Sustainability| 3 min read

Let’s Get Transparent: Animal Welfare And Fashion

We chat about vegan and sustainable fashion, and what we're doing at tentree.
WRITTEN BY Tayllor Henczel

An Oxford study estimated that the adoption of Veganuary in the UK alone would prevent 41,200 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere (that’s the same as 450,000 flights from London to Berlin), 650 tonnes of sewage from entering waterways, and save 2.5 million liters of water, the equivalent of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. And that’s just from 31 days of eating plants!

Going plant based with our diet has been cited as the single biggest way for us to cut down on our carbon footprint — by 73%!

While the environmental effects of choosing plants over meat are obvious, what is the effect of going vegan in our clothing choices?

The demand for vegan fashion is only growing, as veganism becomes more culturally mainstream and the demand for ethical and sustainable businesses grow. Animal-free fashion materials continue to become more readily available, with vegan leather and fur, and silk substitutes being mass produced and used by big brands as alternatives to animal-based materials.

While using animal-free materials certainly saves the lives of animals, when it comes to clothes veganism isn’t always as environmentally friendly as it seems.

The production of vegan-based fashion materials can cause just as much environmental damage as their traditional competitors.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is commonly used as an affordable vegan leather option. While it’s not an animal product, it’s a toxic, plastic-based material derived from petroleum feedback.

Synthetic-based insulation is typically used to replace duck or goose down, but these are generally oil-based and can cause other environmental issues, like releasing micro plastics.

When you take a look at non-organic cotton clothing production, it takes 2,700 litres of water to make one t-shirt. That’s enough water for you to stay hydrated for two years.

While we understand that this is a hotly debated topic, we believe that opting for animal-friendly clothing options is a small step in a much larger goal of creating sustainable clothing that does better by our planet.

What We’re Doing At tentree

While we don’t characterize ourselves as a “vegan” brand, the majority of our products would generally be considered “vegan-friendly” since we use organic, plant-based or recycled materials. When it comes to what materials we source and use in our designs, we have an internal mandate to not use leather, down, silk or any other material that may cause sustainability or ethical issues when it comes to sourcing.

Wool is the only material we use that isn’t considered vegan. Where we use wool, we make sure that our wool is sourced from farms that do not practice mulesing, a highly controversial practice. As of Fall 2020, the few wool products we do produce are RWS certified.

RWS, or Responsible Wool Standard, is an industry tool designed to recognize the best practices of farmers, ensuring that wool comes from farms with a progressive approach to managing their land, and from sheep that have been treated responsibly. The key elements that RWS accounts for are:

  • Protecting Animal Welfare
  • Preserving Land Health
  • Chain of Custody
  • Credible Certification
  • Confident Communication
  • Stakeholder Engagement

If you’re interested in taking a deep dive into RWS, check out this resource.

PS: did you know that we’ve won an award for our innovation in sustainable materials? We were the recipients of the 2020 drirelease® Innovation Award, given to companies who create eco-friendly solutions in performance apparel.

Continually Seeking Improvement

We know there are always areas that we can improve our commitment to being Earth-First. When looking at our sustainability journey, getting the Regenerative Organic Certification is our aspirational goal for all our nature-based fibres and materials.

What is the Regenerative Organic Standard initiative? Robert Rodale — an American adherent of organic farming, regenerative agriculture and gardening, and a publisher — coined the term “regenerative organic” to describe a holistic approach to farming that encourages continuous innovation and improvement of environmental, social, and economic measures.

It means the actual farming activity not only adheres to strict environmental and ethical standards, but it’s done in a way that’s regenerative for the earth. In other words, it gives back to the planet more than it takes.

We’re also looking at options for using recycled wool, and have sourced a ground-breaking sustainable, plant-based insulation for our upcoming Fall and Winter collections. We can’t wait to share it with you!


Want to learn more about our commitment to sustainable practices and ethical manufacturing? We’ve got you covered.


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