The Problem - If you’ve ever received a garment through the post (one of ours in the past, or from pretty much any clothing company) it will most likely have arrived in a clear plastic polythene “poly” bag. The clothing industry uses 180 billion of these single-use plastic bags every year, and each one will go straight into the bin once you’ve ripped it off your new garment. There will probably be an extra layer of plastic thrown in as a mailing bag, for good measure. Also going straight in the bin.
Poly-bags are very effective in that they’re super-cheap (fractions of a penny), strong, very light (which is good for keeping transport emissions low) and see through which helps the retailer. But, they’re single use. They are made from non-renewable petrochemicals and if they make their way into the ocean they’re pretty bad news.
However, it’s not just a case of plastic-bad-paper-good. The fact is a snap decision to transition to paper or cardboard packaging can lead to just as bad if not worse impacts as plastic. If trees have to be felled for the paper (i.e. it’s not recycled), and it comes from non-sustainably harvested forestry then the impact can be very severe. Greenpeace state that 4 billion trees are cut down to make paper every year - the equivalent of 1% of the Amazon Rainforest. Virgin paper creates roughly 3 x more emissions than the plastic alternative, and it weighs more too – greater transport emissions.
In 2020 we decided to completely phase out poly-bags and other single-use plastics from our operations.
The future - We have to be careful with any new packaging solution that we choose. We’re investigating a wide range of options, from 100% recycled paper/card burrito rolls through to plastic bags that dissolve in hot water in front of your eyes, as well as reusable packaging. Every packaging solution has its own impacts, but through an informed decision-making process we will arrive at the option with minimal impact.