At Outland Denim we acknowledge that the use of cotton and dyes in the process of jean manufacturing results in a myriad of environmental impacts. We are attempting to reduce the impact of our denim by sourcing it from a Turkish mill called Bossa, which aims to improve the sustainability of cotton growing and manufacturing.
Bossa has been actively involved in environmental and ethical issues since its inception in 1951, implementing a wide range of projects to further cement its place in the sustainable and ethical fashion industry. After travelling to Turkey to see Bossa’s factories firsthand, and learning of the company’s passion for environmentally and ethically sound denim, we are excited to be able to work with Bossa.
Organic cotton has proven to use 20-25 per cent less water than conventional cotton, and since competition for natural resources is a significant problem in many of the less developed countries where cotton is grown, Outland Denim aims to utilise organic cotton in all denim sourced from Bossa.
Bossa is involved in the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), which aims to increase the sustainability of cotton production through reducing the negative environmental and social impacts of cotton. It abides by the Global Organic Textile Standard and has a variety of ISO certifications. Through sourcing from BCI, Bossa is reducing its environmental impact by ensuring that farmers are using the best practices in regards to water, fertilisers, chemicals and other resources.
Additionally, Bossa has undertaken multiple research and development projects in order to better understand and reduce environmental impacts. Some of these include: design of a waste recovery system for a spinning mill; utilisation of natural dyes; development of recycled cotton in blended denims; as well as undertaking studies on their carbon dioxide emissions and reduction measures.
The use of toxic synthetic indigo dye poses a major threat to environmental and human health near manufacturing facilities. Outland Denim addresses this issue by using natural indigo dyes derived from a plant species called Indigofera. Use of natural vegetable dyes means that workers are exposed to less toxic chemicals and the likelihood or severity of water pollution is reduced, leading to an overall increase in the sustainability of our jeans.
The mining of metal for uses in zippers and studs for jeans can cause a multitude of environmental impacts that are felt for generations. Outland Denim is reducing its impact by using YKK as a supplier of zippers. YKK tries to reduce its environmental impact by creating zips from recycled materials. It is part of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Initiative (ZDHC), which aims to reduce usage of hazardous chemicals and their discharge into the environment, and won the Biodiversity Protection Award in 2014 for environmental stewardship. Social stewardship is also demonstrated by YKK through the provision of: vocational training and educational support for young people; a childcare centre for utilisation by their Bangladeshi workers; free health examinations for employees and their communities; and equal opportunity for all employees.
BUTTONS & RIVETS
Coats is Outland Denim’s supplier of thread, and invests much time and money into creating socially and environmentally sustainable workplaces and communities. Coats is safeguarding environmental health by: being part of the ZDHC Initiative; reducing greenhouse gas emissions (those responsible for warming the atmosphere) by 18 per cent over the past three years; increasing usage of biofuels to replace fossil fuels; controlling effluent water in accordance with local legislation as well as their own global standards; and being ISO 14001 ‘Environmental Management Systems’ certified.
Proof of Coats’ commitment to the environment has been demonstrated by the construction of an effluent treatment plant in Sri Lanka, which will recycle up to 95 per cent of the water used during the dying process, as well as recycling plastic for use in the company’s Indian operations. Coats’ efforts in regards to environmental health have a positive flow-on effect to human health, which leads to stronger social sustainability outcomes.
Coats is helping the societies in which the company operates through providing local communities with information on personal hygiene and the importance of education; organising clean-up and tree planting days to boost morale and pride within the communities and workers; creating 120 Community Engagement Plans in 2015 to ensure local communities are involved in Coats’ decision making process (this in turn encourages trust and strengthens relationships); and working with charities to provide the less fortunate with apparel, household textiles or footwear. All of these efforts ensure that the environment, Coats’ workers and local communities are healthy, hygienic and happy.
Viet Thang Corporation is the Vietnam-based supplier of the pocket liners in Outland Denim jeans. It is a decorated company awarded with many certifications, such as the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100, ISO 9002 and ISO 14001. Oeko-Tex and ISO are both independent certification companies whose certifications are globally recognised for excellence and quality. Oeko-Tex (Swedish Chemicals Agency) certification ensures that there are no harmful, illegal or legally restricted substances being used within any stages of textile development. ISO9002 is a quality assurance certification. This means that customers can be assured that Viet Thang Corporation is adhering to the eight core quality principles that ensure companies continually improve their practices, have a strong focus on customers, and hold mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers. Environmental management is the focus of ISO14001, which pledges companies to measure and continually improve environmental impact. A site visit conducted by an Outland Denim team member has found that the facilities and practices of Viet Thang Corporation align with Outland Denim’s ethical and environmental values.
Safa Impex supply Outland Denim with tanned leather patches to be sewn onto jeans. Safa Impex use only 100% vegetable dyes in their tanning process with a complete absence of chrome. Vegetable tannins can be sourced from a variety of plants such as oak or chestnut trees. In contrast, chromium tanning involves the use of chrome, acids and other environmentally degrading substances in order to significantly reduce the tanning process from months to days. Safa Impex is working to improve environmental and social sustainability by complying with the appropriate European Chemicals Agency standards, using vegetable instead of chemical dyes, creating recyclable products and not employing child labour.
*Due to the natural tannins used in this process, vegetable tanned leathers are unique and have their own life. They change continuously in colour and fade due to wash and wear factors more so than chemically tanned leathers.
The washhouse we are partnering with in Cambodia, Tak Son, offers a separate organic washing facility, which we have been utilising for our jean washing process to ensure there is no contamination of water systems. The washhouse uses a three-step cleaning and testing process to make sure the water discarded after the wash is complete is safe and clean for the environment. Tak Son has been inspected and assessed according to the Organic Content Standard (OCS-NL) and Organic Content Standard 100, and was found to be compliant.
Print Together, who produce our stickers and cloth bags, are focused on saving the world’s virgin rainforests, home to amazing biodiversity and carbon stores, through using only post-consumer recycled paper in their products. Post-consumer waste is paper materials that have been used for one purpose, such as a juice container or workbook, that is then recycled into a new form fit for another purpose. Recycled paper is advantageous for the environment as it uses less water, raw materials, non-renewable energy and creates less harmful by-products than sourcing raw virgin fibres (Rushton 2012). In conjunction with using recycled paper, Print Together uses natural vegetable dyes on its products; this ensures there is less chemical pollution being discharged into the environment and makes re-recycling those products better as no harsh chemicals are needed to break down the inks. Therefore, Print Together is aiming to protect the world’s limited resources and rainforests by using only 100 per cent recycled paper and vegetable dyes for its products.
Rushton M (ed) 2012, ‘The Big debate’, Pulp and Paper Industry, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 13-15. Based on a panel discussion of various paper industry professionals around the sustainability of the industry.
FREIGHT & SHIPPING