Our Environmental Commitment
When the three of us (Ivy, Karmen, and I, Shannon) went into business together, we agreed that if environmental waste was the inevitable “cost of doing business”, then we didn’t want to be in business. We don’t believe that’s true though, and we make environmental sustainability a prime factor in every business decision.
I’d like to share some of those decisions with you.
We do not use plastic. We use paper bags, paper envelopes, or wrapping paper. Plastic, believe it or not, isn’t needed. We launder our fabric before working with it, and all workers wash their hands before touching fabric, every time. Fabric and finished product is transported in clean, reusable pouches or bins.
One exception to this rule is when we attend an in-person event and sell masks there. In that case, masks are packaged in reusable ziploc bags, so that they’ll be visible to customers and also safe from moist breathing. We’ve attended two such events, but have no plans to attend future ones.
Our materials are transported to our contractors from our distribution center in Quadra Village, and are returned as finished products. To minimize the environmental impact of transportation, we use bicycle couriers (Nomad X) for all internal deliveries. The bicycle couriers are also available as a delivery option for our customers.
We generate a fair amount of off-cut material through our manufacturing. Since all cutting is done at our distribution center, we have a bin to separate fabric off-cuts from paper and plastic waste. Since all of the material we use is 100% cotton, it is very easy to recycle. One of our contractors reuses the scraps to make trivets, and other makers use them to make quilts. The remaining scraps, too tiny to use, are compostable.
The filters that we provide for our masks are, by legal and practical necessity, disposable and made of polyester. However, they come in sheets which allow three adult-size and one child-size filter per sheet. The remainders are used around the office for order labels, wipes, and any other purpose we can think of.
Buying local –
Whenever possible, we buy our materials from local companies. We continuously look for new Canadian vendors to replace our very few American ones. Some standouts include The Makehouse (Victoria), Gala Fabrics (Victoria), Bib n Tucker (Victoria), Troll Bros (Cobble Hill), Northcott (Vancouver), Funky Monkey (Watford, Ontario), and Mook Fabrics (Medicine Hat, Alberta).
Our personal lives –
We chose an office that’s located such that everyone who works there can walk or ride their bike to work. We buy lunch from the grocery store or nearby restaurants, all within walking distance. We separate our recycling and trash. We are mindful of single-use packaging in our office supplies and avoid it when possible. We use compostable drip coffee filters, rather than disposable cartridges.
Lessons Learned –
We’ve learned that if we start with sustainability as a foundational value, and make all of our choices with the planet in mind, it doesn’t end up costing money or hurting our business. The key is to start with sustainability, then continuously improve in incremental ways.
If you came here from Facebook, Instagram or Reddit, I’d love to hear in the comments about the sustainable choices that your business has made and the incremental improvements that have resulted.
A discarded disposable mask half-buried in sand on a beach. The reason we started doing this in the first place - we can be safe AND be kind to the planet.