The Language of Sustainability at MM
We live in an age where ‘sustainability’ can mean so many things. For one company it could mean ethical working conditions, for another it could mean environmentally friendly manufacturing or pesticide free farming. For us it means all of the above and so much more.
The language used relating to sustainability is important and it is often misused by businesses, both purposefully and accidentally, which creates confusion for everyone. To ensure you know exactly what we mean when we use different language, we have researched the below terms and defined what they mean to us.
At Maggie Marilyn we pledge to always be completely honest and transparent about our business practices. If the below definitions resonate, we encourage you to use them as part of your own sustainability communications. We will ensure we keep this language consistent to avoid any possible confusion.
A material that can decompose down into carbon, nitrogen, water and other naturally occurring elements in the open environment or in a compost, and leaves no toxic residues. Note - Unfortunately the term “biodegradable” has been misused a lot (especially in the plastics space) and the traditional meaning of the word has been compromised. This has commonly been the case by businesses claiming their product biodegrades but yet it simply breaks apart into smaller pieces of plastics creating microplastics which are entering our food chain and polluting ecosystems across the globe. Or in other instances most of the product biodegrades but it leaves behind toxic residues.
Bluesign is a holistic system that provides solutions in sustainable processing and manufacturing. Based on strict criteria, to support the company specifically in its sustainable development. Bluesign checks the progress that a company has made in this effort and provides continual further development of solutions. Under the strict Bluedesign criteria, manufacturers are required to act responsibly and sustainably with regard to people, the environment and ensure consistent transparency and traceability of all processing steps. Find Out More Here.
BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) supports companies to drive social compliance and improvements within the factories and farms in their global supply chains. BSCI implements the principle international labour standards protecting workers’ rights such as International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions and declarations and the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
A material that can decompose down into carbon, nitrogen, water and other naturally occurring elements within a compost, and leaves no toxic residues. We will only use this term when describing materials that have been certified as compostable.
A circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution while keeping products in use for longer through reuse, repair and recycling, as part of a closed-loop system. Any waste should become food for another process such as compost; a regenerative resource for nature.
Carbon credits are sold per 1 tonne of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) that is sequestered. Scientist are able to calculate how much CO2 a forest sequesters over a period of time and so the owners of that forest can then sell this as a “credit” for a business who is emitting CO2 and wants to offset it.
This involves an organisation calculating how much Carbon Dioxide it is responsible for emitting into the atmosphere to run the business (transport is our biggest cause of CO2 emissions) and doing something to help sequester (put CO2 back into the soil as Carbon, leaving the O2 for us to breathe!) the same amount of CO2. This is most commonly done by buying carbon credits.
A business that calculates how much Carbon Dioxide (CO2) it emits and then buys the equivalent number of carbon credits to offset their emissions is said to be Carbon Neutral. Sometimes also called Carbon Zero and Climate Neutral.
Deadstock fabrics are essentially leftovers. They are a result of a broken fashion system where brands over order fabrics or textile mills over produce. The deadstock industry is a bi-product of the broken ‘take-make-waste’ model. Until this model is changed (something we are a vocal part of), we believe that repurposing deadstock is making the best of a broken system. We will continue to educate our community and industry peers around this issue with the hope that in time, deadstock fabric will exist only in very small quantities from fully traceable supply chains.
To breakdown into carbon, nitrogen, water and other naturally occurring elements in the open environment or in a compost. The same as biodegrading.
Degradable simply means that a material will break apart into smaller pieces. Therefore everything is technically degradable. A tree, an apple, a rock, a plastic bottle. Again this term has been used heavily by businesses greenwashing. Most commonly by the plastics industry. Don’t be fooled “degradable plastics” are not the solution.
ECONYL® is a regenerated nylon that is made from diverting waste from oceans and landfills, including materials such as fishing nets, industrial plastic waste and carpet flooring. It also has the ability to be recycled again, making it part of a closed loop system.
Toitū enviromark diamond certified organisations have a self-sustaining EMS (Environmental management system) in place. They have internal systems to ensure that their plans and policies are followed and to identify any opportunities for change and improvement. They have top management commitment to the EMS and its continuing stability.
