“Sustainability” is the word on the tip of everyone’s tongues. In order to reduce waste and positively impact climate change, sustainability seems to be the answer. There’s a long way to go, but a lot of brands and the people of Manchester are doing their part to make a difference.
The concept of fast fashion is thought to have a massive impact on the environment. It takes 2,700l of water to make 1 T-shirt and according to recent reports around 73% of the 53 billion tonnes of fibres using to make clothing end up in landfills or incinerators.
Sustainability is all about future-proofing products so they exist constantly. To do this, brands need to look at the materials they use and the way their products are produced. Fashion and lifestyle brands all over the world are making an effort to combat climate change; the H&M Group recently announced its aim to use only 100% recycled or sustainably sourced materials by 2030.
In mid-July, Zara and its parent group, Inditex, made the announcement that all eight brands would only use cotton, linen, and polyester that is organic, recycled and sustainable. There’s also been a wave of big-name brands on board including Veja; the footwear company that uses only ethically and sustainably sourced materials like their wild rubber soles from the Amazon and recycled plastic bottles from the streets of Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro. There’s also the newly launched Blueland, replacing single-use plastics in household cleaning products.
These global organizations are paving the way for a number of local Manchester brands looking to make a change.
Championing sustainable products is the Manchester-based shop, Ecologue, creating a “one-stop shop for sustainable, stylish and affordable” alternatives to plastic. We had a word with them about exactly what it is that they do.
“Ecologue was started by us, Sam and Melissa. We met while travelling, where we saw first-hand the shocking impact that pollution was having on the beaches we visited, particularly plastic pollution. This is what inspired us to do something about it. January of this year was when Ecologue was developed; we have been growing and adapting a one-stop shop for sustainable, stylish and affordable alternatives ever since.
It can be difficult to narrow down what exactly sustainability is, different brands might have different definitions but it looks like Ecologue have hit the nail on the head. To them, sustainability means to focus on what needs doing now in order to avoid compromising the future.
“It’s about getting involved and playing whatever part you can. We have a focus on promoting less-waste alternatives, the type of product that you can use again and again as opposed to a ‘one-and-gone’ product. We often see the mantra ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’, and we lean heavily on the ‘reuse’ aspect. To reuse is to reduce, then once an item has reached the end of its life, that is when recycling or biodegrading comes into play.
“One of the largest barriers when tackling waste is the lack of awareness people have or the lack of information they are given in regards to things like cling film, face wipes and many other single use items. Each of us can contribute to an improvement, but sustainable shopping shows the big companies what we want and how we want it. Shopping smart will, in time, help to encourage them to reduce waste on a larger scale. Email or contact that business that shipped with all that unnecessary packaging, take a metal straw to a bar with you, try to avoid bottled water by carrying a refillable one. There is almost always a better option, so it’s just a case of finding them.”
Even though sustainability is so often associated with plastic waste, that’s not the only material that’s causing absolute havoc for the environment. Currently, the main product that Ecologue is trying to combat is wet wipes, which Sam and Melissa have began targeting by introducing bamboo-makeup wipes. They can be used over and over again after being washed in washing machine. Once they’ve reached the end of their lifespan, they’re even biodegradable so you can chuck them in the compost bin.
“We love bamboo at the moment and are looking into some other bamboo alternatives, such as razors and cotton buds. We are always looking to expand our product range as we aim to provide easy access to as many options as possible. Of course, we still working on introducing our own unique product using upcycled materials.”
Ecologue is a brand that’s local to Manchester, and Sam and Melissa have been lucky enough to get stuck into a variety of events in the city to get their name out there and the response has been “amazing.”
“We spent some time over at Hatch on Oxford Road and have been a part of the Maker’s Markets at the Great Northern, the Lowry and Northern Quarter. We have loved each one and it’s been a great way to talk to people and get the word out! The response has been so positive and it’s lovely to see more and more people getting involved and Manchester being at the centre of it. We have also had a couple of people reaching out to us to help make their workplace more sustainable with pop-up stalls in their offices including Bruntwood and WeWork.
“A larger scale achievement is the involvement of the bars, restaurants and events in and around Manchester. There are more and more businesses getting on board, choosing to offer stainless steel straws as an alternative to their customers.”
One of their biggest inspirations on slow and sustainable living is Patagonia.
“We love everything they stand for and their ethos is notable throughout everything they do. They lead the way in many respects, especially with recycled materials in their products. Their social media exists not to promote their product, but to promote positivity and progression. It’s something we aspire to follow. In fact, we’ve been in contact with the lovely people over at the Manchester store about a litter-pick in the city centre, so that’s something to keep any eye out for!”
The main point of sale for Ecologue products is the website: ecologueshop.co.uk which is contantly being updated and improved. But you’ll have to keep an eye out for them at the Manchester Maker’s Markets and other pop-ups for a closer look. All their events are posted onto their social media on Facebook and Instagram.