The Fine Line Between Business & Personal Ethics
So We Flow... has never just been about business. Sustainability has always been a part of every decision made for the company, and my personal ethics are as tied up in that as they are in decisions made in my personal life. Your work reflects yourself and vice versa. You may be able to sever responsibility for a highly unethical business choice in a huge corporation (despite what it may do to your conscience in the long term), but as a small business owner everything you do comes from your own belief system, standards and ambitions. And I wouldn't want it any other way - So We Flow... is a business, sure, but through that comes an opportunity to cultivate a lifestyle I can be proud of. Doing good for myself, my family, the So We Flow... community and the World as a whole.
This can just as easily go the other way. Business owners serially make choices that hurt those they appear to love, definitely those they don't and certainly everyone and everything beyond that. I have unfortunately witnessed this in a business of someone very close to me. This situation has made me believe, for the first time in my life - rather cynically - that some people genuinely feel no remorse for their actions, and will do whatever it takes for personal gain and maintenance of the ego. We are surrounded by everyday narcissists and psychopaths.
Of course this makes me sad, but in many ways it inspires me to make both the decisions of So We Flow... and myself untainted by personal gain and ego. This is when integrity becomes your greatest asset.
Our Sustainability & Ethical Landscape
I'd be lying if I said I've always made the perfect decisions in regards to sustainability. For whatever reason (that's another conversation) being 'sustainable' or 'ethical' is nine times out of ten the expensive, difficult option. Ultimately, the business must exist to make those good choices. But as So We Flow... grows it becomes easier to make these decisions favourably and we're beginning to make things rather wonderful. The following paints the picture of our current sustainability and ethical landscape and how we plan to improve in the future.
All our cotton is GOTS Certified and we are introducing Better Cotton over the next few months. Our manufacturers only use GOTS certified dyes/chemicals, herbal dyes and natural printing ink in their production of organic fabrics.
As it stands we only have one example of non-biodegradable plastic in our supply chain - the sealed bag that each garment comes in. This bag serves a vital purpose which the customer could not do without - it protects the garment from being soiled anywhere from transit to us and delivery to you. You must understand that we have been trying for several years to substitute this, but as a very small business, the impact you can have on 30+ years of a manufacturer's process is negligible. However, we can proudly say that by the end of 2020 we will have eliminated this final piece of plastic to be replaced by sugar cane bags. We'll be the the first to admit this isn't perfect, waste is waste, but it's a bloody good step in the right direction.
Safe & Fair Workplaces & Relationships
We only work with manufacturers and suppliers that align with our values and meet our environmental and social guidelines. We are now working with a team that personally visits and vets every single part of the supply chain to ensure they uphold the highest standards.
All our manufacturers and suppliers have at the very least one of the following credentials:
We aren't far off being one of those trendy companies that can tell you the name of the farmer who picked the cotton for your latest garm. Pretty cool.
Reducing Our Carbon Footprint: Collaboration with CarbonClick
We’re making an effort to use sustainable practices in every part of our business. We’ve teamed up with CarbonClick, a New Zealand company making it easy for people and businesses to help fight climate change.
CarbonClick appears as a button in your cart, below the products. When you click it, a small contribution is added to your basket which purchases carbon offsets. These offsets reduce the environmental impact of the carbon emissions related to the purchase. CarbonClick's offsets fund forest restoration, tree planting, and renewable energy projects around the world. We’re proud to be part of the fight against climate change.
We’ll be making our own contributions, and changing our practices to reduce our carbon footprint. We hope you’ll join us in creating a sustainable future, by choosing to CarbonClick with your purchase.
All our garments produced from August 2020 onwards will come with a 'Transparent Production' tag. This will contain details that may include (but not limited to) fabric sourcing, factory locations, factory credentials such as GOTS, farming credentials such as Fairtrade and a summary of why we made these decisions. We are laying it all out on the table to show that our publicised practices are legitimate, and not hollow marketing jargon. This information will also be available on product pages pre-purchase.
Limited Unnatural Materials
We only use small percentages of man-made fibres such as elastane. This is necessary to make our garments as fit-for-purpose as possible - meaning you can get more versatility and life out of a single product. We are constantly striving to replace these fractions with natural fabrics that serve the same function.
Throughout our range we use recycled organic cotton, fabric offcuts that would otherwise be thrown away and plan to introduce recycled polyester in the coming months.
It's The Small Things That Count
As of August we will be replacing all our plastic buttons with coconut shell. The nut from the abundant and fast growing coconut palm is a well loved food in much of the world. The inside is eaten and the shell often goes to waste. By using this unwanted material to make buttons, waste is reduced and communities are supported by a sustainable resource.
We now have a permanent Sustainability & Ethics page where you can find our present and aspirational manufacturing, business and lifestyle practices.