At Sunday Bedding, we are a socially conscious brand striving towards becoming truly sustainable, and we are committed towards continuously minimising our environmental impact.
Today, there is a lot of research being done, on what steps we can take towards a more sustainable textiles economy. Many of us (ourselves included!), sometimes lack a holistic way of understanding how our consumer behaviour impacts the environment.
Having said that, we strive to learn more about how we can minimise our impact. We believe that the notion of sustainable textiles will require changes on both the demand and supply side, and are currently working in the following directions:
Influencing The Make Up of Textiles Demand:
According to a study by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, in the global materials flow of clothing in 2015, 89% of the virgin feedstock are polyester and cotton (or some blend between the two). When the majority of the world’s textiles production is concentrated in 1 or 2 materials, an imbalance in our environmental footprint occurs. To put things into perspective, producing plastic-based fibers such as polyester for textiles uses ~342 million barrels of oil every year while the annual production of cotton is estimated to require 200,000 tonnes of pesticides and 8 million tonnes of fertilisers. As a result, each year half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres – equivalent to 50 million plastic bottles – are estimated to be released to the ocean.
An equivalent of 50 million plastic bottles are estimated to be released to the ocean every year from the production of textiles
While organic cotton is certainly a better step forward, our view is that shifting to organic cotton alone is not enough to address the problem of textiles sustainability. As written by Yvon Chouinard, the founder and owner of Patagonia in his book "The Responsible Company", a Patagonia polo shirt made of organic cotton from an irrigated field requires 2700 liters of water. Each polo shirt, from the cotton field to their warehouse, generates nearly 21 pounds of carbon dioxide. In addition, organic cotton yields can be as small as 60% of those of conventionally grown cotton, and depending on the usual volume of fibre harvested per hectare) such reductions can represent significant financial losses for farmers, especially if the market does not support the necessary increase in price.
With 90% of textiles production in polyester & cotton, we believe that textiles diversity is the key to a more sustainable textiles economy.
We believe that diversity of textiles is essential for a more sustainable textiles economy. For example, bamboo rayon uses 80% less water than the cultivation of Cotton. French Linen is derived from flax, a plant that is extremely versatile and where every single part of it is used to create a worthwhile product (e.g. linseed oil). At Sunday Bedding, the first step we are taking in our sustainable journey is to move our cotton products towards GOTS-certified organic cotton. Our long term goal will be to shift consumers towards bamboo and linen bedsheets to decrease the reliance on cotton & polyester for our textile demands.
Continuous Operational Improvements on the Supply Side:
The concern with textile production is typically around chemical usage. For instance, the rayon in ‘bamboo rayon’ sheets are first generation cellulose fibres, which require chemicals to process and convert into the bedsheets as an end product. However, not all rayon are created equally and there are several different ways to manufacture rayon - all of them vary in the way chemicals are used during the process. Our supplier of bamboo rayon has developed technology to recover the chemicals used in the manufacturing process and is China's largest cellulose fibre production and R&D base. At Sunday Bedding, we also put in place strict effluent treatment protocols in our factories and all the water released from our processes are completely potable. Additionally, our factories are STANDARD 100 OEKO TEX certified, which means that no harmful chemicals have been used throughout the production process of all our bedding
All water released from our processes are completely potable
We understand that sustainability is a journey and is about continuously educating ourselves and doing better for our environment. In 2019 this year, we are preparing to be certified MADE IN GREEN by OEKO TEX which is a traceable consumer label for sustainable textiles. By Q4 this year, consumers can find the unique product ID for each stage of the production of the textiles in their hand. On top of that, it means that our bedsheets are made with materials tested for harmful substances, in environmentally friendly, safe and socially responsible, facilities.
Our materials are STANDARD 100 by OEKO TEX certified, a consumer label for textiles where no harmful chemicals are used.
Finally, we have incorporated sustainable management targets yearly on our factories across electricity, oil, coal, carbon emissions and water. Since 2017, we have reduced our oil, coal and carbon emissions footprint by 7-8% every year, and a 10-14% annual reduction in electricity and water consumption.
Since 2017, we have achieved a 10-14% reduction in electricity and water consumption annually.
We will be piloting a textiles recycling initiative in the next quarter, and we hope that in a small way, we’re contributing towards a more sustainable use of our natural resources. We understand that we're not always perfect, but we strive to learn more about our impact on our environment and how we can do better as a textiles player. Do send any ideas or thoughts you have on sustainability our way – we’d love to hear from you!
Sources: The Responsible Company by Vincent Stanley and Yvon Chouinard (2012), Fashion and Sustainability: Design for Change by Kate Fletcher and Lynda Grose (2012)