Environment – Kuwaii

Caring for the Environment

Fast fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, second only to Big Oil. It’s a pretty awful reality. This high turnover model is directly responsible for some of our planet’s most critical environmental issues, including the carbon impact of global transportation, mass consumption of non-renewable energy, and landfill overload. It's an un-sustainable system, and one that we're determined to help change.

Our 2021 Environmental Goals

The COVID-19 pandemic has put us a little behind in our environmental goals. Many of our goals were put in place just before the pandemic hit – 2020 was a year of pivoting and survival for us and our team as we navigated a new way of working from home, lockdowns, forced closures and new team dynamics. We are so excited to start 2021 with a fresh slate and pick up our environmental goals where we left off in 2020.

1. Go Carbon Neutral: We are serious about change. In January, we reassessed our long term environmental goals, with an aim to be completely Carbon Neutral by November 30th 2021. Our carbon audit has begun, and by November 30th 2021 our goal is to offset every single carbon emission we make.

2. Install Solar. On our new Head Office building, we are installing the largest solar system we possibly can. This is designed to not only provide power to our office, but to put enough power back into the grid to offset the electricity our other stores use. Our goal is to have this completed by November 30th 2021.

Read more about the initiatives we have taken to reduce our footprint below.

Minimising Waste
With any type of production, there is always some waste – we try to keep ours to a minimum by designing a little more cleverly. Each and every Kuwaii garment is designed and considered incredibly carefully before the cutting process begins, to ensure that our production wastage is kept to the most minimal amount we can. We will often switch the fabric and cutting direction of our pattern pieces to ensure maximum use of the fabric, and working with our local manufacturers who share our low-waste philosophy means they work hard to reduce cutting waste on every style they produce.

We keep off-cuts and end of season’s fabric and, instead of discarding them, turn them into garments which are sold at our charity sample sales. By doing this, we minimise our waste, create garments for our customers to love, as well as helping the community. It’s a win, win and win. When we can’t use the leftover fabric ourselves, we donate it to local craft groups, schools and kindergartens. We have given fabric to the Brotherhood of St Laurence, who use it in art therapy and sewing classes, or we donate it to Resource Rescue Inc, amongst many others. Our fabric sample swatches are dismantled and donated to a local kindergarten for their craft projects. We have also had fabric sales to sell our smaller lengths of fabric that we can’t use in production. This has been incredibly popular with our customers, who love to find a special length of Kuwaii fabric for their own projects.

We were also able to launch our amazing garment and textile recycling program in April 2020, despite the uncertainty that came with the pandemic. Our dedicated head office team worked really hard to make this happen. Read more about this incredible program here.

We are so proud to say that since 2020, not a single scrap of our textile waste has hit landfill.

Plastic Free & Recycling

In 2018 our business brought in a ‘Big 4 Plastics’ Ban. The ‘Big 4’ plastic items are the most common single use plastic items in daily life, and the cause for the most plastic waste found in our oceans. The ‘Big 4’ are:
– plastic straws
– disposable coffee cups
-plastic shopping bags
– plastic water bottles

We were so empowered by our success in banning the Big 4 that our plastic ban soon spread. We were proud to also ban the following:
– plastic cable ties (used to bind clothing hangers for delivery), replaced with fabric ties made from our scrap fabric
– plastic tape, replaced with compostable cellulose tape
– plastic cutlery
– plastic takeaway containers
– plastic garment delivery bags, replacing them with re-usable fabric ones that we make in our studio.
– Plastic express post satchels, replacing them with home compostable ones.
– Plastic hanger, while we do use these, our hangers are sent back from our stores -> office -> manufacturers, so we need a finite amount of hangers and none of them hit landfill. You’d be surprised if you knew how many fashion brands discard their hangers to landfill after a single use. We also take the time to ensure the wire clothes hangers are returned to our dry cleaners so they can be re-used.

Goal: Our aim is to have phased out as much single use plastic as we possibly can by the end of 2021, from our stores, office and supply chain.

Who We Support

With every choice posed to us, we make the decision to purchase the most ethical option that we can find. We think carefully about where our money goes, and the choices that we make, and the businesses we support. We actively choose women-led businesses where-ever possible.

Our stores are run with 100% renewable, carbon neutral electricity. We also have switched to ‘GreenPower,’ meaning that we are contributing to renewable energy development in Australia by paying extra on our electricity bills. We support companies who are committed to making a difference and whose practices are in line with our environmental policies. We look for local businesses who are vegan, committed to using natural alternatives to chemical ingredients, who donate parts of their proceeds to charity, and who, like us, try to minimise their environmental impact.