Sustainability Matters! Sure, but what is it?
This very old notion, we recently started (mis)using on daily basis. Sustainability has become catchy and sexy. Businesses develop sustainably, we talk about sustainable households or production processes. But behind this newly revived key-phrase we still find inconsistencies, unanswered questions and misconceptions about the notion itself.
Not trying to sound like Oxford-educated English professors, we would like to share a few pin points telling what sustainability means for WOMB, and how we do our best to practice what we preach.
1. Transparent and conscious production in controlled amounts
WOMB works with a lot of designers who all use different means of production. The core value is, however, the transparency of the production process. Transparency means the ability to track every step of the production process, nothing is questionable, hidden or outsourced.
For us, sustainability in production also means conscious sourcing of materials, educated use of techniques and the will to innovate using new technologies in order to “green up” the production process, eg. UAU Project’s biodegradable 3D prints!
When talking production, quantity also matters, and it matters a lot! Creating abundant amounts of certain products, like over 50 collections pushed and promoted by fast fashion brands (Read this NY Times article to learn more about the problem!) results in plenty of surplus product that eventually ends up as piled trash in India or China. Therefore sustainability also means carefully scaled production like COSMOS Studio, who release minimal, basic collections in limited amounts.
2. Calling your environmental impact
Are you dyeing your fabrics naturally or using chemicals? Are you creating a lot of plastic waste while shipping your product? Do you have unused fabric cut-offs? Some of these questions might feel inconvenient - even for us! But being aware of what impact your business has or may have on the environment, is a part of the sustainable approach.
Not everyone can go zero-waste like amazing Pat Guzik, but being conscious of one’s waste production and actively making an effort to minimize production waste is definitely a step in the right - sustainable - direction.
3. Ethical working environment
We shiver when we hear about the mistreatment of underprivileged, underpaid workers in places like South East Asia or Africa, even in Europe. Or child-labor! Exploitation of human labor continues to be a major problem in 21st century, and we believe that sustainability also means to treat the employees well.
The notion of sustainability is simply not valid without the notion of fair labor.
4. Maximizing use of reclaimed material
WOMB works with several up-cyclers and re-cyclers (Hello there, Jolene Jolene and WyRób!). We are happy and proud to be working with designers who turn to already produced materials/items instead of sourcing virgin materials all the time. We can’t run away from the fact that any new production is another burden for our planet, and ideally we would just not produce any more and use the deposits and surplus that we have already.
For WOMB, the ability to turn already manufactured material into something new is also a form of creative manifest, which we value a lot, but sustainably sourced materials are only as good as the designer’s use of it. As pointed out before, sustainability means optimizing the usage of sourced material, going more in the direction of minimizing production waste.
As mentioned before, there is no sustainability without ethics. But do ethics only apply to humans working in factories? Shouldn’t ethics apply to materials used as well? It is difficult to talk sustainability when the producer needs to kill or in other ways exploit other living beings, in order to gain a material for the production.
For us the core of sustainability is empathy. Empathy with our planet, with the future generations to whom we leave this planet when we pass away, but also empathy with the world and its living beings today. We can’t be talking sustainability only through a presumed lence of our future selves, we need to act today.
Sustainability is now, babes!