Sustainable is a word we hear a lot these days when it comes to clothes, but what does it actually mean to be a sustainable company? And more so, like greenwashing (when a company spends more time or money marketing themselves as environmentally friendly, rather than minimizing their environmental impact), is the word sustainable also being used to sell more rather than to describe the actual methods of the company itself?
Here, at Panamuna we uphold the belief that when we create something from pure intent and with our impact in mind, then the benefits spread further then to just the person wearing our gear. We have put a lot of effort into making sure that your purchase from us is making a difference to both the planet and the people in our supply chain. But what actually sets us apart from other companies?
Our textile production
When you buy one of our shirts your money goes towards organic, ethically produced cotton, which is manufactured using sustainable energy generated from wind and solar power into the tees you see on our website.
Our t-shirts are manufactured at the company EarthPositive®, which use renewable energy and low impact farming techniques that have been able to reduce the carbon footprint of their t-shirts by over 89%. An average men’s large white t-shirt, according to The Carbon Trust, produces 6.574 kilograms of Carbon Dioxide, whereas EarthPositive® has been able to reduce this significantly to use only 671 grams of Carbon Dioxide during the production of their large white t-shirt. This represents a reduction of 89.79% in Carbon Dioxide emissions.
As well as watching our carbon footprint, Panamuna also have a strong focus on water conservation and having a low water footprint. Did you know it takes approximately 20,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of cotton and 3000 litres of water to produce one Men’s large cotton t-shirt? That’s why we obtain our t-shirts from a company that works in a region that receives 95% of its water from the monsoon rain, which reduces the need for large-scale irrigation projects normally associated with conventional cotton farming (which often deprives the local villages of scarce water resources by draining lakes and rivers). By only using 5% of water from irrigation and freshwater sources, this gives a saving of approximately 2,850 litres of water per t-shirt (based off a Men’s size large).
The water used to create our products is looked after, controlled in a closed-loop purification system that uses treatment ponds, sand filtration and reverse osmosis to convert the wastewater into clean water.
Our printing process
It is not only our textile production that uses sustainable methods, we also use these methods for our printing process. Here at Panamuna we only use water-based inks, which are environmentally friendly as they do not contain any toxins or heavy metals. Further, our inks do not contain any ozone depleting chemicals (vs other companies that use plastisol ink that contains PVC and phthalates that are harmful to the environment), making them eco-friendly and better for your health.
We also only print on demand, which means no excess stock wastage. Due to the nature of fast fashion, nearly 90% of clothing material now ends up in landfill or dumped somewhere in nature. Our aim when starting Panamuna was to not be just another surf brand contributing to fast fashion, so printing on demand allows us to achieve this. When we receive an order, the t-shirt size and colour is found (we have blank stock purchased and stored in reusable containers) and then the design is cued and printed by us by hand. (Kristy notes to Rod: I think a photo of you printing would go really well here to show it is literally you printing the t-shirts.) The t-shirt is then packaged in fully biodegradable, compostable, PVC-free packaging and shipped to the customer.
While being environmentally friendly, we also make sure we are friendly to workers as well, making sure our products are sourced ethically and promote fair work. All our merchandise is sourced from companies that honour the Fairwear Foundation, where employment is freely chosen, there is no discrimination or exploitation of child labour, workers receive payment of a living wage and reasonable hours of work are offered in safe and healthy working conditions, as well as legally binding employment relationships
Right now, it is an amazing time in the sustainable world as people are starting to want to choose products that are more sustainable, ethical, and environmentally friendly, unfortunately there are a lot of companies (both big and small) that are spending more time promoting themselves as sustainable to appeal to the customers wants, rather than truly making their products and company sustainable. So, we are urging everyone to really do their research when it comes to buying from companies. Make sure to check if they are “truly” sustainable, ethical, and environmentally friendly, not just using those words to market themselves. If you are unsure, e-mail them, ask questions and find out more details about their production methods, be sure their methods match with their marketing.
Here are our top five brands that, like us here at the Panamuna Project, use true sustainable methods:
Patagonia has led the way with sustainable and environmentally friendly products with 100% of the virgin cotton in their clothes is grown organically and 64% of their fabrics (this current season) are made with recycled materials. Additionally, Patagonia are also using hemp in 37 of their product styles, along with 100% of their wetsuits being made with FSC® - certified natural rubber, both which uses less petroleum and less synthetic fertilizers to make. Along with being environmentally friendly, Patagonia also demand fair trade, with currently 82% of their line being Fair Trade Certified.
Rapanui also makes their products from natural materials, using reusable energy, and everything they make is designed from the start to be sent back when it is worn out so they can make new products from the materials they recover. This supports the circular supply chain by making new products from used materials instead of making waste.
Founded by Kelly Slater, Outerknown was created to make clothes with a radical commitment to sustainability. So far they have accomplished; 90% of the fibres being sourced organic, recycles or regenerated, 100% of the trunks made with recycled or renewable fibres, though Fair Trade USA they have invested in the livelihoods of over 5,000 workers and was the first brand to pursue Fair Labour Association accreditation before ever shipping a product.
The Green Wave are a U.K based brand that have an environmental rating of ‘great’ with all their products being Global Organic Textile Stranded certified and manufactured locally to reduce their carbon footprint. They also have a labour rating of ‘great’, which ensures payment of a living wage throughout their supply chain. They trace all of their supply chain and all their supply chains are independently audited or visited by them to ensure they are up to standard.
Save the Waves Coalition is an international non-profit that works with like-minded organisations dedicated to protecting surf ecosystems. Selling sustainable products, a purchase from them protects beloved surf coastlines with 100% of their profits protecting surf ecosystems around the globe.