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Switch to plastic free workwear: up your corporate responsibility

Ann Dowdeswell, sales and marketing director at Jermyn Street Design, a global specialist in corporate clothing, takes a look at how you can reduce your business’ environmental impact through opting for sustainable uniforms, whilst gaining more positive brand awareness, increasing your employee satisfaction rate and cutting costs in the long run.

Eco friendly uniforms aim to reduce the use of plastic and cause less harm to the environment. We are seeing more and more employers make this ethical choice for their businesses and offer sustainable workwear to their employees.

With sustainable workwear having more durability and an extended lifespan without jeopardising the design and comfort of the garment, there is even more reasons to make the switch.

Many of our clothes contain plastics, such as polystyrene, polyethylene, and nylon. Throughout the lifetime of a garment, it sheds tiny plastic particles known as plastic microfibres, especially when it is washed.

Unfortunately, these plastic microfibres aren’t biodegradable and can’t be recycled. This makes them extremely dangerous to both the planet and us, as they can easily enter the environment and harm marine life and our entire food system.

According to Friends of the Earth, the UK generates around 4000 tonnes of plastic microfibre every year from washing clothes. Some 1600 tonnes of those can end up in our bodies of water. To put this in perspective, up to 17 million microplastic fibres can be shed during one washing load of clothes.

That is why it is important to reduce the use of plastic through sustainable workwear. There are two ways you can do that.

Reducing plastic in production: opt for sustainable fabrics

Reducing plastic in workwear starts at the production level. One way your company can showcase environmental awareness is by opting for uniforms made from sustainable fabrics. Organic linen, cotton, and wool, for example, are made from 100% natural materials, and they are extremely durable, recyclable, and biodegradable.

Did you know that a linen shirt uses only 6.4 litres of water across its lifecycle? Moreover, it is a no-waste production method, as every bit of the flax plant is utilised. We are all familiar with the amazing benefits of linseed oil, for example.

Another great alternative to synthetic fabrics is the use of materials made from recycled plastic bottles or recycled yarn. That way, you are also eliminating some of the plastic that is harming the environment.

So how many plastic bottles would go into the production of a standard dress, which is made from Recycled Polyester Taffeta 300T? It is calculated that a full 150 metre long roll contains 471.65 two litre recycled plastic soda bottles. That means that one metre of fabric contains 3.14 two litre soda bottles. If a standard collar to ankle dress uses four metres of fabric, it will require 12.56 two litre recycled plastic soda bottles to be made.

Clamping down on single use plastic packaging

Alongside the heavy use of plastic in clothing manufacturing, it also finds its place in a lot of packaging. According to the Pitney Bowes Shipping Index, over 130 billion packages are shipped yearly across 13 major global markets, and most of them are encased in plastic packaging. That figure is estimated to double by 2060.

Thankfully, the UK has introduced a plastic packaging tax from 01 April 2022, which will apply to plastic packaging that isn’t made from at least 30% recycled plastic. This will promote the production of sustainable packaging, which is an essential feature to look out for when sourcing workwear for your business.

Today, we are all well aware of the negative impact of plastic packaging, and we are all committed to eliminating single use plastic as much as we can. At Jermyn Street Design, we use recycled, recyclable, or compostable packaging when shipping our products. In order to combat the higher distribution costs associated with eco friendly packaging, we have streamlined our deliveries. We have even created a custom method of packaging shirts that eliminates all the plastic clips and collar stays that are traditionally used.

The use of plastic in workwear is only one aspect where you can make a positive environmental impact. Others include supporting ethical production and minimising labour exploitation.

Eco friendly uniforms are the future of business, and it is worth jumping on the sustainability wagon as soon as possible.

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