We are mindful that the materials we choose to work with have a big influence on the final environmental footprint of our products.
We are working to source the most ethically produced and environmentally sustainable materials that we possibly can. We prefer to work with pure materials that are renewable and recyclable and that have been responsibly grown, harvested and processed.
Over the coming years, we will be increasing our use of recycled and recyclable materials, and materials with credible ethical or environmental certification. By 2025 our goal is that all ELK products will be made with environmentally preferred materials, with full traceability back to the farm and total consideration for reducing production waste and end of life impacts.
We are proud of what we have achieved to date, however, our research to find better, more ethical and environmentally responsible options is an ongoing journey.
Recycled fabrics are among the most sustainable options available as they utilise waste resources and use much less water, energy and chemicals to produce. We will be incorporating more recycled fabrics into our ranges, such as recycled cotton, wool, nylon and polyester. One of the challenges we have found in our search is that natural fibres such as cotton and wool are more difficult to recycle than synthetic fibres. Cotton is usually down-cycled into cloth rags or mattress stuffing, rather than being recycled into new cotton fabric. Blends are also more difficult to recycle, however the good news is that the technology for this is developing at a rapid rate.
Although our usual preference is to minimise the use of synthetic fibres, we are exploring the use of recycled polyester in our garments. Recycled polyester has one of the lowest environmental footprints of all the available fabrics, performs well and is infinitely recyclable in a circular textiles system. We will be introducing recycled polyester into our collections from mid-2019.
The ELK swimwear range is manufactured in Australia by a specialist swimwear company, using nylon fibres made from 100% regenerated post-consumer waste.
In 2017 we started working with a Fairtrade certified supplier in India to produce a small range of garments made from 100% Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic cotton. GOTS is recognised as the world's leading standard for organic textiles, incorporating environmental criteria along the entire organic textiles supply chain as well as compliance with social standards. The range was launched in Australia and New Zealand in July 2018 as part of our Summer 2018 collection.
We use a range of fabrics made from manufactured cellulose fibers, including Tencel®, lyocell, viscose, cupro and rayon. We enjoy working with these fabrics because they breathe well, hang well, wash well and are easy to dye and print with beautiful, vibrant colours. Although the fibers for these fabrics are sourced from natural, renewable resources and are biodegradable, we are mindful of the potential impacts on human health and the environment relating to the sourcing of wood pulp from old growth forests, and the processes used to manufacture the yarn.
Our preference is to work with fabrics such as Tencel® and lyocell that are sourced from sustainably managed forests and produced using a closed-loop system, which uses less water and energy and recycles chemicals to reduce waste. We use these fabrics whenever possible, however, our final choice of fabric depends on the desired look, feel and function of the garment, and unfortunately at this time, Tencel® and lyocell are not suitable for all applications.
We are working to ensure that our cellulose fiber fabrics are not sourced from ancient and endangered forests, and that they are made using processes that are safe for people and the environment.
To support our commitment to sourcing sustainable forest fabrics, we have partnered with the nonprofit organization Canopy through their CanopyStyle initiative. You can find our forest fabrics policy here.
We use a mix of vegetable tanned leather, semi-vegetable tanned and chrome tanned leather depending on the application and required finish. Our preference is to work with vegetable tanned leather, which is processed using natural plant tannins and without the use of chromium sulphate salts. Our second preference is to use semi-vegetable tanned leather, which is also tanned using natural plant tannins and chemically finished. All ELK leathers are a by-product of the meat industry and processed without the use of chromium VI.
We choose to use a natural material such as leather for our bags and accessories, rather than synthetic (PU or PVC) materials. This means each component of our bags is either biodegradable (leather and cotton linings) or recyclable (metal components) at the end of their life.
We give preference to leather sourced from tanneries that are audited and rated against the Leather Working Group (LWG) standards. These tanneries have been independently assessed for sustainable business practices, with a focus on environmental performance, chemicals management and hide traceability.
All ELK leather products are manufactured in India. The leathers we use are mainly sourced from Indian tanneries with other supply countries including China, Egypt and Italy.
All timber used in ELK jewellery is made from either mango wood or white wood, grown in the Philippines from sustainably managed plantations. This timber is primarily used in jewellery production and for traditional handicrafts. Natural vegetable dyes are used to achieve the colours for our wood jewellery and each piece is finished with a natural wax polished surface for protection. To learn more about the Go Green plantation timber used for our jewellery visit here.
Our resin is a synthetic polymer resin sourced from Germany. It is non-toxic, contains no acrylic and is distinguished by its durability and longevity. We are currently exploring options to use plant derived bio-resins for our jewellery.
The metal used in ELK jewellery and other products is nickel free and can be recycled through kerbside recycling in many areas, or through specialist metal recyclers.