5 PILLARS FOR A SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS

Posted by Shaina Munro on

It can be so difficult to determine exactly if a brand is sustainable or not, we get it! There is a lot of misleading information being thrown around here, there and everywhere. 

We have broken our business down into 5 key sustainability pillars - this is how we operate, and we want to pass this information on to you so you can too be informed to make the most conscious buying decisions.

Remember, no business is perfect, however some are doing more than others!

FABRICS

This is a key factor at Arlo and Olive, and something that is super important to us.

With a lot of research the below list of fabrics is what we have decided to use:

  • Organic cotton
  • Linen
  • Lenzing EcoVero
  • Lenzing Tencel

We have a breakdown of why we love these fabrics here.

There are other great fabrics to what is listed above such as Hemp, Econyl (regenerated Nylon), RPet (recycled Polyester), Lenzing Modal, which we will definitely consider using in the future as we grow and expand our product offering.

Now the bad stuff, here is what we avoid at all costs - and if a brand is using these and calling themselves sustainable, maybe rethink shopping with them.

  • Virgin Polyester
  • Virgin Nylon
  • Generic Rayon
  • Generic Viscose
  • Acrylic 
  • Non-organic Cotton

MANUFACTURING

The 2nd pillar is how it is made. Who made your clothes?
We believe that you should know exactly where your products come from.
This is one of the most important pillars, making sure the clothing is produced in a safe working environment where staff are not exploited. 

Our factory is an Aussie Owned business in Denpasar, Bali.
We recently visited the factory and met the wonderful people who make our pieces.
We believe in disclosing as much information as possible (without naming our manufacturer) so you can best understand how your clothing is made. For example:

Our manufacturers employees:

- Are paid above award wages, and voluntary overtime.

- Work Monday - Friday, with a voluntary working day on Saturdays.

- Receive a bonus around their religious holiday.

- Are entitled to 27 paid days of leave a year.

- Are entitled to paid maternity leave.

- Receive health insurance and workplace insurance.

Businesses should have a code of conduct for their factory, including such things as no child labour, reasonable working hours, paid overtime, above award wages, safe and clean work space, health and workplace insurance, paid leave etc.

And remember, there are good and bad factories EVERYWHERE, so make sure to read up on each brand before you purchase.

PACKAGING

Packaging is a super important pillar to a sustainable business. We have a sustainable product, but it shouldn’t end there. What are the garments shipped in? What packaging is included in the parcel? 

Here are the key thing you should look for:

  • Shipped to consumers without plastic, in compostable packaging.
    Checkout our explanation of why we choose compostable here.
  • Shipped to business without plastic, in compostable packaging
  • Compostable postage labels (many people don't know most businesses do not use compostable shipping labels, so the label must be cut off before the bag is able to be composted.)
  • Recycled or FSC tissue and thankyou notes. 
  • Recycled card swing tags with compostable jute string.

Don't be fooled by receiving an item in a ‘recycled plastic bag’, although it is recycled most consumers will put straight in their rubbish bin and not take to a soft plastic recycling bin, meaning it will end up straight in landfill. 

Our items are sent to us in compostable bags, which we compost here. We use recyclable and compostable shipping boxes, with compostable labels and stickers so you can either pop them in your recycling bin or straight in your compost bin. We also use FSC certified tissue paper and post consumer recycled thankyou cards. This is one of the easiest AND cheapest ways for a business to reduce their impact. 

TRIMS

Trims are something that often get overlooked by businesses, but we think they still make a big impact. Now, as a small business there are a LOT of things we want to do, but at the moment we can't hit the minimum order quantities, so I am excited to keep evolving and becoming better and better. 

Below is what we are doing so far and things to look out for:

  • Cotton brand and care labels on everything
    Most brands will use polyester labels (plastic!)
  • Only metal, wooden or shell buttons on everything, never plastic buttons.

And this is what we have in the works for the future:

  • Organic cotton zips
  • Organic cotton thread.

QUANTITY

The last one is the amount of product a business is producing, how many seasons are they putting out a year, how many new products are uploaded to the website and how frequently.

We are a slow fashion brand, meaning we only put out 2-3 collections a year. We do not operate on seasonal trends and produce pieces that can be worn all year round. One of the biggest things we focus on is making our collections interchangeable, so pieces from each collection can be matched back to previous collections. 

Fast fashion brands put out new pieces very frequently, sometimes every week, or even every day! This means that they are producing a massive amount of products based on micro trends which probably won't be in style in 2 months time. This does not promote conscious consumerism and encourages high volumes waste.


This is a summary of what to look our for when making purchases if you are wanting to shop more mindfully. There is so much we can be doing as businesses and as consumers to reduce our impact, so i hope this helps!

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