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Ethical and Sustainable

We are delighted to announce that in November 2017 Ethical Consumer awarded us Best Buy in their ethical shopping guide for alternative clothes shops.  In fact we now rank fifth out of twenty-seven companies audited via their strict ethical and environmental criteria.  Which is just the best news as everything we do here at Earthmonk has and will always be done with integrity, honesty and respect for the planet and its people.

Here’s what Ethical consumer has to say about us.

“The Ethical Consumer Best Buy Label identifies companies such as Earthmonk who consider ethics throughout their entire operation.   This gives shoppers the confidence that they’re making the best possible ethical and environmental choice.  The label is the definitive endorsement for people who want to put principles at the top of their shopping list.”

 

 

One aspect that we are very proud of is our short production chain.  The organic cotton comes in from three GOT certified farms and passes through just two companies before reaching us.  This means we know exactly who made each of our garments and that you can rest assured that everyone involved works within a safe and healthy environment and earns a fair wage.

Whilst there is always more that can be done we hope that any shortfall we have yet to address is offset to some degree by the charity we are affiliated with who receive 10% of your purchase price (excluding VAT).

In the many decisions that a company such as ours makes in the sourcing, manufacturing and distribution process, here are the ethical and sustainable issues that we think you will care about the most.

Organic Cotton

Many of us already know that pesticides are commonly used on crops. What many of us don’t know is how deadly these chemicals are.  Not only are they poisonous chemicals that affect the land and its delicate ecosystem, thousands of cotton pickers die every year from the toxic effect of the pesticides sprayed on the crops they handle.

Organic cotton is a natural fibre that is renewable and biodegradable. It grows free from any harmful chemicals and is therefore better not only for the environment but also the lives, families, communities and farms that grow the cotton.  It also means that you get to wear clothing that has no pesticide residue on it and that has to be better for your skin.

Ethical manufacturing practices

Earthmonk Clothes

When we discovered Vipaltex, a textile manufacturer based in Porto, Portugal we knew we had found a company whose values were in line with our own ethos.  Vipaltex is a family run business and, as you can see from the photos, the staff work in the kind of factory environment all garments should (ideally) be made in.  We have met all the staff involved in the production of our clothes and have a close relationship with Vipaltex.  What we were particularly drawn to is the fact that Vipaltex own both the mill and a small textile factory, this is very rare but it means that everything is done under one roof from the production of the fabric to the packing of our finished t-shirt.  We can say with pride that we know exactly who makes your clothes!

For 16 years Vipaltex have worked closely with Ralope, a local screen printer who has grown his business just five employees to fifty, and it is here that our t-shirts are hand screen printed.  Screen Printing is a type of stencil printing, where ink passes through a fabric or mesh screen, most decals you see on the front of t-shirts have been mass produced by commercial screen printing companies using machines, hand screen printing necessitates a slower production rate is labour intensive and requires requires a skilled man power however we are sure you’ll agree a high quality, hand produced print made with skill, time and a passion for the job wins every time.

There are pros and cons in using the standard plastisol inks and water-based inks. After much research, we have gone with the water-based inks as they are less toxic, last longer and are softer to the touch. While they require more energy to cure, we think that’s better than the plastisol inks which contain PVC and phthalates both harmful to the environment and to humans with research showing that they are linked to many medical disorders.

Both Vipaltex and Ralope have certification OEKO-TEX®.  This is a worldwide consistent, independent testing and certification system for raw, semi-finished, and finished textile products at all processing levels.  It means that you can rest assured that no nasty, hazardous chemicals are used in the production of your organic cotton Earthmonk clothes.  We can also confirm that absolutely no animal derived ingredients are used within our garments meaning our vegan customers can shop with us with confidence.

Manufacturing in Portugal does mean that we need to ship the goods over to the UK.  We recognise that this has a consequence on Earthmonk’s carbon footprint.  In the future we would like to look into having our garments made with Britain but for now we hope that our work with The Chaikuni Institute goes someway to offsetting this aspect of production.

Click here to see a copy of the factory’s organic cotton manufacturing certificate.

Hats

Our beanies are made using New Zealand Wool farmed with voluntary agreements to avoid the controversial practice of ‘Mulesing.’ They are hand knitted in Nepal within the family home by women who receive good wages for working fair hours.  The production and shipping is Sedex accredited and there is an annual contribution to Carbon Footprint Ltd to offset emissions created in transporting the products.  There is also a  contribution made to community initiatives in Kathmandu Valley following the disastrous earthquakes of 2015.

Environmentally friendly mail bags

As soon as we started looking into packaging, we hit on biodegradable Biothene mail bags. Developed in the 1970s by the Royal College of Forestry, Stockholm, this incredible product is made from a material that starts to degrade the minute it is exposed to sunlight. With heat, the process is speeded up. Within 12-18 months the material has been broken down into small particles which themselves degrade naturally into a completely non-toxic residue.  This is why your garments arrive in a rather dull looking grey bag!

Inside your dull mailing bag you will find your garment wrapped in ethically sourced tissue paper.  We scoured the internet and found one that not only contains a high percentage of recycled pulp also sustainable virgin pulp but is also coloured with environmentally friendly soy based printing inks. The stickers on the parcel are biodegradable.

Carbon footprint

Whilst we acknowledge there is an inevitable carbon footprint resulting from our manufacturing, transportation and dispatch process, we hope that our support of the Chiakuni Institute goes some way to redress this balance.