Waste and our treatment of the planet is the kind of issue that really bothers us at Firespiral, so we imagine that it is important to many of you too!
The single-use, disposable, plastic paradigm that we live in is unsustainable and environmentally damaging on many levels.
We each need to take steps to reduce the amount of ‘stuff’ that we consume on a daily basis, then look at re-using what we can and finally find recyclable alternatives for the necessary consumables.
That is pretty straightforward- but putting it into practice is not so simple. It often takes more time, planning and energy to be more environmentally conscious, and as parents with small children, all of those things tend to be running in short supply! Also, whilst they will save you money in the long run, environmentally friendly alternatives can often have quite a high initial cost which can be hard to factor into the family budget.
So how do Firespiral measure up as a zero waste company?
At Firespiral HQ
Minimising both waste and our environmental impact in general is a main focus for us, and it influences a lot of the choices that we make.
Running a nearly paperless office is fairly simple for a small online businesses like ours, although it means that we don’t get to revel in the joy of office supplies (we love some pretty stationery)!
we work from our homes and have a small sewing workshop. This means that we don’t have to power office spaces or extra buildings. We can streamline processes and combine work and family life to keep our energy consumption low. We also don’t have to drive to work!
Our weaving happens close by, so we only transport cloth a short distance
We know how exciting it can be to receive a fancily packaged parcel, but the branded, decorative wrappings and finishing touches all have an environmental cost to them, and all so often we just end up throwing them away once we’ve passed the initial excitement of opening our new item.
All our postage bags are either fully recyclable or biodegradable. That means that you can re-use them multiple times, but long term they won’t be hanging around for years. Our UK postage bags are fully compostable and will go in the same bin as your food waste, or on your compost heap!
We use delicates laundry bags to package your wraps and blankets. These protect your items in transit, getting them to you safely. They then serve several really useful functions. They can be used for storage, to wash delicate wraps in or as part of your regular laundry routine! Popping your wrap into the laundry bag allows it to be washed in a full washing load without getting tangled up in your t-shirts! We also use them as work in progress bags for crochet projects, for storing toys in, and they’re fantastically handy for camping!
We weave our blankets using recycled cotton. Offcuts of cloth from garment making factories are collected, chopped up and broken down into fibres then re-spun to create new cotton yarn. All of those scraps would’ve have otherwise ended up straight in landfill- shockingly textiles form a huge part of the waste that gets dumped in sites every day- yet by being swept up from factory floors and re-purposed they provide enough high quality yarn to supply us and many other eco-conscious companies.
Weaving is a pretty organic process, and there is a fair bit of educated guesswork involved in working out how much yarn you will need to create the cloth that you need. UK garment manufacturers often have beautiful yarn created for them, but end up with some spare cones that they can’t use up as they only work on a far larger scale and need the dye lots to match exactly etc.
We work on such a small scale that the cones for which they have no purpose can be enough for an entire weave for us, so we can make something precious out of what was only seen as waste to another company.
In comparison there is virtually no waste from our production processes. We work creatively to use up all the yarn that we buy in one way or another. Any tiny ends of cones that we genuinely can’t use can be donated to creative resource centres for schools and groups to work with.
Keeping dyeing and weaving very local to us means that there is very little packaging required for the cloth during its manufacture, and pretty much every centimetre of cloth on the roll gets used for something!
We cut the cloth and hem by hand, so that there is virtually no wastage in the process. Pieces of cloth that can’t be made into wraps go to other companies such as Oak Wren to be sewn into capes and cloaks, and Absolute Bobbins to be transformed into bags. Truly tiny pieces of cloth still find a purpose as Slingamebobs or pendant necklaces, even earrings! The smallest slivers of wrap scrap go to local schools for crafting with. All we throw away are the stray loose threads that we sweep up at the end of the day!
You Help Too!
Many textiles these days are sold with the ‘fast fashion’ expectation that they’ll only have a short life span in our wardrobes, then be discarded in favour of the newest season’s clothes. How many times have you found that it is actually cheaper to replace a damaged item with something new than it is to put the time and effort into mending what you already have?
In the babywearing community, you have re-invigorated the expectation that cloth should be conscientiously and lovingly created, that is precious and valuable and that it should have a long lifespan of use. I don’t think that we give that enough credit! We sell wraps knowing that they will be used pretty much constantly, by one owner then the next- I very much doubt that a single wrap has ended up being thrown in the bin as you might see a coat or dress ending up (even though the initial costs of both might have been pretty similar).
When wraps finish their lives as baby carriers, you turn them into all sorts of wonderful keepsakes and they continue to be loved in new ways. You develop a long term commitment to the cloth that you buy, which in this day and age is pretty special!