The social and environmental issues in the garment industry are complex, and span design and manufacture to end-life. Since our inception, we’ve been committed to cultivating positive impact from our products, processes and operations. We don’t see sustainability as a definite concept – it’s a journey, not a destination – which is why we’re constantly reassessing and considering new possibilities to better the footprint that we leave.
Proudly, all of the dyes used to create our vibrant textile designs are azo-free. Azo dyes are commonly known carcinogens and are resistant to wastewater treatment. Their use results in hazardous health issues for textile workers, and can contribute to industrial water pollution if textile wastewater is released into rivers and oceans. We’re happy to note that all of our printing and dyeing is conducted in mills with water treatment plants on site, which separate solid waste from residual water.
We hold high standards for the environmental performance of the materials that we choose to work with in the production of our collections. In our garments, we preference the use of natural fibres such as linen, cotton and wool, or environmentally responsible plant-based synthetics such as lyocell. We avoid the use of oil-based synthetic fibres, such as polyester.
For our leathergoods, we choose only to use leathers that are sourced as a byproduct of the meat industry; tanned with naturally derived tannins found in tree barks rather than heavy metals such as chromium.
We increasingly use organic cotton where we’re able to source it, and are working to increase our access to other certified organic natural fibres. It can be difficult to reliably access organic options as a small brand, but is an area that we’re actively working to improve in the near future. Read more about our materials.
We choose to only work with manufacturers who share our passion for environmental stewardship and social responsibility, and personally visit and document all of our makers to ensure that they align with our high standards of ethical practice.
We’re always seeking opportunities to use the production of our collections as a vehicle for positive social impact. Our Artisan Made product lines are a collaborative effort between a number of social enterprises in India, and we’ve previously worked with organisations such as Injalak Arts – an Aboriginal-owned social enterprise based in the Northern Territory – and Care International on a variety of products. Read more about our makers.
care and repair
We believe in buying once, and buying well, and encourage customers to minimise the environmental impact of their purchases by caring for them properly. We provide comprehensive information to extend the life of our products, as well as recommendations and – where possible – materials and hardware to repair wear and tear.
We reuse the cardboard boxes from all of our bulk production shipments, and have significantly reduced the plastic packaging in shipments from our makers to our warehouse.
Our leathergoods come packaged in their cotton dustbag, rather than in individual plastic packaging, and are packed in a large cardboard box lined only with enough plastic to protect cargo from the elements. Our garments come packed by style and size, in lots of ten to fifteen in a single sleeve, without coathangers – this small tweak alone has reduced our garment plastic usage by approximately 90%.
The vast majority of our bulk production is shipped to us via sea freight. Aside from enjoying the thought of our treasures making romantic voyages across the ocean, we love that sea freight emits over 100 times less carbon than airfreight.
Between selling directly to customers through our online stores, as well as wholesaling to other retailers, it’s a tricky balancing act for us to accurately predict supply and demand. Sometimes we love something so much that we wind up manufacturing too much, but we’re getting better at optimising our buying processes. This reduces the stock left at the end of a season, and the false value perception created by end-of-season sales. It’s so much nicer to buy once, and buy well, and endless sales don’t help that cause!
For over 10 years, Nancybird HQ has been 100% powered by wind (something that’s super easy to arrange … just ask your electricity supplier!) Skylights reduce our reliance on electric lighting, and we primarily utilise LED lighting. We use rechargeable batteries for computer equipment such as keyboards and mouses.
We recycle all paper, cardboard, metal and hard plastics, and always reuse or recycle post packs. The Nancybird team avoid the use of single-use plastics in our office – seriously, we’re regularly competing for who has the cutest reusable coffee cup.
Being a part of a thriving local community means a great deal to us, and we love to give back. Since 2016, we’ve donated a portion of our sample sale proceeds to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, and we donate five bags to the 3RRR Radiothon each year (long live community radio!). We also make regular financial and in-kind donations to a variety of schools, kindergartens and community organisations that align with our values of diversity and social inclusion.
All of our online orders are packed and shipped in completely recyclable packaging materials. We’re also transitioning to shipping in comPOST Packs from The Better Packaging Co – made from cornstarch, they can be popped into your compost heap to biodegrade!
We preference printing our marketing collateral on recycled or FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) accredited paper stocks.
Maintenance and Cleaning
Our headquarters are maintained by a cleaning business who only use non-toxic and chemical-free cleaning products.