Last year we launched the Positive Procurement Pledge, challenging businesses, government agencies, industry groups and non-governmental organisations around the world to commit publicly to developing and implementing a sustainable procurement policy. By signing GECA’s Pledge, organisations are taking their first step toward procurement that does good for our planet and the people on it.
We’re so excited to have a growing group of Pledgers starting out on their sustainable procurement journeys! It’s not about perfection, it’s about celebrating the wins and learning from the challenges…together. As we take this journey together, we will be sharing the stories of each of our Pledgers.
We recently spoke with Kelli Donovan, the Founder of one of our first Pledgers, fashion label Pure Pod.
Why has Pure Pod taken the Positive Procurement Pledge?
Pure Pod has taken the Positive Procurement Pledge because it aligns with our ethics as designers to make sure our products are made sustainability and as socially aware as possible.
As designers, we take the crucial first step in the development of clothing and can decide how things can be made, grown, designed. We aim to think about the whole life cycle of a garment, from the seed through to the finish life of a garment and how the garment will eventually decompose once it has gone into landfill. With this knowledge, we can prevent our clothing from being made by unethical means, ensure it’s grown without harmful pesticides and chemicals or dyed with unsafe dyes, and made with local makers or certified makers offshore.
By taking the Pledge we will look at our practices more closely and become a part of something much bigger than our brand alongside other ethical businesses. Together we are stronger and can make bigger changes in manufacturing, the health and well-being of our planet and all of the people involved in our production.
How important do you feel ecolabels are in ensuring the sustainability of your supply chain?
As a maker and designer, it is always hard to know exactly how something is made and whether it is sustainable, good for the environment and good for people unless you can go and visit the exact location of every product and supply chain, and this is not always possible. For the consumer, it is even harder to distinguish amongst the flood of all the information on social media and in print.
It is always more helpful, when designing products, to know our producers and suppliers are on the same path as our business. We ask them to show us good certifications or evidence and information that their products and business are ethically and sustainably run and made. This way we can also give our consumers, retailers and the public information about what our clothing is made from and how it is made.
There is never a perfect solution but we only deal with producers who care about the environment, the social impact where their products are made and the overall ethics of their businesses. Not all of our producers have all of the certifications but we know they are trying and heading in the right direction like us. Some smaller producers don’t have the funds or staff to organise lots of certifications for their businesses and our other bigger suppliers have all the right labelling.
What do you think are the biggest sustainability challenges for your sector right now?
I think it’s getting consumers to support small and larger ethical labels, so we can all survive in a tough retail sector and help us all make changes to a massive polluting industry. By doing this it filters right down the supply chain to everyone in the business from the farmer, the fabric dyer, the cutter, the truck driver, pattern maker and designers, etc. The sustainability sector is still small in comparison to the enormous global fashion industry, but in the 10 years since we started Pure Pod, we have seen huge shifts and changes. We are proud to be a among the pioneering labels in our industry.
The more people who buy less and buy better – the more we can help support our whole supply chain and grow our industry so that sustainability is just the norm in design, manufacturing and retail.
Most ethical designers are from small industry and businesses. Most stand on their own and work hard. Collectively we can be a stronger voice and make bigger changes. Smaller ethical designers can be overshadowed by the huge supply chains with enormous budgets and media voices. But sticking together we can be stronger and help each other engage with industry, the consumer and the government bodies who make the decisions in our industries.
Producing in Australia is getting harder as our skilled fashion industry people are retiring and taking their immense knowledge with them. There is not the supply of fashion industry workers coming through, so many designers are forced offshore to be at a competitive price for consumers to buy their ranges.
Where do you hope Pure Pod will be by the end of the 3-year Pledge Road Map?
We would love to be stronger in our ethical education sector and be a mentor for emerging designers. We would love to have the perfect supply chain which helps the environment and all people who are part of it.
We would love to grow our business maybe linking in with a larger business or people who can take us to a bigger stage and invest in 10 years of all our solid groundwork for ethical production and bring beautiful well-made clothing to consumers.
What would you say to other organisations and businesses thinking of taking the Pledge?
We think it’s extremely important as a business to take the Pledge to ensure that the next generation has what we had growing up and the chance to enjoy living in a healthy environment. I think all businesses should take the Pledge no matter what industry they are in so that they can rethink their businesses and make changes for the better. I don’t think it’s a choice, I think it is a MUST!