ethics
sustainability
environment

Thank you for taking the time to inquire on sustainability measures of the studio so that you can make more informed decisions as a consumer. The most effective way to drive change in this industry is through asking the right questions and making evidence based choices.

Textile production is a high risk industry when it comes to sustainability. The very nature of producing any design item is fraught with environmental and ethical roadblocks, and we are so very far away from being perfect.

For this reason, it is the commitment of the studio to be transparent about how any supplied textiles are designed and made, and acknowledge that many of these points could use improvement.


Below you will find discussion points around ethics, environment and sustainability under topic headings.

In addition to looking at the processes within this studio, these points may help to spark a conversation with another business, amongst your friends, or help you make buying decisions when purchasing from larger companies selling textiles and homewares. 


If there is anything that you are curious about or think should be added here (as it is an evolving, work in progress), please let me know!

Email info@yolandazarins.com or send a DM through socials: @yolandazarins

Responsible sourcing

The studio aims to source materials ethically and locally where possible. Considering who grew the fibre and how, who milled it, who wove it into cloth and under what conditions these operations took place is an important part of the supply chain and making process. It is an area which is often difficult to find clear information on, and this has been acknowledged in the below studio audit:

Studio audit: base cloths - fibres
1. Linen
General info: Purchased locally through an Australian wholesalesr/supplier, milled and woven in Russia, also described as 'Lithuanian Linen'. I have so far been unsuccessful in finding out about the mill and also where and how the flax is grown. 

Environmental impact: The environmental impact of  flax fibre and therefore linen is generally low, however there can be variation in growing practices (for example organic vs conventional farming). Read more on this topic here.

Summary: The environmental impact of flax fibre and linen as a base cloth is low, however the human impact of this particular base cloth is unknown and more information is needed.

2. Cotton (40%) Linen (60%)
General info: Purchased locally through an Australian supplier, milled and woven in the UK. To date, no detailed information has been provided on the mill. No information found on where and how the flax or cotton is grown and who grows it.

Environmental impact: The environmental impact of  flax fibre and therefore linen is generally low, however there can be variation in growing practices (for example organic vs conventional farming). Read more on this topic here. Cotton is a natural fibre with potential to harm the environment, depending on where it is farmed and what methods are used. There is also the possibility that the growers are not being paid ethically, or may not be protected under a fair trade agreement.

Click here to read more about the factors influencing cotton when it comes to sustainability

Summary: The environmental impact of flax fibre and linen as a base cloth is low, however the human impact of this particular base cloth is unknown and more information is needed.

Conclusion:
The studio uses natural base cloths which generally have less environmental impact than synthetic fibres. However, little is known about how the fibres for these particular base cloths have been farmed, so it is difficult to determine potential hidden environmental impacts such as pesticide use.  More information needs to be obtained about the conditions of the workers who are farming, milling and weaving the fibres and if they are protected by a fair trade agreement.

Studio audit: base cloths - ethical work

The below Policy has been provided by the international agent supplying textiles the studio uses:

We currently work with a variety of International suppliers who support the business activities we carry out from our central offices.

We are currently assessing the risk of modern slavery practices within our supply chain and are concluding that such risks are low in our professional service providers. Any potential risks which arise within our business would be in relation to our supply chain. We will manage this risk through the use of reputable suppliers confirming to us that their own business activities do not involve any form of slavery or human trafficking.

Due Diligence Processes.

As part of our commitment to identify and mitigate modern slavery risks, we will:

  • Identify and assess potential risk areas throughout our business as its supply chain and put systems and processes in place to mitigate the risk of modern slavery practices occurring in our supply chain.

  • Undertake due diligence when considering taking on new suppliers and regularly reviewing our existing suppliers.

  • Consider whether circumstances warrant us carrying out audits on suppliers to ensure they are compliant with our code of conduct.

Creating meaningful design + value

What this means to the studio: rejecting trend based, ‘fast’ design and creating work with the intention of it having high value and long term use.

 

Creating and celebrating the 'value' of textiles
Currently, the studio is focusing on ways to emphasise the importance and value of textiles.

 

The reason for this is to produce something that is beyond a throw away, disposable or seasonal item.

