A product affects the environment throughout its lifecycle – from production, through its years of use, and after it is discarded. Production accounts for the greatest environmental impact during a product’s lifecycle. This is not only the obvious factors, such as the energy and chemicals needed to produce the materials and to manufacture a product, but also transportation between factories and the choice of packaging. During this stage, we can influence a product’s environmental impact through the materials we use and where and in which factory we manufacture the product. Using materials such as recycled polyester or polyamide consumes less energy in production than if we had used new polyester or polyamide. Cotton is a natural material and is not a finite resource, which is positive in comparison to polyester and polyamide. However, the problem with cotton is that its cultivation and processing requires a great deal of water, pesticides and chemicals. We have chosen to only work with organic cotton and, in some products, to entirely replace cotton with Tencel. Tencel is a fibre that is produced from cellulose in a considerably cleaner process, one that requires less energy and water. In spring/summer 2017 we also introduce new products made out of hemp, a material with great environmental aspects and many other advantages. We also make demands on our suppliers as regards the work environment, the use of chemicals, and animal husbandry. These requirements are governed by our chemicals guide and our Code of Conduct. Naturally, we also demand that our down is not plucked from live birds and that the wool we buy is mulesing-free.
Tierra has around 76% of its sewing and 100% of its sales in Europe, so that a finished jacket travels a relatively short distance before reaching its user. However, we also work with long-distance transports. Since it was founded in 1983, Tierra has worked with the world’s foremost fabric suppliers. We purchase fabric from Sweden, the US, Italy, Portugal, Japan, China and Taiwan, and these fabrics must be transported to our factories. Our aim is that all long-distance shipping is done by boat, which is the method with the least environmental impact and is most cost effective. In 2014, around 98.3% of our deliveries from Asia were via boat. We were able to do this thanks to good planning. Our aim is, within five years, to be able to deliver goods straight to our retailers, without intermediate storage in our warehouse; this would contribute to fewer transports and lower costs. Good for you, good for wildlife, good for us.
Regardless of the material we choose, we never cut down on quality. We are extremely proud of how few complaints we receive and our products’ length of life, and we regard these factors as our biggest contribution to reducing environmental impact. We follow a few simple rules when designing and constructing garments:
This philosophy means that we make long-lasting garments, so you don’t need to buy new ones as often. This contributes to reduced environmental impact. A cheap product has the same or more environmental impact during production – and a shorter life. Twice as bad!
You, the user, also has an influence. By looking after your garment, cleaning, mending, reproofing it, etc., you lengthen its life and avoid having to buy a new one. Washing it at a low temperature, or only washing the area that is dirty and airing it instead of putting it through the machine, reduces energy consumption during the garment’s life. Gore-Tex garments benefit from a little heat after washing to reactivate the waterproofing, but a short blast in the dryer is enough and then they can drip dry. No garments cope well with always being tumble dried.
If your Tierra garment breaks, let Marina and Maria in our complaints department have a look at it before you throw it away. We can replace zips, re-tape seams, mend fabric and give your jacket a new life. If nothing else, it will be fine for gardening in for years to come.
However, when you finally tire of your Tierra garment, we would like you to donate it to charity or to someone who needs it. There is often a great deal of functional value left in a garment, even when it’s no longer the hippest thing in Chamonix.
At Tierra, we want to take things further than this, because one day a jacket’s life does come to an end. There are four options when a product’s life is over:
We are working on succeeding with or improving all four points. Some are testing our creativity more than others, making it a joy to cycle to work every day.
Head of Product Development, Tierra