Updated: Sep 15, 2021
In 2010 I got my first introduction to sustainability during a study trip to Vietnam & Singapore where we visited companies from different sectors and backgrounds. There are two things that have stuck with me ever since:
Finding the genuine through a forest of fakes.
The ''triple bottom line'' of people, planet, and profit.
The mix of these two challenges is what makes sustainability complex for both consumers and businesses. In this post, we will elaborate on a bit of what sustainability means to us. With the risk of writing a super theoretical post, omitting crucial parts of sustainability, or repeating what has been said better by others, here we go!
Finding the path
To start with the search for the genuine... Each brand or fashion label has a story about the road to sustainability. However it's hard to look beyond the glamorous presentation: separating facts from fiction, should/could they do more? Luckily there are initiatives like Good On You that can help you find out what the real deal is, creating transparency in the jungle.
There is a limit
A rush of water marks the start of spring in the mountains as winters' snow starts to melt. Fields of grass and wildflowers drink deep and grow to the sun, as wildlife and insects awake from their slumbers. As we wander through these beautiful places, we are filled with awe and respect. Humbled by nature's power and balance.
That is why every product we make should not impact the Planet more than necessary or harm animals. For Herder, this means we use certified materials possible (for example GOTS textiles: global standards) where possible or at worst use materials that ensure a durable product. Note that durable is far from sustainable. Durable products should last long and should not end up in a landfill.
We are always searching for more sustainable material options. Suggestions are more than welcome.
Another important way to reduce pressure on the planet is buying less. Don't join the rat race of a new color for each season. Our philosophy: buy what you love as sustainable as possible, take care of it, and keep using it.
Lend us a hand
A well-known meditation or mindfulness exercise is to pick up any object and think about the People who were needed to make that object, the effort that they put into its creation. For the simplest object, you will inevitably appreciate what we, people, are capable of. Sadly, the global economy has some shady or straight out bad consequences for the labor (and living) conditions of the people that make what you use. The pressure on the factories/studios to deliver on time and on a budget is enormous, resulting in tragic accidents and uncontrollable situations. It's a huge dilemma that's begging for a solution.
Again, we can look at the mountains for inspiration, at the communities that live in the valleys. There near the Alps you encounter cooperatives that produce high-quality goods through craftsmanship with the primary goal to exist together. Doing what you do locally gives you skin in the game and is a good way to ensure good circumstances for the people involved. This is why we were very happy to meet the good people of studio Fraenck located in the Netherlands (Arnhem). With a shared vision to produce beautiful products ethically, it feels like the perfect partnership to produce our first line of products.
Got some change?
It's not a popular subject when it comes to sustainability, money... A form of Profit is required to stay in business, so you can keep supplying good products.
We have all been there; in your left hand you hold a nice broccoli, in your right hand you hold another one. The two things you notice straight away are ''wow this left one is waaaay cheaper'', but the right one is biologically produced... which one do you choose? It's a choice that we make many times every day, and very often the impact on our bank account wins the argument over your desire to improve the planet & people.
Because we want to avoid the painful broccoli choice, we trim our margins to compete on price and are transparent on our costs structure. As we write this, we do not know if we will manage to become a sustainable company - it might be too hard. But we believe that this is the most direct way to move on to a new standard of sustainability.
Thanks for reading,