, more considered options. Clothing that has a lower impact, and socks that help reduce your footprint.
To help these conscious collections stand out from the fast-fashion juggernauts new ‘green’ terms are being used – like eco-friendly and sustainable.
But what do these terms mean?
Being either ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘sustainable’ is not something that is certifiable – there is no equivalent of a Fair Trade or Organic stamp that can be used to confirm a company’s statements. But used appropriately these terms can help inform consumers about a brand’s practices and values.
A product that is truly eco-friendly has been designed to do the least possible damage to the environment. Some or all of the materials and methods used to make it have a lower impact on the planet than other available options. For example, they may be truly biodegradable or require less energy to produce compared to a like for like item – consider, a plastic toothbrush vs a bamboo toothbrush, or a cotton shirt vs an organic cotton t-shirt.
But being sustainable goes beyond that. Sustainable brands should recognise their social, ethical and environmental responsibilities. They must analyse the entire lifecycle of the product and how it is handled, and not just how it is designed and made. They should minimise their impact on the environment – ensuring efficient and careful use of natural resources and implementing repair, reuse and recycling schemes. But they should also be improving working conditions and informing consumers of how best to care for their products to ensure a long lifespan.
To determine whether a company is truly sustainable you may want to ask - were the best available practices used at each stage of production? Was it shipped in recycled or reusable packaging? Does it have longevity? Can it be repurposed? Were workers paid fairly and their work environments safe?
At Teddy Locks we are making decisions based on the best options available to us at this time.
The very first decision we made when developing Teddy Locks was where our socks were going to be produced. There are factories across the globe that are working to incredibly high standards – but they are not necessarily within reach of a yarn supplier or dye house or finisher. Some supply chains require fiber from Europe to be spun in Asia and then sent back to Europe to be knit. But we wanted Teddy Locks socks to have a low carbon footprint from the get-go.
So, after months of research and meetings our Teddy Locks supply chain was finalised - our socks would be made in North Carolina, USA. This decision means that our fibers are blended and spun in to yarn in NC, dyed in NC, before being knit in to our socks and finished in NC – so that from source to sock Teddy Locks socks travel less than 250miles during production.
On top of the benefits of lower shipping emissions, having our entire supply chain in North Carolina also means that we can visit the facilities and meet the people working there. This allows us to better monitor the well-being of the staff and the efficiency of the facilities, while being transparent about where our materials come from and supporting US manufacturing.
Each of our suppliers has been chosen based on their existing strengths. Our spinning mill, dye-house, knitting mill and finisher are all family run, local businesses, we know many of the team members personally and see the efforts they go to in running efficient and conscious operations. What’s more, they make decisions that while being economically beneficial ultimately benefit the environment – for example they reuse shipping crates, only run machines when needed and implement minimums to reduce waste.
On top of visiting our suppliers, we also ask them to sign and agree to our Code of Conduct – which is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and our own company values.
The materials we use are also sustainable. There are many that want all synthetics to be banned – and we love this vision; but given that only 9% of all plastic bottles ever made have been recycled, and that there is increasing pressure on raw natural resources, we have chosen to prioritise materials that are already in circulation.
But it’s not just our materials and supply chain that make our socks better for the planet. We are striving to be sustainable throughout. That’s why all of our packaging is made from recycled materials and is recyclable, we bank with a local B Corp and not a big corporation and create our socks as collections – not pairs.
We also know that our responsibility doesn’t end once our products are shipped. That’s why we are using profits to support organisations working to reduce global waste and are donating samples and ‘seconds’ to shelters and children’s centers.
We want to have a positive effect on the planet and people, which is why Teddy Locks socks are both eco-friendly and sustainable.