Sustainability and production of items
When we talk about sustainability, we usually concern ourselves with the materials used. Naturally, those are extremely important, because the way in which those materials grow (in the case of natural sources, as with many textiles) and processed, are important steps in determining sustainability. If a lot of insecticides are used during the growth of the materials, such as with regular, non-sustainable cotton, you are starting off on a bad foot.
Subsequently, the way in which materials are processed largely determines their sustainability. If chemicals are used during this processing, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but you do have to be careful. Are those chemicals recycled, for example? What happens to the chemicals if no recycling takes place? If this is simply discharged, or is dumped in a place that is not intended for that purpose and is not processed into a non-harmful substance, it can cause damage to the environment.
Transparency and inspection
The above are the most obvious elements of the sustainability discussion. And that's not all of it, because who checks all this? Government authorities and the rules of a country are of decisive importance in these checks. Some countries take sustainability and compliance with regulations more seriously than others. And some countries are more transparent when it comes to compliance checks, such as the desired checks by buyers or certification bodies, than others.
Working conditions play an important role. Because what good is sustainability if working conditions are appalling. Working conditions is always a difficult discussion, because Western countries are quick to impose their own production standards on other countries. But that's not entirely fair and amounts to comparing apples to oranges. You simply cannot impose standards on other countries in one go, which the Western countries themselves have taken decades, sometimes more than a hundred years. As a Western buyer, you will have to give the producing countries time to continuously improve working conditions. But of course there are issues that Western countries can never be tolerant about and can never accept, the so-called lower limits, such as child labour.
And now that we have touched upon the working conditions, another sustainability aspect comes into play. Transport. If items are shipped from one side of the world to the other to be dropped off on the consumer's doorstep, that is far from sustainable. It is well-known that one container ship is often as polluting as tens of thousands of cars.
All of these points were reasons for Undiemeister® not to have the items produced in East Asia, in countries such as China, Pakistan or Bangladesh. At the same time, as a textile brand, our choices are limited. It's not like we can choose the countries where textiles are produced. It is simply the case that only a handful of countries in the world have devoted themselves to the production of textiles and others have not. The search is therefore limited to those countries, and you must then check whether it is possible to have your items made there.
In addition to sustainability requirements, other factors also play a role, such as the quality of the production, which must correspond to the quality that you, as a textile brand, have in mind. In addition, the production volume, the delivery times and of course the purchase price also play a role.
Turkey and Portugal
If you want to have the items made in as close proximity as possible to your Western market, with requirements for transparency with regard to sustainability and working conditions, there are really only two countries left in Europe: Turkey and Portugal. Undiemeister® did research into both countries and came to the conclusion that Portugal is not really a country that is geared towards underwear in terms of production. It is true that Portugal produces items of very high quality, but they focus more on above the waist fashion, bed linen and bath linen. Moreover, Turkey is a country that has made great strides in recent years in the field of sustainability and working conditions and is also a country that is easily accessible from Western Europe for an inspection, for example.
It's all about the production location
There are, of course, differences within a country. Some factories are better than others. Within Turkey there are many choices, which makes the country ideal to choose the exact location that meets all of your requirements. And as you may know, Undiemeister® sets quite a few requirements when it comes to sustainability and working conditions. Undiemeister® works with the very best manufacturers, all modern locations, equipped with the very latest and clean technology with working conditions that are certainly at a high level for textile production locations and are all certified.