There is a lot of talk about sustainability in the fashion industry. To be clear, despite our continuing efforts to source our raw materials with more traceability and use more recycled and eco-friendly materials in our products and packaging, our position is that we do not identify as a sustainable brand.
What we aim to be is conscious and responsible.
Conscious of our impacts and responsible in the small-run quantities we are manufacturing and shipping. Conscious that the products we are making are of a quality level that they can be worn for a number of years (as opposed to the fast fashion cycle of a few months), and also built to the philosophy of '30 wears or more' usefulness as one of our highest design principles.
We are inspired by leaders in this space like Patagonia who maintain
"as individual consumers, the single best thing we can do for the planet is to keep our stuff in use longer." - Rose Marcario, former CEO of Patagonia.
In this way, one of the most sustainable choices we can make as a small brand is to make products you will love and actually use. This is just another one of the many reasons we choose to only make flat shoes in our footwear collections.
Some of our other Responsible Initiatives include…
Toe Tapper Trade – Our Take-Back scheme that aims to close the loop on shoes that still have wear left in them. Toe Tapper Trade encourages customers to return their pre-loved Radical Yes shoes to our store, to be passed on to our Not-For-Profit partner Readyset. Readyset use the shoes to create value for disadvantaged people re-entering the workforce – either by selling them to fund their operations or passing them on for job interview attire.
Hero Compostable Packaging – In 2019 we switched from single use plastic mailers to using compostable mailers for 90% of our outbound online orders. The balance orders are sent in reusable cardboard boxes, making 100% of our packaging recyclable or biodegradable.
Zero Single Use plastic in goods shipped from overseas – we have worked hard, especially with our bag manufacturer - to avoid the use of any single use plastic in our shipments by creating reusable cotton canvas inner bags for each bag to be sent in.
Sea Freight – Not Airfreight - In 2020, 95% of our production was shipped by sea to reduce the CO2 emission per unit and reduce our overall business carbon footprint.
Small Footprint Manufacturing for local distribution – In 2020 Radical Yes manufactured and sold just over 6000 pairs of shoes to the Australia/ New Zealand market. As a business we actively seek to grow organically, methodically and slowly – producing what we know we can sell and choosing to distribute 95% of our products in our local market as opposed to international markets. From our importing efforts, we are committed to creating value and jobs for our local community.
Our Sustainability Goals
1. Extend our Take Back Scheme (Toe Tapper Trade) to be able to take on worn out shoes for textile recycling, not landfill. Currently our take back scheme only covers shoes which can be on-sold, or have more wear left in them. In 2021 we want to extend this initiative by working more closely with local textile recyclers to take our customers worn out shoes and rework them to make sure they are not ending up in landfill.
2. Increase the use of recycled materials, especially recycled leathers - to cover at least 50% of our styles by the end of FY22, with the goal to using fully recycled materials by December 2023.
Over and above our working partnership with Readyset (which included specific fundraising events like ‘Rock Around the World’ charity marathon) in 2020 we donated just under 2% of our Company Net profit to NFP organisations that we feel align with our company brand values – Active, Creative, Joyful and Intelligent.
Last year our donation focus was on supporting Indigenous and First Nations led organisations including Bangarra Dance Theatre and the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. In 2021 we are seeking to increase these donations to 2.5% of net profit.
Already this year we have added Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network to our roster of monthly donations in our continuing efforts to share the prosperity and success of our brand to add greater meaning and purpose to the scope of our fashion-based business.
Sustainability is a conversation we are having extensively in our design studio and wider business, but is not a conversation we want to put on our customers shoulders.
We believe Brands should be doing the internal work to simply give customers better options rather than moralising about their consumption choices. As a brand we are on a journey to take full responsibility for our moral purpose and ethical obligations but we are conscious of the way we share this information to ensure the responsibility remains our own and not our customers.
Above all - Radical Yes, like all fashion businesses, has a lot of work to do in improving the sustainability and ethical management of our value chain, but we have a deep commitment to be constantly growing better, not bigger to support these goals.
Stay Radical. xx
Below: At D. Samson’s warehouse in Sri Lanka (where our Daily Intention trainer is made) a rooftop solar plant generates 36,000kWh of electricity per month while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 29,000kg per month.