With sustainable impartiality about sustainability vol. 3

With sustainable impartiality about sustainability vol. 3

Simple decisions to help make your business less environmentally burdensome 

Hi, it's again Kuba from KABAK. In the third episode of my series about #sustainabilityfashion from the manufacturer's perspective, I discuss simple steps that each of us can take to make our business more sustainable. 

As we know, each of us, manufacturers, operates in a specific environment, having both direct and indirect effects on it.  Likewise, almost every product consumes natural resources during the production process and generates a specific carbon footprint, resulting in a negative impact on the environment. However, does this mean we should stop manufacturing altogether? Such a scenario is, in my (and I think not only my) view, impossible to implement.  We can, nonetheless, produce and act smarter,to not only reduce but also compensate for our environmental impact. In the face of progressing climate change, the only sensible production strategy is to limit and balance one's environmental impact. This can be achieved by reducing the carbon footprint of production and logistics, as well as lowering the consumption of natural resources during the manufacturing process. However, major changes require not only time but also an appropriate scale of operations. We experienced this first-hand at KABAK when we decided to replace our base raw material used in production with organic cotton. Although this plan had been with us for a long time, it was only in 2019 that we gained access to yarn with thickness suitable for the production of socks, as previously such yarn was not available on the Polish market at all, especially for brands of our size. Yet, on the way to the big goal, which is the comprehensive replacement of raw materials used in KABAK with their most sustainable versions, we have taken a number of small steps to make our company a little more 'eco'. While I am not an expert on these issues, as a manufacturer, I can share these tips that have worked for us without requiring the commitment of huge logistical and financial resources. After all, I am convinced that the sum of the small changes we implement as manufacturers, not just fashion producers, can turn into a significant change for the environment :)

Every manufacturing company's primary focus is, well, production.

Thoughtful planning can make each production smarter for both a company and the environment. Therefore, it is worth using production planning tools in your company, which, among others things, will help indicate key products, their seasonality and sales peaks for particular categories. With well-planned production, backed up by a reliable analysis, it is possible to reduce warehousing costs, better tailor the offer to customers' needs and reduce financial outlays allocated to production, while maintaining the same (or even higher) return per product. And all this for the benefit of the planet, after all, better planned production = less flooding of the market with overproduction after each season.

Each production is, willy-nilly, also production waste.

In this regard, it is worth being creative and embracing the idea of #upcycling, where waste is seen not as garbage, but as a potential product. For example, due to the specificity of our product (knitted accessories, often with patterns), at KABAK we faced the challenge of dealing with a considerable number of so-called imperfects, i.e. products with minor manufacturing defects, such as a pulled thread or the wrong color in the pattern. In order to avoid having to dispose of fully functional and usable products, we decided to create an outlet, where we made them available to customers at symbolic prices. Thanks to this, we not only give a second life to products that would otherwise have to be destroyed, but also promote the idea of mending. At the same time, it was a step that only cost us a little imagination and the creation of an additional category in the online shop :) 

Every product is also a package, including the shipping one.

At KABAK, we have implemented a simple packaging optimisation by precisely aligning the dimensions of cartons to products that are usually shipped together (e.g. hat + scarf). As a result, we have four types of packaging that allow for reasonable shipment of any configuration of products ordered. This means that we not only do not send air in the package, but also save money, because we fit into a 'lower' price window with our logistics partners. At the same time, we have invested in more durable packaging that allows us to use the same cardboard box multiple times. It's a minor investment that has quickly paid off, not only for us but also for the planet :)

And what about fashion itself?

All signs in the market indicate that one of the key fashion trends in the coming years will be re-commerce, i.e. putting products back into circulation. This is already being done, for example, by Zalando, which allows its customers to donate second-hand clothes for re-sale. Zalando is, of course, a giant, but solutions in the spirit of re-commerce do not have to be reserved only for them alone. Every brand can try to administer a second circulation of its products, e.g. through a simple Facebook group that connects customers and enables them to exchange used clothes with each other (by the way, such a group of engaged customers is also an invaluable source of feedback that can help optimise many processes!). As manufacturers, we should also strive to simplify the compositions of our products as much as possible to prepare them for recycling. In the meantime, we can also actively educate our customers on the proper care and use of our products to help extend their life cycle.

Finally, it is worth remembering that the suggestions gathered here are the tip of the iceberg, because in fact every aspect of a company's activity can be attempted to be balanced according to its strengths and size. Whether we are talking about the company's production process, logistics or communication - when designing activities in each of these areas, it is worth keeping in the back of one's mind their potential impact on the environment and trying to make decisions that will minimise this impact as much as possible.  The sum of even small actions, but taken on a massive scale, can help us alleviate the impact on the planet, which is definitely not ready for the annual replacement of the contents of our wardrobes.

Related posts