When it comes to choosing when and where to buy clothes the choice is endless. For the climate conscious person, the first question you should always ask is do I actually need this? Avoiding the carbon footprint associated with manufacture and transport is always the best strategy. Borrowing from a friend or giving your wardrobe a shakedown and re-visiting that item you have only worn once may mean your wallet is a little heavier and you impact on the climate is a little lighter. Win-win.
Another avenue to explore before hitting the (virtual) highstreet is can you rent what you are thinking of buying? We do not think twice about renting our ski boots – but did you know you can rent your outerwear? Companies such as Crevasse Clothing offer this service providing another option to reduce your impact on the environment.
There will be occasions where you find the answer to these questions is ‘no’. Then it is time to think about where to buy. POW UK’s ‘Shop Smart’ series profiles equipment and clothing brands in the outdoor and snowsports industries to give you further insight into their environmental and sustainability credentials.
Teemill is a clothing manufacturer with a difference.
Martin and Rob Drake-Knight, brothers, from the from the Isle of White, started the company Rapanui in a shed in 2009. Sustainability has always been at the company’s core. Using natural materials and powered by renewable energy, their clothing is designed so that all the materials can be recovered. You can pop your old t-shirt or hoodie in the post back to them for free, when you are done with it, and they will recover the materials and use them again, sweet right! That is a circular supply chain in action.
Making technology work for them and the planet, they only make what is needed. You place an order and they make it there and then. What does Rapanui have to do with Teemill, I hear you ask? Well having demonstrated that fashion can be done differently Rapanui wanted to make their supply chain and technology available to the world. So they developed a platform called Teemill to do just that, manufacturing sustainable clothes for other brands.
Teemill only use organic cotton that is certified under the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). This is a leading worldwide processing standard for organic fibres which also takes into consideration environmental and social criteria.
Using organic cotton is not just important from an environmental perspective (including issues like water scarcity, pesticides and soil degradation) but is is also important from a climate perspective. There is evidence that shows that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with organic cotton are almost half of that of non-organic cotton.
Manufacturing operations and supply chain are powered with renewable energy to ensure zero carbon emissions. Energy from wind and solar is used for their factory in India and solar is used in the UK.
Social responsibility is paid more than lip service at Teemill. Their factory is independently audited to ensure that staff are treated well under the social certification standard for factories and organisations SA8000
Products are only made in real time – in the seconds after they are ordered so there is no waste inventory.
No plastic or synthetic materials are used for packaging their products. Their rip- and splash-proof mailer bag made out of reusable and biodegradable paper.
Their labels make sure you know exactly what you are getting and help to ensure that consumers like you use their power to purchase products that they know have less impact on the climate.
So there are lots of different reasons to feel good about that purchase, if indeed it is required. Teemill proves that business can be done differently and make a positive impact on the plant and people.
Teemill view their manufacturing process holistically as a circular process to maximize sustainability and minimize impact on the environment and climate. Here’s how they put this into action:
- Cotton is grown using organic fertilisers, irrigated through rainwater harvesting and protected by insect traps, not chemicals.
- Harvested cotton is transported to mills to separate raw materials, and spin the cotton fibres into useful material.
- The by-products from this process are made into vegetable oil and seed cakes that are used to feed cattle. This creates extra value and returns nutrients to the land.
- Contaminated water from textile production can be a huge problem. To combat this Teemill’s factories recover, clean and recirculate processed water. Any discharge from the factory is good enough to drink.
- Renewable energy is used to power the plant where garments are cut and sewn, displacing fossil use and eliminating carbon emissions from this process.
- Once your product is worn out or you no longer want to wear it, scan the code in the wash-care label to generate a free post label. Send the garment back to Teemill and earn £5 credit towards your next purchase. This keeps the valuable materials in circulation rather than losing them to landfill.
You can support circular fashion via our POW UK merchandise, or Teemill’s own brand, Rapanui. It may seem like a small gesture but if everyone made an informed evaluation before clicking the ‘add to basket’, collectively the impact would be felt.
If you want to learn a bit more about the circular economy, check out our POW UK blog.