Logistics and marketing

In spite of the economic down-turn a recent survey showed that 80% of 20.000 consumers surveyed in 10 countries would reward brands that adopted sustainable practices. But what are sustainable practices and how should they be communicated?

For many designers and companies it may be easier to focus on raw materials and production, since this is what the media tends to ask about and consumers see as part of a clear green and ethical strategy. But keeping ones own back yard in order is part of the life cycle approach. This includes such diverse things to tackle as hangtags, marketing-strategies (no green-washing, please!), sizing, office politics, store interiors, packaging, costumer bags, back-up stocks and warehouse facilities. The list can go on and on, but the most important thing is for you to make a list of all your logistics and marketing details, and start thinking about how you can improve these in a sustainable perspective.

Each pair of underwear is wrapped in a reusable fabric bag made from material scraps

It could be as simple as printing the fiber content along with washing and care instructions on the inside of the item, rather than adding an extra tag. And are you giving enough details about the item? Could you add some good care-instructions? Levi's is one company that has a sewn-in care-label urging customers to wash less frequently and at lower temperatures. You can of course lead your customer to your internet-pages, where you give them even more detailed information about how you produce your clothes, what materials you use in packaging and what your plans are for end-of life. An example you can check out, is Pact Underwear. They have both pictures and a good description of their supply chain. They also make sure everything - including packaging takes place within a 100 mile radius. Each pair of underwear is wrapped in a reusable fabric bag made from material scraps, perfect for storing iPods, jewelry, glasses... They are also looking at ways to recycle underwear (not easy, except as rags!), and welcome suggestions. The shipping bag is 100 % compostable, everyone in the office lives close enough to walk, bike or take public transport. How is that for company policy?

So, as you see, both packaging and customer bags can be made of recycled materials. Marks & Spencer have begun charging for plastic bags in an effort to reduce waste. Also: Are your sizes and your clothes constructed so that customers easily find what fits, to avoid unnecessary returns? Does everyone in the office recycle, avoid printing out emails and generally pitch in on saving resources? Reducing waste through recycling and garbage sorting, can mean a lot of savings. How energy-efficient are actually your stores and offices? Also help your suppliers think through how they can save on energy, and avoid unnecessary waste. Can you avoid over-stocking on items, and if not how do you dispose of clothing you don’t sell out?

On PACT's site you can also shop by cause. They have chosen three diffrent causes they give 10 % of their profits to. Protecting our oceans being one of them. Giving back is also becoming the "new black".