Why are we changing our battle?
I spontaneously wrote a post on LinkedIn and Facebook five months ago. I was talking about where we were, our vision, and the environment. I was expressing the fact that we were a small, independent brand and that we could basically do whatever we wanted. I literally wrote it and posted it in a few minutes after a long day and I have been pretty surprised by the positive feedback I received.
At the time of that post, I was in the middle of a reflection that began at the end of 2020, two months after our crowdfunding campaign had come to a close. One repetitive question kept turning into my mind: Are we doing the right thing? Have we chosen the right battle? Is “making golf more cool and female-centric” the top priority today?
The cause is undoubtedly exciting, and golf desperately needs it but the more I was working on the project, the more something felt wrong. Trying to break the status quo and change the culture is great but another battle was starting to call to me.
About a year ago, I started to read more about climate change. First, it was out of curiosity (what the fuck are those people talking about? I mean, the earth is doing great, right?) and then, I dug deeper, and it started to become a real interest (hum… okay, maybe there is a problem with the planet…).
I began by watching videos on Youtube and then I went deeper into the subject, reading articles, newsletters, scientific reports, blogs, and some books. I watched some documentaries and started listening to a few podcasts. I have participated in a brilliant workshop, I dug into the missions of several amazing brands and I started talking to people to find out more about the subject.***
And believe me, it’s a tough one! Even if I think that I am a bit less ignorant today, I am still a newbie, far from knowing everything. However, one thing is for sure: the more I was learning about climate change, the more I wanted to get involved.
Today, I want to rethink Untraced’s mission and make it resonate with this modern world even better than before. I want Untraced to become the first highly sustainable golf brand working with the model of circularity and engage the company with actions that will tackle climate change.
We have already done things pretty well with our polo and jacket (100% recycled and Bluesign Approved material, designed and made in Australia) but we can go way further.
We have heaps of work to do to reduce our carbon footprint, embrace the climate cause, and reach the 1,5-degree objective set by the IPCC and COP21 (more to come on that subject).
Below, I have summarized how we’ve organized the initiatives we want to work on. We’ve used (and personalized) a common structure inspired by science-based targets and have chosen four steps which will lead us in our work: measure, reduce, inform, and empower. Each one of our priorities are split into those four steps.
Step 1: Measure our carbon impact
We are at the very beginning of our adventure; however, we’ve clearly already made an impact on the environment. We are in the process of calculating our current carbon footprint.
Without having the results yet, we already know that a major part of our emissions and impact lies in the sourcing of materials and in the factory we worked with in Brisbane. Shipping and packaging are a very small part of our footprint.
We have provided details on this website about the many actions we will be taking to reduce our footprint.
The good thing about being small is that we can easily make changes and even as we grow we won’t hesitate to implement change each time an improvement is needed. Even when we’re as big as Patagonia.
Step 2: Reduce our emissions/impact and make our energy consumption as small as possible
Here comes the most important part. We have thought/read/talked a lot about how we can operate and produce clothes while impacting the environment as little as possible. Here is how we have decided to tackle this problem: by implementing a circular business model and avoiding as much as possible any kind of carbon emissions in our operations.
We will continue to design our products thinking about their lives from beginning to end.
While recycling is about turning an old product into something new, a circular economy is about designing new products so that, at the end of its life, the raw material can be reused to create new products. This is a clever cycle, and we love it!
Operating like this has three main advantages: preserving natural resources, reusing and recreating waste, and using less energy.
We are so close to our goal of using 100% recycled raw materials. Our non-recycled materials are Bluesign approved and we will make sure to have only recycled raw materials in our next designs.
For the jacket and polo V1, we have sourced our materials from Japan (for quality and durability) and China. They were both pre-consumer raw materials (material lost during the manufacturing process of another brand) and post-consumer materials (products used, collected, and transformed to become a new material).
We are working on another sourcing process for the next batch and will make sure our suppliers and factory are closer to each other.
