Did you know that the fashion industry is responsible for about 10% of global carbon emissions and nearly 20% of wastewater.
It's hard to visualise all of the inputs that go into producing garments, but let's take denim as an example. The UN estimates that a single pair of jeans requires a kilogram of cotton. And because cotton tends to be grown in dry environments, producing this kilo requires about 7,500–10,000 litres of water. According to BBC, that's about 10 years' worth of drinking water for one person.
And that's just denim; we could spend hours writing about the rest of the fashion industry, jewellery included. Whether we like it or not, everything we do leaves a footprint. We're not telling you this to scare you away, quite the opposite - we're telling you this so that you can make conscious decisions when making your next purchase.
At Merchants, we strive every day to create a business at the forefront of ethical consumerism. We exclusively craft jewellery with fair-trade, recycled 92.5% solid sterling silver. We use wholly recyclable material that can be melted down for reuse sourced from offcuts and waste used in industrial production; we also use biodegradable packing - and this is just the beginning for us.
We're currently working on becoming a carbon-neutral, zero-waste brand by 2022, and are developing an exciting program that we can't wait to tell you more about it.
But enough about us, let's get back to the brands below. We've compiled our Top 5 Sustainable Brands that we're in absolute awe of!
These companies share our values and ethos, and we're continuously inspired by what they do and how they're helping the world.
Established in 1973, this company has spent years trying to shape the future and be more sustainable. However, they didn't start with that vision; it developed over time after seeing the fashion industry's negative impact on the environment.
With Patagonia's latest wetsuits, you don't have to choose between performance and the planet. Most wetsuits you'll find use a neoprene material, a non-biodegradable product, a leading cause of deforestation, and releases harmful fumes during the production process. Instead, Patagonia taps the sap from the guayule plant and is refined by their partners at Yulex, resulting in a clean and environmentally friendly wetsuit that can be easily recycled.
Creating better material for wetsuits isn't the only way they help the environment. Patagonia also pledges 1% of their sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. They have also created the Worn Wear service to buy used items from them and trade-in and fix your gear helping fight against the fast fashion industry.
We are huge fans of Patagonia and the work that they do. Everything from their style, aesthetic and clothing, to how they're helping the environment and revolutionising the industry.
2 - Saye
Saye is one of the most underrated shoe silhouettes out there; with inspirations from the '80s, the sleek design comes in vibrant pastel colours and tones to match any style. Designed and developed in Barcelona, these shoes have a strong European influence with their timeless and natural silhouettes.
Predominantly a vegan brand, each pair uses bio-based, natural, recycled materials; even the packaging is recycled, plastic-free and biodegradable.
Saye has committed to becoming a zero-waste brand by using bio-based and recycled materials in all of their products and have been fighting for fair work conditions, producing only in certified factories. They also fight against deforestation, planting two trees for each sale of sneakers. +165,000 trees planted and counting.
3 - Everpress
In the saturated art and fashion market, getting a chance to share your work is one of the most challenging obstacles for an emerging artist to overcome. Everpress is a global marketplace that allows unique and small artists to share their work, whilst Everpress does all the heavy lifting like printing, packing, and shipping your designs. We've spent hours scrolling through their website, checking out some of the incredible art on offer.
The principles Everpress hold are inspiring; they are 100% clear with their customers and artists, so you know exactly where every dollar you spend goes. Not to mention all the good they've been doing for the environment, helping to save over 336 million litres of water and over 124,000 tees from landfills thanks to the accuracy of only printing what they sell, so nothing is ever wasted. In addition, their pieces and their retrospective packaging are ethically sourced and sustainable and have a return option with every purchase to be recycled. Furthermore, all of the employees working within Everpress are paid a living wage no matter their position in the company. Perhaps most impressive of all, Everpress is on track to become climate and water positive by 2025, making them a stand out leader in ethical consumerism.
4 - Raie Eyewear
Raie eyewear is a small, rapidly growing eyewear label that produces timeless pieces for every outfit or occasion. Sometimes less is more with fashion. Raie is an outstanding example of that idea by specialising in core tones and monotone colours; Raie Eyewear aims to transcend rapidly changing fashion trends with their well designed, seasonal collections.
Along with the incredible pieces Raie offers, their aesthetic, journal, and principles are something of a dream. They are built on the practices of sustainability. As a result, Raie has made an excellent brand for the health-conscious community.
Each piece is sustainably designed with minimal waste and implements a sustainable acetate to their collection, which decreases their carbon footprint and overall impact on the planet. Not only that, each month, they donate to the WWF foundation to save a Koala and have partnered with One Tree Planted. One Tree Planted is a nonprofit dedicated to global reforestation. For every product sold, Raie will plant a tree!
5 - Outland Denim
Cleaning up the dirty side of denim, one step at a time, Outland Denim is a company that was birthed with the focus of giving people a living wage, education and practical support. They're at the forefront of creating social change and fighting injustice.
They're also the only and first Australian denim company that is Certified B Corporation and second globally. And to say they are deserving of it is an understatement. Outland Denim uses 86% less water, 57% less energy and up to 83% fewer chemicals. In addition, in 2019, the brand introduced the Outland Denim Medical Clinic and this year, they are set to submit the Outland Denim Slavery Statement. HUGE!
To see the complete list of their achievements, all you have to do is look at their sustainability report here; from ethical production to teaching women how to defend themselves, Outland Denim is the best in the biz.
BONUS - Ben & Jerry's Ice cream.
YES, you read correctly. Ben & Jerry's, creators of the legendary chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, who let their personality shine through 'half baked,' and have an entire video on their website dedicated to The Flavour Graveyard. We have drowned ourselves in a tub or two, and to recently find out how incredibly thoughtful this company is - well, we just might go grab some more.
Not many people know that Ben and Jerry's is one of 3500 companies in the entire world that is a Certified B -Corporation, and being a B Corp is no easy feat. But, it set's the gold standard for good business and inspire's a race to the top, creating performance standards and legal structures.
At Merchants, we're very grateful to have a platform to share all these fantastic brands we love with you and hope to continue to learn and set ourselves to the same standard as the brands above.
We'd love to hear from you about sustainable brands that your loving and that we should check out?