Sustainable brands are currently a popular talking point, and rightly so (thank ­you Greta Thunberg!) Yet it seems to me like all businesses are happy to jump on the bandwagon, even if their qualifications are lacking. The question is: are we at Bowerbird Collections sustainable? And how can you as a consumer identify what sets apart a business as a sustainable brand? The key to answering this question is transparency. To help your process here are all of the ways that we are currently doing our best at Bowerbird to provide a truly sustainable brand.

What do sustainable brands look like?

To identify this, let’s first take a look at what is not sustainable. The fast fashion model foundation is cheap manufacture to sell vast quantities of low cost profits to make a profit. In order to encourage consumer consumption, the companies convince the customer that they need the latest product. That their life will be improved by acquiring the latest product. That in order to be trendy/happy, the perpetual buying of low value, fast-moving products is a necessary commitment.

At Bowerbird, we believe that sustainability means integrity, quality, true cost, and a dedication to natural components and fibres. We sell what we make for the true cost. The products we supply are not based on trends that leave you questioning why you spent money. They are an investment, built to last and built to inspire in your home without an expiration date. Check out this ceramic Ancient Greek jug… it’s from 900BC and a great example that our ceramics will outlive us all – literally!

Everything that we create has to be a win for us, a win for the buyer and a win for the planet. We always use good quality components and choose natural fibres over synthetic to create products that are worth what you pay for. Natural fibres are not only better for you as the wearer, they are also better for the waterways.

Why isn’t Bowerbird Organic?

Another word that gets thrown into the mix when sustainability is the focus topic is organic and it’s a question that we get asked here at Bowerbird. We recognise that there is a long way to go with organic fabric manufacture. It’s extremely hard to be 100% organic and viable with what is currently available on the market. We are very picky and have a strong vision of what we want to create for our customers. So far there haven’t been organic fabrics that meet our requirements. They are neither affordable or available from our local suppliers. We don’t want to compromise on quality, and so instead in an effort to do our best, here are some ways we approach our fabric sourcing when organic isn’t a viable option:

  • Support local screen printers, digital printers and fabric knitters everywhere possible
  • Source international fabric through local fabric suppliers and Australian businesses
  • We use only natural fibres (linen, cotton, bamboo) or man-made natural fibres (viscose from wood pulp)
  • A promise to never use polyester or other synthetic fabrics

However we never know when the future will change and options will appear and we are always eager to support organic fabrics when they are more readily available!

Supporting local manufacture.

Since our relocation in 2017, we’ve committed to sourcing goods and manufacture locally, where we can. There are numerable benefits to this! Fair pay and less carbon emissions! Supporting Australian makers, boosting our economy and providing a consistent, quality product So much of what we do is based here. The lamps, lampshades, art, prints, decorator fabrics, wallpaper, fashion manufacture, belts and handbags! The exception to this is minimal, we stock Chinese antique furniture, hair accessories made in France and Fair Trade African Beads sourced from Uganda. Our bronze lamp components are cast in Thailand (only because the Australian casters won’t deal with our small quantities!)!

Less waste = more fun!

Waste isn’t just an Australian issue, it’s a global issue. We have a focus of minimising our waste where we can. In our clothing manufacture we utilize every last scrap of fabric. This is one of the reasons that every item of clothing we produce is unique, as they are all cut from different sections of the print. The fabric scraps and remnants from our clothing range? They get a second chance in our handbag and belt ranges! Every small shipment we send out is delivered in a zero waste corn-based post satchel. We take advantage of the Australia Post Recycle Plastic program to recycle the plastic from packages we receive!

Old stock is donated, which is good for the community and good for us! We believe that when you create with integrity you show others that it is possible to be a business that serves, instead of using others to make money.

Where is Bowerbird heading? 

I’ve gone Vegan, and I’ve been researching vegan leather alternatives for our range of belts and handbags. Currently we use Australian hides in our belts. In my opinion poly leather alternatives are worse for the environment and good quality leather. At the moment we have a lot of cow hides from the meat industry. They are better used than dumped for cheap plastic alternatives that will fall apart in a year. Yes the dying process can be very harmful and there’s no black and white here. We are currently in the process of exploring and researching new samples as leather alternatives so stay tuned!

Now it’s up to you to decide, does Bowerbird make the cut? We think we are making steps in the right direction to be a sustainable brand, but we would love to know what you think!

Until next time,

Ellie

Photo Credits: Bowerbird Collections, Worthpoint (Ancient Greek Vase), Bowerbird Collections,