Ethically-made is an unfamiliar term to most fashion labels whose goal is to maximise profits for their shareholders by avoiding additional costs.
But ensuring the health and safety of the skilled people who make your clothes shouldn’t be up for negotiation. And should NEVER be considered an ‘additional’ cost.
Working in a safe environment for a fair wage, free of intimidation or harassment, with union representation are things we take for granted. But these basic ‘human rights’ – specifically mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – are still missing in a lot of the factories in the developing world. Factories that provide clothes for most of the big-name surf brands.
All SURF KERNOW® clothing carries the Fair Wear Foundation logo. So you can be sure that the people who make OUR clothes have the same working rights and protections you would expect for yourself.
Our Earth Positive® branded garments are manufactured in Tamil Nadu, Southern India by Continental Clothing Ltd., which is itself a member of the Fair Wear Foundation.
Ethical fashion also means taking responsibility for where resources come from and how they’re processed. All manufacturing industries can negatively impact both the environment and the communities in which they’re based. But by taking an ethical approach, we can avoid making any negative impact and create a positive one instead.
Organically farmed cotton is another one of those ‘additional costs’ that most fashion labels like to avoid. Instead of allowing the cotton to grow naturally, most suppliers increase their yield (in order to make more money) by spraying the plants in highly toxic insecticides and fungicides that also pollute the soil, rivers and groundwater.
This ‘inorganic’ approach to agriculture is poisoning the land and killing the people that work it, as well as the people in nearby communities.
We say NO to toxic cotton
In response to the climate crisis, we’re all looking to increase sustainability by reducing the amount of carbon we release into the atmosphere. At the very least, we should be trying to remove as much as we add. Here are some of the ways SURF KERNOW is doing that:
Wind and solar power allow businesses to operate with far lower carbon emissions – and any excess electricity generated also helps to reduce production costs. In addition to our own studio in Cornwall, our supplier’s facilities in India are fully-powered by renewable green energy.
Another way to reduce carbon emissions is to literally ship products by sea rather than as air cargo. This has a considerably lower impact on the environment is also far less expensive. Closer to home, we use hybrid-electric vehicles here in Cornwall.
One of the great benefits to using natural materials is that our clothes are literally made out of carbon captured from the atmosphere as the cotton grows. Offset this against the 90% reduced emissions from production and shipping, and you get clothes that are virtually carbon-neutral.
Non-Polluting & Plastic-Free
One more dirty little secret lurking beneath the surface of the un-ethical fashion industry is the amount of pollution it generates. Both during the manufacturing process and throughout the lifespan of each garment. Not to mention the excessive plastic packaging that gets dumped into landfill or shipped abroad and often finds its way into the ocean.
The manufacture of clothing poses inherent risks to groundwater, rivers and aquifers. From carcinogenic neonicotinoids used in pesticides, fertilisers and forced-irrigation, to the run-off from bleaching, dyeing and printing. There are numerous ways pollutants make their way into the rivers and oceans – poisoning wildlife and humans alike.
All the cotton used in our clothing is naturally irrigated by monsoon rains and free from toxic insecticides and fungicides. All fabrics are dyed in a closed water system and subject to ‘zero discharge’ water treatment.
Since 2018 all the inks our suppliers use for screen-printing have been 100% water-based. They continue to be free from PVC and solvents.
According to a study by the WWF it’s likely that there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish by the year 2050. Most of this will be ‘single-use’ plastics that break down over time into the micro-plastics we’re already seeing consumed by marine wildlife. They then make their way through the entire food chain.
SURF KERNOW is a vocal campaigner against single-use plastic such as carrier bags, drink bottles and polystyrene packaging. We are also actively involved in keeping our beaches clear of plastic pollution by taking part in regular community ‘beach cleans’.
As you would expect, all of our packaging remains plastic-free, made from recycled material, and is itself 100% recyclable.
Designed in Cornwall
We’d love to say ‘made’ in Cornwall, but the climate here is still too temperate to grow cotton …despite the tropical Cornish summers! However, whilst our garments are sourced from suppliers abroad, all of our artwork is designed and printed right here in Kernow.
And best of all …
When you choose SURF KERNOW® over an un-ethical fashion brand, you’re not only helping to protect the environment while supporting a local business, you’re also helping to ensure that the skilled men and women who make your clothes are all getting their fair share too.