Relates to what is morally right and wrong. Across our diverse world of cultures, ethnicities and religions there are always going to be differing opinions on what is right and wrong. But to Maggie Marilyn to be ethical means to be caring, kind, and respectful of other living beings and to ensure their decency and freedom while seeing every human being as equal.
A product or material has been sourced from people who are cared for, respected and fairly paid for their work and product. In the case of an animal product, the animal has also been cared for and not mistreated in any way.
FSC Forest Stewardship Council certification ensures that the wood fibres we source for our paper, cardboard or viscose come from responsibly managed, non-ancient forests.
A GHG is a gas that absorbs and “traps” heat in the earth's atmosphere creating a “greenhouse” effect and ultimately warming up planet earth causing Global Warming, which in turn is causing the planets climate to change. The Greenhouse Gases that are the biggest issue are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons, ozone and water vapour.
Greenwashing involves the incorrect use of sustainability terms to fool customers into thinking a product or service is better for the environment than it really is. A common example is the use of the term “degradable” to describe a plastic bag. Greenwashing also involves a business making claims about something they are doing that is “green” or “good for the environment” while continuing to pollute and/or degrade the e.g. donating money to save Pandas while continuing to pump toxic dyes into rivers.
Global Recycle Standard (GRS) certification ensures that our recycled polyester is verified post-consumer waste, and that it wasn’t produced solely to be recycled. Furthermore, GRS also ensures that responsible social, environmental and chemical practices are upheld throughout production. The objectives of the GRS are to guarantee good working conditions, and that harmful chemical and ecological impacts are significantly reduced. This includes companies in growing, spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing, printing and stitching. Each stage of production is required to be certified, beginning at the recycling stage and resulting in the end product. GRS is a certification created by The Textile Exchange. The Textile Exchange’s mission is to accelerate sustainable practices in the textile industry. This acceleration only happens when steps have been taken to ensure that actions that are taken toward sustainability result in real and meaningful change. Find Out More Here.
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres which takes into account every step in the supply chain. The standard aims to define worldwide recognised requirements that ensure the ecological status of textiles, from the harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing, up to labelling, to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer. When our fabric is GOTS certified, we can ensure that our Maggie Marilyn customer is wearing a piece that will cause no harm to them and has caused no harm to the people in the supply chain or the planet. The problem with the term ‘organic fabric,’ is the vague meaning. GOTS certification has looked at every step in the supply chain, and defined what it means to be organic. Simply put, the ambiguity of organic is no longer ambiguous when it is GOTS certified. Find Out More Here.
The aim for OEKO-TEX® is to ensure safety from harmful chemicals from a consumer point of view. Many people don’t think enough about the fabrics they wear, and the horrific effect that harmful chemicals can have on the skin. Extensive product checks and regular company on-site visits ensure that the industry has a globally sustainable awareness of the responsible use of chemicals. With this concept, the OEKO-TEX® Standard has taken on a pioneering role for many years. With the OEKO-TEX® certification the Maggie Marilyn customer can be certain of the safety of their clothing.
Maggie Marily practices the Precautionary Principle when approaching our decision making. Basically, this means that when we are unsure whether some is safe, fair, damaging or harmful we stay on the side of caution until we are absolutely sure it is safe or fair to proceed. See below for the official definition from UNESCO. When human activities may lead to morally unacceptable harm that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish that harm. Morally unacceptable harm refers to harm to humans or the environment that is: Threatening to human life or health, or Serious and effectively irreversible, or Inequitable to present or future generations, or Imposed without adequate consideration of the human rights of those affected. The judgement of plausibility should be grounded in scientific analysis. Analysis should be ongoing so that chosen actions are subject to review. Uncertainty may apply to, but need not be limited to, causality or the bounds of the possible harm. Actions are interventions that are undertaken before harm occurs that seek to avoid or diminish the harm. Actions should be chosen that are proportional to the seriousness of the potential harm, with consideration of their positive and negative consequences, and with an assessment of the moral implications of both action and inaction. The choice of action should be the result of a participatory process.
Responsibility to us means the moral obligation to do the right thing. When you see us use the term "responsibly made" we are reffering to all the ethical and environmental considerations we have taken into account in producing that garment.
This is when an object is reused for the same function it was designed for. E.g. reusing a drink bottle to carry water.
