Organic cotton is better for the producers and the ecosystem in which it is produced. Instead of more toxic pesticides and fertilisers, co planting and insect traps are used along with the special ingredient - cow poo. It encourages biodiversity and leads to the extra soft feel of our products.
Less inputs also means less water, but even organic cotton is still a thirsty crop. The fields that grow the organic cotton for our products are in the North of India, where the monsoons fill reservoirs that supply almost all the water needed.
Organic Cotton farmer
Organic cotton looks like a little bit of cotton wool bursting from a dry flower. The petals and seeds need to be removed before it can be spun. The gathered bolls of organic cotton are trucked from the farms to the ginning house where they are separated out into the useful fibres which are sent to be spun. The waste seeds are pressed into cakes which is used for cow feed and vegetable oil recovered is used for food products.
Cotton farmers get a price for their cotton which is guaranteed by the government. Great quality batches get higher prices as ginners compete for the best stuff.
Our products are made in a factory where the spinning, dye, weaving, cut and sew are integrated. Vertical integration leads to cost savings which can be reinvested in the facilities and people, and as the product doesn't travel between suppliers the quality is outstanding.
This factory is audited for a wide range of social and sustainability criteria as one of the leading socially-responsible manufacturers in India. The plant is powered entirely by renewable energy.
Collar Knitting Specialist
Wastewater from dyehouse effluent is a major source of pollution in the clothing industry. Our products are dyed in a recirculation system where waste water is settled, filtered and then cleaned to be used again. After settling and skimming the water is filtered in the most active part of the process, reverse osmosis. This is basically sucking up water through really fine sand over and over.
At the end, the water coming out of the filters is crystal clear - and rather than be poured away, it is then used at the input for the next batch. It is a closed loop.
We ship our products by sea freight. We designed our supply chain to have rapid, real time printing in the UK and so we order products blank, without a print. We now use AI to help us with forecasting and ordering. All this means we don't need to rush stuff around by air freight.
It takes around 10 weeks on the water for our products to arrive, but we are still almost always in stock.
Throughout our supply chain renewable energy is used. In the UK we own a solar farm and power our entire manufacturing operations with renewables. In India, the factory owns two wind farms and a 150kw PV array.
Within our factory we use machine-to-machine communications technology which allows us to dynamically turn equipment on and off only when it is needed.
Teemill Power Station
Currently exporting 4,993W
We develop technology at our factory to improve all aspects of t-shirt printing. This includes working on lower impact chemicals, software, machinery and automation technologies. It enables us to make products in real time - we only make products after they have been ordered. We share the benefits of this technology free with startups and charities at Teemill.com
The efficiency and productivity gains from our tech balances the cost of more sustainable materials. Tech is how we make all this affordable. It also means we can invest more in our team. Our vocational training programs have helped over 40 young people on the Isle of Wight get into full time work.
By 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. This is bad. We used to use a type of plant based polymer made from sugar cane, but we're phasing these out with a redesigned rip and splash-proof mailer bag made out of paper. Big orders come in boxes, with paper-based tape.
Over 90% of orders go out the same working day and depending on the delivery method, your items can be with you tomorrow. We ship all over the world from our base camp in Freshwater, Isle of Wight - about half a mile from some of the best surf in the UK.
If you have already placed an order, and you're here to check it's status, you can track it here.
Lots of work has already gone in to engineering better solutions to improve longevity and lower the impact across the supply chain, but the life cycle is only really getting started.
About 70% of the carbon emissions from a t-shirt happen during the in-use phase, which to us non-scientists means washing and drying.
That's why we ask our customers to wash cool and hang dry. You don't have to, but it makes a surprisingly large difference when you study the whole life cycle.
99% of textiles products end up in landfill. Making products that last a long time, maybe even a life time, is important to us. But we still ask what happens after that? Making things that are lower impact slows waste and it's consequences down, but it doesn't change the system.
If we could make new products from old products, there would be no waste.
This idea is called a circular economy, and we're working on new fibres made from our old t-shirts. You can send your old Rapanui t-shirts backtorapanui.com and we will exchange the material for store credit.