Yesterday was an exciting day - the first time my face has been in a national newspaper! I was quoted in the Metro, talking about some of the steps we take at Bibevie to reduce our environmental impact and be as sustainable as we possibly can. Of course, it didn't manage to write about everything we're doing, so I thought I'd put a post together to tell you a bit more, and why.
Firstly the why. As soon as I decided to set up Bibevie, I was determined that it was going to be a business that is one I can be proud of: one that sells beautiful, high-quality, problem-solving clothes for babies - but also one that is ethical, charitable, gives back as much or more than it takes and overall doesn't have a detrimental impact on the planet. It's a hard target for a fashion business, ultimately our business is creating new products which comes with an environmental impact - but I wanted to offset that as much as possible.
Every part of the journey you go through as a customer has been thought through to make sure it's the best choice it can be. So I thought I'd take you through the journey our products go to, to get to you - and where we're hoping to improve in future.
Growing the material: we've chosen an unusual blend of bamboo and organic cotton to create all of our clothing. You can read more here about why we chose bamboo, but in short, we think the way it's grown and harvested makes it a good environmental choice. It doesn't need any excess water to grow, doesn't require fertilisers or pesticides to grow and grows far more quickly than other plants. It doesn't get ripped out at the roots when it's harvested, so the ecosystem that's developed around the plant roots is left intact.
Making the material: the way that the bamboo plant is turned into a fabric can be problematic; we don't dispute that. So can many other fabrics. This is due to the use of chemicals, and what happens with them. The mills that we use operate a closed loop system - this means that none of the chemicals used make their way back into the rivers or local environment - and they use the least harmful chemicals they can. The chemicals are then treated in an onsite plant and reused as fertilisers. Employees are well-protected against the chemicals too.
Making the clothes: we are working with a fabulous factory in India that holds the same values that we do about environmental protection, worker rights and fair business.
Getting the clothes to Bibevie HQ: at the moment, the clothes are flown over from India. This isn't ideal - we'd much prefer to be able to ship them for much less of an environmental impact - but unfortunately the time it takes to ship means that's not possible right now. As soon as we can, we're going to switch to shipping to reduce our environmental impact.
Packaging: all of our packaging is either biodegradeable or compostable. The garment bags are biodegradeable and our postage bags are compostable. Our labels are printed on recycled paper with twine and a safety pin that you can reuse and our tissue paper is printed on FSC approved paper with low impact dyes. Even our giftwrap is made using unbleached recycled paper and low impact, vegan approved inks - and sourced from a UK small business.
Carbon offsetting: we offer all of our customers the chance to offset the carbon incurred to make and deliver their products, which is on our basket page. The cost of this is typically around £1, and we're so pleased that so many of our customers have taken up this option. The money is used to plant mangrove trees in Myanmar. The mangroves have been destroyed for use as firewood, or to make way for farming, but they have huge environmental benefits, such as protecting against coastal erosion, home to many animals, birds and plants and storing huge amounts of carbon. Our customer donations will help to plant more mangroves and to support the local community to use them sustainably.
Postage: we send out our products by Royal Mail as standard, as it forms part of an already existing network (rather than creating a new journey). However, we also offer faster options for customers to make a decision about their own impact vs their need for the product quicker.
Recycling the clothing: we're running a recycling scheme called Gifted with Love - we're encouraging our customers to pass on their outgrown clothing one way or another. Our labels are designed with name slots, where you can write the names of multiple babies that have loved their Bibevie clothes.
We encourage local recycling or sharing, passing the clothes on to friends, family or people nearby. However, if that's not possible, we will also accept the clothing to be returned to us, and we'll repackage it and donate it to a local baby bank. We will also give a discount voucher for the effort you've made.
So that's everything we do - what do you think? Anything else you'd like to see? We're always keen to hear from you!