Here are the ways my micro business Wonderpants is endeavouring to be as sustainable as possible, at this stage of our growth.
We make Wonderpants in small batches and to order, hence there is no build-up of stock, which can lead to excess stock ending up in landfill.
We use very high quality certified organic fair-trade fabric, grown in India, knitted and dyed in Australia. As the quality of the fabric is so high, this incorporates into the brand the idea of slow fashion, leading to a longer life of the garment, which ultimately means fewer garments end up in landfill.
Another aspect of slow sustainable fashion that fits for Wonderpants is that we have a classic style/pattern and our styles do not change with fads or fashion cycles. We do slowly introduce new products, but these are designed to be a part of the classic Wonderpant ‘look’, and are not designed to be replaced quickly, or hopefully, at all. This allows for the brand to be known for what it is, not what it is about to be next month, next season.
I am looking into developing some kind of return policy for the customers for garments that have come to the end of their life, so we can be responsible for the recycling/re-purposing of the fabric.
The workroom is situated at The Mill in Castlemaine – which is running at approximately 33% solar power at the moment, with the aim to expand that over the years to 100%. They collect rainwater in water tanks on-site for use in the quite extensive toilet systems on-site.
While I cannot claim to be zero waste – very little waste comes out of the workroom, and most of it is recyclable.
The material scraps are an issue – and we are looking at creative ways of dealing with them. One of the issues of being a micro business is that some of the recycling options available for textiles are not yet available to me as the volume I have for them is so small. But as these options grow and expand, we will be able to utilise these.
In the meantime, I have been coming up with products that use the scraps, such as yoga bolsters, yoga supports, cushions, door stops, hot water bottle covers, face masks, breast pads, and more – which I may be able to put into production myself, or I have a relationship with a sewing collective that trains refugees – and I hope to find a product to suit them that they could take on to make and sell themselves utilising my scraps.
A textile fashion student takes some of my scraps and creates new fabric from them – this is exciting.
A teacher friend takes my cardboard rolls from the fabric rolls, the cones from the thread and recently took some bags of fabric scraps to use with her students in art projects.
My packaging is recycled tissue, plain jute twine and compostable postage satchels. I am currently looking into recyclable cardboard packaging as I am questioning the percentage of satchels that would actually end up in the compost as opposed to landfill, where they do not compost.
I use no labelling on the garment, and minimal labelling with the packaging, to save on wastage.
All my printing is done onsite at The Mill by Print Together, a sustainable printing business, who use eco inks and recycled card.
Most of the furniture in the workroom is either second hand, or purpose built by a local artisan. The machines we use are nearly all second hand, giving them extended lives. Eventually, if possible, I would like to replace them however, with new machines that are more efficient to use and silent – hence creating a quieter work environment.
Kathryn Mc Allister
Photographer: Kate Meade