Environmental Policy

Environmental and social responsibility has always been foundational standards since the start of wetheknot back in 2011.

Instead of aiming for (unachievable) perfection, we focus on constantly working to make our business and inspire others to be better, more transparent and circular. Therefore, topics such as people's ethical treatment, environmental impact, and the ecosystem's welfare are integral parts of all development, production, and design processes at wetheknot.

Standard company practices

Labour

Sustainability also means respecting everyone involved in what we do, which is why transparency and accountability are key to ensure we’re keeping up to speed with the goals we’ve set for ourselves.

PARTNERS

We are fortunate to work with partners that not only contribute to bringing our design ideas to life but also in helping us grow within our practice — thanks to their expertise and craftsmanship in clothing and accessories making. 

Thus, the partnership with our suppliers turns out to be a collaborative process where, on the one hand, we provide the core and the vision we have for each piece, such as its design and the materials we would like to use. On the other hand, our partners contribute with premium quality materials and assure good treatment and fair working conditions. Such practices ensure the high standards we’ve set in the first place regarding social and environmental responsibility.

We believe that for two parties to have a good and successful partnership, such has to be founded on principles like trust and closeness. All clothes and accessories are handmade by our local partners in the North of Portugal, with whom we have the luck to be collaborating for years and talk on a regular basis. Besides being our partners, these are people we cherish dearly. They help balance the humane and technical factors that are the core of wetheknot — showing that our pieces are made by people who are as passionate for what they do as we are for their work, commitment, and appreciation.

ZERO TOLERANCE

We vehemently condemn and do not accept at any circumstances any practices that involve:

  • Child labor
  • Slavery
  • Unethical treatment of all beings (humans or not) and nature

Materials

The production and bad use of fabrics is one of fashion’s most negative environmental impacts. From the beginning, wetheknot has focused on reusing materials that already exist instead of creating new ones and, consequently, more waste. 

As with the experience gained from each collection released, we are one step closer to fulfilling our Environmental Policy objectives in regards to more sustainable materials, which are being organic, upcycled, recycled, or based on dead stock.

We currently use the following materials:

  • Organic cotton
  • Cotton
  • Cupro — also known as vegan silk
  • Vegan leather — made from cotton (19.50%), polyester (26.30%), and polyurethane (54.20%) / post-consumer recycled PET (39%) and polyurethane (61%)
  • Bamboo
  • Recycled fabrics — such as recycled nylon, recycled polyester, recycled cotton and recycled leather
  • Lambswool 

Research suggests that the use of organic cotton, instead of traditional, varies quite significantly in regards to sustainability and benefits due to organic agriculture and its production scheme. Organic cotton has a considerably reduced impact on the environment, such as lower levels of water pollution and use, and helps to build healthy soil.

We are still in the looks to find a better plant-based alternative to the vegan leather we’re using. This synthetic alternative still derives from plastic-based materials, which provokes adjacent environmental issues. Thus, this leads us to start including new materials into our collections, such as Seaqual — a more eco-friendly fabric based on repurposed textiles — and we’re looking forward to the transition to fully circular and biodegradable materials soon.

The standard provided by our suppliers includes GOTS, OEKO-TEX.

Environmental practices

LOCAL PRODUCTION AND SUPPLIERS

All of our fabrics and garments are either produced in the North of Portugal or in our studio in Almada, which not only helps to keep up with our partners but also to reduce transportation emissions significantly.

REDUCED PACKAGING FOR DELIVERIES

After extensive research, we made the decision to use paper mailers for the majority of our shipments. This solution is suitable for most of our orders, and resistant to safeguard items during delivery. It is also easy to store and reuse.

We are conscious of the material consumption associated with cardboard boxes, which is why we limit their use to larger volume orders or for shipping small items. We encourage our clients to reuse the boxes after receiving their goods, and if that's not possible, to recycle them. Both the mailers and boxes are hand-printed with water-based ink in our studio.

Additionally, we do not include price tags or any extra order packaging materials, such as gift packaging, to minimize unnecessary waste.

ALTERNATIVE TO SHOPPING BAGS

The concern about packaging also applies to in-store sales. We highly encourage our customers to bring their own shopping bags. If a new bag is really necessary, we provide three paid options: a small paper bag, an RPET bag for bigger items, and an upcycled bag — a limited production hand-made from print test fabrics dating back to the 1990s, which would otherwise be discarded.

BALANCING PRODUCTION AND DEMAND 

In some previous collections, we adopted the made-to-order model, where each piece was made based on demand, using fabrics that we or our production partners already had. Due to the brand growth, we have been working with limited collections and data-driven restock, ensuring a more efficient production that meets our demands and minimizes unnecessary stock. We are aware of the environmental impacts associated with extended production processes and, due to the recent expansion of the textile industry in Portugal, many fabrics turned their work to primarily attend larger commercial demands, making it challenging to find manufacturers for smaller productions. Nevertheless, we persist in seeking out such partners that align with our commitment to sustainable practices.

DESIGN FOR CIRCULARITY 

The concern extends to the after-sale. We provide high-quality pieces designed to endure, so it's crucial to us that these products have their lifespan maximized. 

To address this, we created circular.wetheknot, a platform where you can buy our samples or our customers can resell their wetheknot items to get a credit to be used on our website, promoting a more circular approach to consumption.

Animal Welfare

We use vegan leather instead of traditional leather because we want to promote animal welfare and are focused on having an ethical production process. Thus, we refuse to feature leather, fur, feathers, silk or exotic skins in our products. We also keep on using materials such as vegan leather since, for now, it’s the alternative with a better price-quality ratio. Nevertheless, we're searching for an eco-friendly alternative to vegan leather to decrease our environmental impact.

Goals for the near future

We are always looking for ways to improve our overall practices, to evolve with the times and as new processes, materials and technologies become available. Thus, here are some of our short term goals:

  1. Switch the vegan leather material in our accessories for a more eco-friendly material — something that is currently under review for us to find the best alternative available in the market
  2. Have the ability to offer more perks to the people who work with us
  3. Only use any plastic-based materials if strictly necessary otherwise, we’ll opt for more environment-friendly alternatives
  4. Create a more circular system — from the production until you get your product, to the post-consumption phase. You can read more about our efforts in this regard on our Repair Program page and on wetheknot circular platform 
  5. Better our transparency and traceability system so that we can keep on track with our environmental impacts more efficiently, and for you to have full access to such information

Reports and assessments

As one of our priorities is to constantly improve and evolve as a brand hence we believe that one of the tools that will help us in this process is the ongoing review of our practices. Every semester and each collection must be accompanied by planning and designing concrete targets to better understand our overall impacts. Such will be done by assessing the previous collections’ objectives and achievements and how these can be improved further. Thus, we want our entire team to have a say and share their ideas and vision for how wetheknot can continue down this path of betterment.