A Stronger Green Heart: what we have achieved so far and goals for 2021

It’s a new year and with it comes new opportunities. Each year, we all start out with resolutions to begin it on the right foot, and that’s no different for SUI. We’re always looking to be more Green in every aspect - production, choice of packaging, or even how we conduct our everyday activity in our office and workshop. Making a shift in these little areas can be a significant contributor in our commitment to help our planet and in sharing that responsibility.

Today, we’re taking some time to review what we learned in 2020 and the effective Green steps we’re proud to have achieved.

Learnings and achievements

One of our SUI pillars is Education, and so we are always in the quest to learn more about conscious living, especially within the fashion value chain. 2020 brought us some new challenges and insights that helped us grow in many ways. And with these learnings also came Greener steps.  

Here are some learnings and how we tackled each point to achieve a greener heart in 2020: 

We all care about sustainability but don’t know where to start. Education is key in developing a green mindset, but we know that approaching a large topic like sustainability can be daunting. Through continuous engagement with you all via chats, polls and surveys, we infer that much of our audience are eager, but don’t know where to begin. 

How we tackle this issue is through our online platforms.On our Instagram feed, stories and blogs, we are constantly doing our best to share tips and advice on how you can lead a Greener life. As of now, we have 22 dedicated blogs focusing on fashion, celebrating consciously and more. You can browse them here: 

(Seen here: A Team Chat w/ Mahima, Shanthi, Pallavi, Anukriti and Kajol)

People appreciate knowing more about craft and where their clothing comes from. In this day and age, accountability is becoming more important than ever. How are we to know the impact of our actions, if we don’t know the inner workings and the underlying manufacturing process of what we use, eat or clothe ourselves with. After all, the lives of many are attached to the making of those things. Each passing day we are noticing more and more people showing  interest to see the behind-the-scenes. The journey is now as important as the destination (or end product).

(Seen here: Sohail, our hand-embroiderer from the threadspeller team, working on 'Wildflower' motifs)

We at Sui have always been focused on the journey of our pieces. We grew in strength this year by continuing to share stories on all engagement platforms, highlighting how these journeys help our planet.  

So, in staying true to that pillar, we want to share a brief update of the green steps we’re proud to have achieved this past year:

  • No fabric went to waste when producing our ‘Wildflower’ collection. We are proud to say that each excess piece was reused and upcycled to create our accessories like masks, fanny bags, headbands and more.
  • Previously, we had produced a limited amount of physical lookbooks, however, this past year we went fully digital to avoid paper waste.
  • Our dedication to slow, natural fibres continued in 2020. We crafted using 185 metres of Tencel, 227 metres of hemp, 90 metres of linen, 993 metres of organic cotton fabric (with 818 metres being handwoven). All in all, this decreased our carbon footprint and wastage immensely with no electricity used in the handloom process, less water and no pesticides due to the greener production processes of natural fibres.
  • Within our office and workshop spaces, we continued to encourage use of reusable water bottles, Tupperware etc. to reduce the use of single-use plastics in every area we could.
  • We also avoided harmful plastics by using 580 units of eco-friendly packaging bags made from biodegradable agro-waste.

(Seen here: Tahir, our Master from the threadspeller team, going about daily work at our workshop)

Most don’t know the long term benefits of sustainability. Just being aware can really change our world. Simply asking ourselves key questions like: how do my actions affect the world around me? Is the business I’m buying from treating their workers fairly? If I choose a plastic toothbrush over a wooden one, what does that ultimately do to our planet? It’s being aware of those critical in-between steps and making informed decisions could change the way our world works and our values as a community. 

As Sui, we do our best to continually feature our artisan communities on our platforms - from having live conversations to talking about them on our blog. We also highlight the special features of our fabrics,  including a comparison to show how their production is far greener than the average industry norms. By being aware of our Green vendors and their processes, our community understands how each element of our garment is created, while ensuring fair and equitable treatment for those who create it.

(Seen here: A block print being carved at Bagru Textiles, left; and handweaving in progress at WomenWeave, right)

Individual stories matter. Understanding our effect on the world can be a large and overwhelming exercise. However, if we look to the people who have managed to achieve important green goals no matter how  big or small, the fight feels less difficult. 

With the world going into lockdown in March of last year, many industries came to a halt and we were no exception. Our solution was to find ways to share conscious journeys, keep spirits up and positive while providing a green point-of-view. And so we created , “Green Heart Conversations”,  and we’re proud to say we had a total of 14 conversations with other green hearts including some from our very own team, but many from other walks of life. All uploaded on our IGTV, you can check them out here:

Goals for the New Year

What are green goals? Green goals are goals we set at SUI, which will help better our impact on the little things we do. They range from the clothes we make to the communities we work with.

Why do green goals matter? Goal-setting helps us build a stronger action plan to motivate us for the months ahead. We believe this to be an important practice at SUI. It gives us a road map so that we can work harder towards our mission.

Green Goal #1 : Measurable

We’ve always maintained that we aim to connect the gap between nature and fashion by crafting with a green heart. However, we know that without the facts, these are empty words, and that our progression needs to be accountable through solid fact.

We aim to:

  • Primarily, we want to bring you stronger facts and figures so that you can understand SUI’s impact better like we shared earlier.
  • We hope to share more frequent updates rather than just annual roundups of these statistics.

Green Goal #2 : Relationships & Transparency

We wish to develop and strengthen our relationships with our vendors and our craft makers, one in which we can further digress how they contribute to helping our planet and you can learn more of their own goals and efforts in their communities.