Our polo and jacket V1 are being manufactured in Brisbane, Australia. We chose to manufacture locally for reasons that seemed obvious (local is said to be better right?) but those reasons were not that obvious anymore after we went for this option. Local is cool, yes, but it’s not always more sustainable.
Whatever option we choose in the future, we will pay attention to these two things:
- We want to have complete knowledge of our supply chain, from the raw materials to the finished products
- We will be very strict about the energy mix of the country we produce in. The country should use, for the majority, renewable energies (wind, hydraulic, solar, geothermal) or a very low carbon energy.
We will continue to be careful about the dyeing process and the energy consumed here. As well, we will pay attention to the water and toxic substances which are of high importance when a fabric is getting certified (Oeko-Tex Standard 100 dyes / CE REACH standards).
Packaging and Shipping
We are using recycled/recyclable packaging, with no polybags, from 3 suppliers located in Australia. We have decided never to use planes to ship our clothes. Everything will be shipped by boat for long-distance travel and by bike for short distances.
In the future, we will find another even more efficient solution. We are currently studying the Repack option: https://www.repack.com/
End-of-Life: product use, collection, recycling
One of our two main concerns at the moment! We are working on the logistics, but we have already decided to offer our customers the option to send us back their polos and jackets once they’ve been used in exchange for a voucher for a new product. This option offers us the possibility to control the end-of-life of our product.
We’re also working on a repair option for our customers and other ideas like partnering with associations or how to offer a long-life warranty. (More to come soon on these subjects).
Pre-Orders Business Model
Our second main concern at the moment. The pre-order business model is key in the development of a circular economy. Why? Because it keeps us from producing too much stock.
Overproduction and overconsumption are the number one problem today in climate change (not to say in our society) and selling our products before manufacturing them is much healthier.
It’s a challenge but we are working on it and we will organise ourselves this way:
- Co-design and test products (prototypes) within our community and with pro golfers.
- Pre-sales to avoid overproduction and stock. The material will be already chosen and ordered before the campaign.
- Manufacturing will begin once all orders are in. We will manufacture 50% more than what was ordered so we have stock to sell on our website.
You've understood it. We don’t want to produce seasonal collections, we will produce capsule collections instead and we will produce multi-season, limited-edition gear.
All our decisions, even the most basic ones, are based on our impact on the environment. We are super far from being perfect, but we try to do better every day.
Once again, we are still very small and as a matter of fact, we don’t have our proper office or warehouse yet. When we have them (told you we will be as big as Patagonia), we will only use green / renewable / low carbon energy.
Step 3: Inform our customers and be transparent throughout the entire product life cycle
Our next capsule collection and every garment made in the future by Untraced will be equipped with a QR code so you can find out the following:
Origin of the gear: Hometown, suppliers, certifications and environmental impact (water, harmful chemicals, water treatment, CO²).
Raw materials used: The origin of the raw material from who the supplier is to what kind of waste was recycled and turned into the raw material. We will share information about the type of recycling process used, as well as the dying, finishing, and knitting processes.
We want our customers to be aware of everything that went into their Untraced golf gear.
Step 4: Empower our customers and guide them towards a more reasonable level of consumption
This one is really important for us. We’re learning more about the climate every day and as I said previously, it is a tough topic to deal with. We wish to share our learnings with you and to make it simple to understand. We will write about these topics:
- Our journey
- What we’ve learned about climate change, making it super easy to understand
- Making your clothes more durable
- Reducing our day-to-day emissions
What do you think? As I said, we are only at the beginning of the adventure and we still have A LOT of other subjects to cover and projects to work on.
These four steps are the first chapter in our story, and I will make sure to write to you more in the months/years to come (like offsetting our emissions for example, how could we do that?). We are clearly not perfect today, and we don’t pretend to be. We will keep working away and remain focused on what we think is right. We hope to have you by our side!
Talk soon, guys!
*** All the given links are just examples among others. If you have any questions or if you want more literature, I invite you to get in touch with me directly: email@example.com