There are layers to sustainability; environmental, political and social factors to consider, and so many different areas within the sustainability ‘umbrella’ where brands can actively create positive change.
One environmental initiative we have previously covered that all businesses can become involved in without directly doing the frontline leg work is 1% For The Planet but there are many other ways brands can ‘give back’ to people and planet and drive a more sustainable and just future.
Below are some brands and companies across various industries that are leading the way, working to balance their profits with social and environmental purpose.
This Australian denim brand launched just last year by fashion industry stylist, Deb Schultz and it’s already garnering attention from ethical fashion advocates. Not only are Justice Denim‘s jeans ethically manufactured in Melbourne, but for every pair purchased the brand has partnered with not-for-profit organisations Project Futures and Destiny Rescue to provide 4 weeks of life-changing education to a young child who has been rescued from child slavery. To date the brand has provided 477 weeks of school funding to those in need.
Deb Schultz, founder of Justice Denim, had these words to say:
“As a mother I feel strongly about our purpose so it’s incredibly important for me that Justice Denim has a positive impact in freeing these children from captivity. For us social purpose is everything, to set the captive free is our life’s work.
Equally we need to ensure we do no harm to the earth, the impact of our production needs to be accounted for just as much as our end goal otherwise we will have nothing to leave future generations. I do not believe we can have one without the other.”
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A socially conscious company that has disrupted the mattress industry with its tongue in cheek approach to marketing. Aside from its carefree wit, Koala‘s foundations are centred around giving back to the planet. A Certified B Corporation and member of 1% For The Planet, the Australian mattress company donates and recycles returned mattresses and furniture through its partnership with Softlanding, a social enterprise that not only aims to recycle as many mattresses as possible but employs members of the community that often experience barriers to employment.
An independently accredited ethical trading social enterprise, The Social Outfit provides training and employment paths for people from refugee and new migrant communities in clothing production, retail, design and marketing in the fashion industry. Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) accredited, The Social Outfit provides skills that are industry recognised and that will eventually assist in them in the transition to jobs within other industries and other employers.
Willow and Co is an investment consultancy, whereby they research and locate property markets for those with a desire to invest in real estate. With every investment, the company plants 1,000 trees as part of a Forest Garden program with Trees For The Future. Not only does this offset the carbon footprint from property construction, but it also gives back to the environment – much needed in light of what’s happening in the Amazon Rainforest. The company also regularly supports other non-profit organisations such asThe Ocean Clean-Up, child protection charityBarnados Australia and World Vision.
“It’s important to have a business model based on consequences and actions, the industry we work in funds new employment and injects huge sums into the economy. It is important that we highlight the real world consequences of an investment including its carbon footprint to the consumer and find ways to offset that.” – Sean Sullivan, founder of Willow and Co
What started with a realisation that human trafficking is still prevalent in today’s society, Outland Denim was launched to provide sustainable employment and training opportunities to women who have experienced exploitation. Today the brand has extended their social view by providing employment to people from backgrounds of vulnerability and social injustice all by way of crafting premium denim jeans from raw materials.
Winki Suits is the brain child of two friends who share a love for waves and vintage apparel. Creating cute surf wear made for women by women, the brand also partners with Honor 100’s Blessed Project Sewing Program that rescues women from human trafficking and gives them a second chance at life through the skill of sewing (amongst other things).
Becky Bothma, co-founder of Winki Suits shared this with EWP:
“Being an ethical brand and being a business with a social purpose are one in the same. We started Winki Suits when we saw a need for women in the Philippines to have skills and employment (and housing and support) after being rescued from trafficking. Our business started largely to support this mission; we focus on employment and training but also on the bigger picture; funding, sponsoring the women and forming a wholesome partnership with the team over there.
“Secondary to looking at the situation in its entirety, the employment and making of clothing is 100% ethical. Anyone can start an ethical brand nowadays, but it’s what you do in your business across all areas that truly makes a difference long term. We’ll admit, we’re not perfect and are still figuring it all out but we’re committed and are blessed knowing we’ve got the opportunity to make a difference to these women’s lives through creating our dream surf-suits.“
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Feature image via The Social Outfit.