Business Sustainability Update
I have always strived to lead and make decisions for Merry People based on our values of Happiness, Kindness, Authenticity, and Adventure.
When I first started Merry People, I wanted to create a long lasting, high quality, fashionable product that also kept my feet warm and dry. At the time (as a sole operator), I wanted to make a product with natural rubber and not PVC plastics. I didn't want to over-produce or have products end up in landfill, and I wanted to make sure the people making my product were treated well and paid fairly. (We ensure our factories are audited and are paid a living wage at a minimum.)
Today, as the scale of Merry People has grown, I want to take further steps to improve how we do business. However, identifying exactly what the right next steps to take has at times been challenging.
I found myself asking questions like: is recycled rubber actually a better solution if the compound has ingredients that are not great for the environment? Will a recycled rubber product last longer than a virgin rubber product? And what is the impact of shipping certified materials from one country to another for production?
I don’t want to make decisions because they sound appealing for “marketing purposes”, or to “tick a box”, I genuinely want to reduce our impact on the world.
I decided that I needed help! Last year, I brought on a board member, who has worked in the sustainability space for most of his career at a global footwear brand and now lectures at a prominent US university teaching sustainability in footwear and apparel.
Our new board member has been mentoring me and my team on this journey. As a starting point, he suggested I establish a sustainability statement - a statement on why this endeavor matters to me. I came up with the below:
“My business objective is to create a more merry world. I want to leave a positive impact on our people, customers and suppliers - but also the earth that our boots are made to explore.”
This statement has and will continue to be my north star as we start this new adventure.
I am so excited to start this new adventure, to learn and improve how I do business. If you have any further specific questions, please send to email@example.com, as I am happy to share more where I can.
We will also share our initiatives as they are implemented - on our website and directly to our email subscribers. I will provide another formal update towards the end of 2023.
Dani Pearce - Founder
Knowledge: I have sought industry expert consultants to help guide us on this pathway, including our new board member (as mentioned above), and a highly experienced chemical engineer in New Zealand to help navigate us with interpreting chemical testing results, and to understand the optimal compound mixes and viable alternatives.
Packaging: Our packaging is currently made from 80% recycled fibre and 20% virgin (new) materials to give the strength we need to ship the boots (and it is fully recyclable).
We are currently investigating using certified Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and FSC mixed (recycled and mixed ) fibre to replace all the virgin content in our packaging on our inner boxes and tissue paper. This means that all the paper we use on and in our shoe boxes would come from paper that we can certify is from controlled FSC legislated plantations and from already recycled pulp. (If you are not familiar with FSC, you can read more about FSC here).
Rubber: We currently use virgin (new) rubber for our product. We are in the process of testing 100% recycled rubber and FSC rubber on our product. We will be undertaking all our normal testing to ensure the product can still deliver on our design and performance expectations.
Linings: We currently use a virgin (new) neoprene for the lining of our product. We are also investigating other neoprene alternatives and they will undergo testing.
Insole: We are currently using EVA (Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate) and we are testing and exploring options of recycled or sustainable materials that can also give an improved wearing experience.
End of life: In 2022 we donated 700 pairs of boots to the northern rivers during the floods and 700 boots to Thread Together to flood affected areas. We continue to only order what we think we will sell and never discount our products and promote conscious shopping. We are investigating and testing other options to recycle the products our customers wear once they are finished wearing them.
Design intentions: Our intentions are always to make; quality, considered and useful products that can be wardrobe staples - never to produce gimmick fast disposable fashion.
Goals for 2023 and beyond!
- We will be commencing a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of our Bobbi boot. An LCA is a detailed process done by an authorised third party that looks into every process step of the product from raw material creation to end of life (when the customer is finished with the boots.) You can read more about an LCA here.
- We hope to have an LCA completed by the end of 2023. The cost will be significant for us as a smaller business and changes to materials may result in a higher price of our products.
- To communicate and inform our customers on the outcomes we wish to implement and the rationale behind decision making.
You may have noticed that I have not committed to any specific dates here. What I have found through this process is that meaningful progress takes significantly longer to investigate, analyse & test than initially anticipated.
I look forward to taking you on this journey with us and hope we can continue to grow as a brand that makes the world a merry place.