We’re currently a 90-100% in the following segments:

  • Where your clothes are made 
  • Where they are printed
  • Where they are woven
  • Where they are dyed 

And this is where we need to do some more work:

  • Where the yarn is spun - we currently have information for our handloom fabrics, however, for the rest, we are working on clearer details. 
  • Where the fibre is grown - we currently have information about our organic cotton knits and power loom weaves, handspun handwoven organic cotton and Tencel fabrics. For fabrics such as linen we are working on gaining better information.

We aim to:

  • Understand their needs and how we can help them grow and raise awareness.
  • Bring further transparency into our Supply Chain so that you know where your clothes come from. 

Green Goal # 3 : Impact - to increase our impact on the lives of the people we work with 

As we grow, we hope to keep bringing initiatives which directly benefit the communities we work with while also tying up with platforms fighting for a greener and happier planet. This would include initiatives such as holding sales to raise money for our tailors & our artisan partners to tying up with environmental NGOs and help in spreading awareness about their cause.

Additionally, we want to work with our artisan communities and threadspellers to help lift their craft further, sharing their struggles and their wins with all of you.

As part of these initiatives, we aim to do the following:

  • Collaborate with 2-3 environmental NGOs this year.
  • Collaborate with sustainability platforms and fellow sustainable businesses in order to work towards a great cause together.
  • Feature many more hearts of SUI (our team) stories.
  • Host 2 sales to help raise money for our existing artisans and vendors.

Green Goal #4 : Awareness & Education

We truly believe that knowledge is power. The more we understand about the impact caused by our actions, the more beneficial and stronger our steps become. As part of this goal, we plan to share a constant stream of bite-sized information ranging from sustainability in our daily lives, to sustainability in the fashion industry. Thereby, we hope to help you make better decisions in your daily life. Stay tuned as we bring you more about the same.

What we do today - feature organisations and individuals with green intentions on our online platforms from blogs to hosting Instagram take-overs and live interviews. We have also created campaigns for change in the past where we create specific products to promote awareness of these important issues.

We aim to:

  • Collaborate to  create at least 1 campaign for change, focusing on a chosen organisation or community who need support.
  • Bring even more green minds to the platform through our Green Heart Conversations series.

Green Goal #5 : Storytelling - to keep bringing you impactful stories and featuring those who are taking greenful steps forward

“Learning from each other”is a practice we have learnt to love. We cannot stress enough that stories matter. We want to keep bringing these stories to you – of changemakers, artisans, our customers, our teams – to show you that no step is too small.

So, look out for more #suiisshe, green heart conversations and our collection themed Real People stories such as #weareallwildflowers. Our most recent features for that series includes Singapore based green heart-ers - like Lily Khin, a photographer and writer; Rachel Loh, an artist and writer; and Mary Victor, a make-up artist and body neutrality advocate - and India based green heart-ers - like Anya Gupta, a social media strategist leading a low waste lifestyle; and Ekta Rajani, a stylist, design and creative consultant.

Green Goal #6 : Better Packaging 

Our packaging is an important way for us to stay green. Right from the start, we’ve been mindful about the processes we use and how we can help reduce our impact when it comes to the same. With this goal in mind, we hope to further strengthen SUI’s packaging by sticking to our mantra of reusability and upcycling while adding on technology and digital mediums to help reduce waste.

What we are doing today - reusable boxes, compostable bags and upcycled bags - our goal with our packaging has always been to make sure they are produced using materials that are reusable and recyclable.

We aim to:

  • Reduce the quantity of tags and cards we have in our packaging .
  • Work with digital mediums such as QR codes to help with additional information on the brand.
  • Continue the use of recycled paper and cardboard boxes as they promote reusability.
  • Work on finding better alternatives for our smaller packaging boxes for online orders.

Green Goal #7 : Minimise Waste - our road to zero waste & a more circular model

Mindful production and purchasing of our raw fabrics lies at the heart of what we do. We pride in being called a slow fashion brand, as this practice has helped us minimise our inventory wastage and craft productions on demand. Additionally, upcycling our scraps into interesting accessories has been another way we aim to produce lower wastage. 

What we are doing today - upcycling our scraps, reusing deadstock fabrics and producing on a made-to-order basis.

For example:

Our Winter 2020 collection, WILDFLOWER, was a zero waste collection. We used all our scrap fabric to make beautiful gifting brooches in collaboration with upcycling artists, ‘Use Me Works’ - an ethical NGO focused on female empowerment and sustainable, low waste fabric production. 

We also created a new and interesting accessory this year, our Fanny Pack, from our waste and deadstock fabric as well as upcycled many of our summer and winter fabrics to make masks.

We aim to:

  • Primarily create a model of circularity and moving towards low waste as an organisation.
  • Work towards a SUI repair program. While this may not be live this year but our goal is to eventually give you a platform to be able to repair/upcycle your existing SUI wardrobe. 
  • Continue working on upcycling projects from our scrap in-house and via collaborations.
  • There are fabrics which do well while there are some that don't. While we can’t always predict performance we always have a plan to use up our leftover fabrics in various ways. This year we hope to use upto 40-50% of our deadstock fabrics in the coming year for our collections.
  • Work together as an organisation to measure our waste and there after work towards a greener and low waste system at our factory & offices.
  • Trace and analyse how our products could be repaired or recycled to increase its use and general product longevity.

Sure to say, our list of goals may keep growing over the year but this remains our foundation to help us work towards our mission towards leading and creating with a green heart.

We hope this gave you more insight into what we have in mind in the future, we will always aim to be transparent with you, our conscious community, and hope you continue on our journey with us. We have so much we want to accomplish and can’t wait for it to all become a reality!