How We Minimise Our Environmental Impact

Posted by Harri Baillie on

At Sweet Cheeks Merino we are passionate about doing what we can to try to minimise the impact our brand has on the environment. See what we are doing below:

Sustainable and Biodegradable

Firstly, incase you didn’t know, we just love merino wool. It is nature’s super fibre.  Not only does it have a whole range of amazing properties which help make it the best fabric to dress your little one in (learn about them here), it is one of the most sustainable fibres.

Merino wool is a totally sustainable circular fibre. It is 100% biodegradable (on both land and in the ocean).

Sweet Cheeks Merino Product Lifecycle

The reason this is so amazing is because this is the total opposite to synthetic fibres (polyester and nylon). Synthetic fabrics are made from fossil fuels and crude oil and does not breakdown.  They take hundreds of years to decompose - releasing micro-plastics into the soil and the oceans as they do so.

On the contrary, merino not only fully breaks down in a few months, it actually improves the quality of the soil as it does by releasing valuable nutrients back into nature.

Merino sheep live off the land and the sun, they eat grass and drink water available to them in their environment.  They need to be shorn yearly otherwise their fleece gets too heavy for the sheep to handle. 

One of our favourite properties of merino is that it doesn’t need to be washed after every wear. If it's not dirty, airing it out is enough to freshen it up. Our kids wear their singlets for a couple of days between washes. This reduces the energy it takes to care for our products (see more info on how to care for your merino here.)

Embracing Slow Fashion

According to Woolmark, the average shopper is buying 60% more clothes than they were 15 years ago - but only keeping them for half as long.  This is clogging up the landfills with discarded clothing.

To combat this, Sweet Cheeks Merino focuses on slow fashion - we ensure all our garments are top quality and made to last. It bring us so much joy when we hear stories of how our items have been passed down to younger siblings and friends. We create basics that never go out of style. Our pieces are all made in small batches that we know we can sell. Our range is tight and our colours are considered. Our styles are versatile and are made to be passed on.

Waste Minimising 

At Sweet Cheeks Merino we minimise our waste by making sure all usable fabric is cut into beanies or mittens and donated to charity (to find out about the amazing charity partners we support click here. Any fabric scraps too small to sew into something useful are recycled or composted.

All Sweet Cheeks Merino packaging and swing tags are recyclable.  We do not use poly bags or single use plastic when dispatching our goods.  Our parcels are dispatched using compostable or recyclable mailers.

GOTS Certified Dyes

Fabric dying is a process which can typically be hard on the environment, where possible we have tried to minimise our impact.  We only use fabrics which have been dyed with GOTS certified dyes.

GOTS credited means all chemical inputs are evaluated and must comply with a number of basic toxicity and biodegradability/disposal requirements. Toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde, aromatic solvents, functional nanoparticles, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and their enzymes are completely banned. The use of synthetic finishes is limited, and do not contain heavy metals. Bleaching agents must be oxygen-based (no chlorine) and AZO dyes releasing carcinogenic amino components are prohibited.

We are also proud to be purchasing fabric from a company that recycles and reuses 85% of its water and who whole heartily believes that the environment doesn’t need to be sacrificed for quality when it comes to fabrics. 

Transparency

We are a small business, and (where possible) we choose to also support small family businesses. We manage everything ourselves. Meaning we are able to have complete control and visibility over our production line. We manufacture our clothing in Auckland, New Zealand.  We personally know our cutter and sewer and we visit them regularly.  They are also small family businesses.  We choose to work with business who share the same values that we do. 

What can you do?

We know that even with the best of intentions, pieces will no longer meet your needs, or wont last forever. When you are done with your Sweet Cheeks Merino goodies we suggest you look into one of these options to minimise the environmental impact:

  1. Mend me - if it is just a small hole why not try repairing it (our grandma would have done this for us!)
  2. Hand me down - pass your beautiful merino kids and baby clothing onto a friend, family member or donate it to a charity store or organisation who supports families having a tough time. We have four kids in our family in the space of three years, the same merino bodysuits and singlets have gone through all of them.  To us, there is something special in wearing something that a family member has lovingly passed onto you.
  3. Compost me - King Charles famously buried two jumpers in the garden at Clarence House in 2016 - one was wool, the other synthetic.  After six months the synthetic sweater was pulled from the ground, washed and looked as good as new.  The woollen one had disappeared.
  4. Recycle me - there are organisations around who take discarded textiles, separate them out and recycle them into something useful again. Upparel is one of our faves - more info can be found here.

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