 

Ways value could be created that the studio puts into practice:

  1. Storytelling: approaching print design and artwork through the lens of storytelling and portraying Australian (particularly Tasmanian) flora and landscape.

  2. Designing for longevity: Design preference always towards creating prints and colour ways that are understated and versatile across interiors for the longterm.

  3. Celebrating process, making and the work of textile designers: textile design is a highly specialised area of design, but one that may be perceived as less valuable than other people areas of design or 'crafts'. The studio aims to share processes to help show more of what a textile designer does You can read more about the print design process here or on the blog here

  4. Material selection: Natural fibres, particularly linen, form the majority of base cloths for the textile studio. This was originally due to the studio previously working with a reactive print and dye process that needed a natural fibre to work. It has remained as a preference because:​

  • Linen is a textile which gets more beautiful and its character enhances with age. If cared for correctly, your linens could be heirloom items.

  • Linen is perceived as valuable and an item worthy of care. It is more likely that a linen clothing or homeware item is kept in the home or wardrobe for longer, with many owners choosing to repair or repurpose it rather than dispose or donate it.

Textile lifecycle + reducing waste

Through printing on demand and saving and selling fabric remnants, a great deal of textile waste is avoided in the studio. However, this is a starting point only and much more can be done.

 

Through continually learning more in this area and engaging with brands, organisations and suppliers who are working towards or achieving cradle to cradle, closed loop processes, the studio strives to move towards a closed loop textile production process.

 

Below are some projects, brands, organisations and resources that have been inspiring initial research in the studio:
 

  • A.BCHA.BCH is a circular fashion label. Their sole purpose is to champion a better way to design, make, wear and circulate clothing to help create a more equitable and sustainable world.

Print process

The studio operated as a hand print and dye studio for 5 years, before transitioning all print production to a digital process. The below is written in first person by Yolanda Zarins to give an honest account of working with both digital print and hand screened/dyed methods in an Australian textile design studio:

"Until recently, I viewed digital textile printing as a key contributor to ethical problems in the textile industry. This was very much viewed through the lens of businesses using technology to mass produce low quality, seasonal items, thus creating more textile waste.

 

This rigid view ultimately locked me into an unsustainable way of working for a long time, including not being paid properly for the work I was doing, or having time to create new designs or undertake research.

 

Being reluctant to work in a digital  print space also ignored that there are potential for ethical and environmental pitfalls in both digital and hand made production processes. Just because something is handmade, does not make it 'sustainable' either - something I have experienced personally in my own studio through a lack of ethical pay, conditions, burnout and high water/chemical waste all due to using a handmade process.

Once I started researching and working with a digital printer using an ethical process, I was able to achieve the following positive environmental  goals in my business:

  • Zero water and chemical waste

  • Less textile waste through printing on demand and achieving a more consistent, quality product (particularly fabric yardage) 

Working with an ethical digital printer means that I am also able to pay myself properly, work in better conditions, and have more time to research and undertake design work to scale and grow my business.

I am not saying that one way is 'better' than the other here - that would be oversimplifying a very complex issue! There are absolutely ethical/sustainable textile studios who specialise in hand made processes, but this is the option that is more sustainable for my studio."

Digital printers we work with:

The studio uses a direct digital printing process, that is, sending a file from a computer to print onto a fabric. We currently work with Next State Print (Victoria)  and are continuing to sample through other printers as we re build the collection. 

 

Next State use water based Pigment Ink to print directly onto fabric which is bonded by heat and pressure to the fibre. Pigment ink does not use any water, and no ink is wasted during the printing process.

How the studio is ethically using digital print technology:

  • Approaching digital technology through the lens of a traditional textile designer/maker, developing textile designs that are embedded with traditional processes and storytelling to make each print special and valuable

  • Exploring how placement printing can be used to produce homeware products with little or no waste

  • Working with digital printers who are transparent in production, and allow print on demand production to reduce textile waste

  • Working with printers who are accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia

  • Ensuring that all chemical and colourants used in our printing process are Oeko-Tex approved

What else? 

More needs to be talked about in this space, and by gaining feedback on exisiting content, or what else needs to be included, the studio can address talking points and also work towards designing more ethical textiles. Email info@yolandazarins.com, or fill in the form below.

Thanks for sharing!