This means an object is being reused for a function it wasn’t originally designed for. E.g a t-shirt being used as a bag. Repurposing an object may involve some modifications to the original product as in the previous example (the t-shirt would need to be stitched up) or it may not e.g. using a t-shirt as a rag. Repurposing is also commonly called “up-cycling”.
When an object or material is brought back to a working condition and making sure it is still functional by directly fixing the problem E.g. sewing on a replacement button.
To bring a product or material back to a “working condition” and making sure it is still functional plus also adding in any updates or touching up any other problems E.g. sewing on a replacement button plus rehemming or putting a patch over a rip (which may be designed to stand out and be obvious or to be inconspicuous). Refurbishment is more comprehensive than repair.
Remanufacturing involves the complete remaking or “rebirth” of a product. E.g unstitching a dress and resewing the whole thing.
Did you know there is more than one style of recycling? Mechanical Recycling is the most common and involves the use of big machines that shred up a product, clean the pieces, and melt them back into their starting form. In the case of plastic, this involves turning it back into nurdles (looks like a tiny pearl) so it can be transported. These nurdles are then melted again and injected into a mould to make a new object, or it in the case of making recycled polyester it is melted into a thread (polyester). Chemical recycling is a much more recent technology and so still of very limited scale. It involves using specific chemicals (and machines) to help break a material down to its molecular level. These are usually liquids that are then used again as ingredients to make new material.
A process or an impact, natural or human made, that restores an environment or ecosystem to a better state is said to be regenerative. (Think of planting trees).
While organic farming is about doing less harm, regenerative agriculture builds on this, focusing on actively improving our environment. Through restoring vital nutrients to our soil it is able to sequester more carbon from the atmosphere, prevent soil erosion and increase biodiversity, in turn enhancing our natural resources.
The Responsible Wool Standard is an independent, voluntary global standard that addresses the welfare of sheep and of the land they graze on. On farms, the certification ensures that sheep are treated with respect to their Five Freedoms and also ensures best practices in the management and protection of the land. Through the processing stages, certification ensures that wool from certified farms is properly identified and tracked.
In simple terms it means to put carbon back into the soil. When plants grow they absorb Carbon Dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere and turn it into sugars (also know as sap and carbohydrates) through the process called photosynthesis. Plants transport these sugars down into their roots and into the soil.
A term that is used to encapsulate everything relating to the topic of “being sustainable” (it’s a BIG topic!). This is most commonly broken down into three key pillars known as Social, Environmental and Economic, or People, Planet, Profit, or the Triple Bottom Line. At Maggie Marilyn we choose to use the three key pillars of People, Planet and Prosperity as to us economic sustainability should create prosperity for all of our stakeholders (not just those at the top).
If something is sustainable it can be continued or sustained. “Being sustainable” to us means to live and conduct business in a way that can be sustained within the natural boundaries of our planet and that provides prosperity for all.
TENCEL™ Modal fibers help to maintain the environmental balance by being integrated into nature´s cycle. The fibers originate from the renewable raw material wood, created by photosynthesis. The certified biobased fibers are manufactured using an environmentally responsible production process. The fibers are certified as compostable and biodegradable, and thus can fully revert back to nature.
To openly share and provide access to information about our business.
A poisonous material that is capable of causing death or serious harm to living organisms. It’s important to note that the poison is in the dose. Too much water can kill a human being, and did you know apple seeds contain cyanide?
ZQ is an established grower standard, owned and operated by The New Zealand Merino Company Ltd and is recognised by the ISO/IEC 17065:2012 standard. ZQ certified wool guarentees sustainably farmed, ethical, quality wool. Not only world-class quality fibre, but the quality of life. They care about the quality of life for their animals, their land, air and water, and their families. ZQ assures that sheep are humanely treated, well fed, live natural and healthy lives and are not subjected to mulesing. All ZQ farmers create a Land Environmental Plan to manage the impacts relative to their individual farm. Farmers are also connected to the brands that buy their wool and all bales are tested and sampled to ensure quality and that brand specifications are met. ZQ supports the safety of those living, working and visiting ZQ farms and promotes safe and healthy workplaces, fair wages, and ensures farmers have access to income stability. Find Out More Here.