In the first part to answer the question “What is the most sustainable T-shirt?” we have already established that a newly produced T-shirt cannot, in principle, be completely sustainable. However, we firmly believe that there are important aspects that can be drawn on to produce a more sustainable product: A holistic approach from raw material to the end of the use phase is crucial, with the choice of raw materials, the production processes and transparency across the whole Value chain are of central importance.
In the case of the LEGNA t-shirt, we have therefore paid great attention to all these aspects in order to keep our impact on the environment as low as possible, while always focusing on quality and comfort.
The following explanations should therefore show in more detail how we have made our decisions from a purely sustainability perspective and what guides us in doing so.
The raw materials
We select raw materials according to their ecological impact, which we base as far as possible on life cycle analyzes: We do not use any conventional synthetic materials (new or recycled) due to the microplastic pollution; Cotton is only used after thorough research according to our own specific criteria; animal materials only if they are recycled and are of Swiss origin (Swiss wool, Swiss deerskin).
In the case of the LEGNA T-shirt, we didn’t just choose our wood-based fibers because this particular material has a drastically lower environmental impact than, for example, conventional cotton (see Higg index and below). We also chose this great material because we want to show that there are many exciting alternatives to cotton and synthetics and that this is just the beginning of our search for alternative, sustainable solutions.
So why do we believe our raw material choices are responsible, sustainable choices?
- The wood comes from sustainable forestry, is of organic origin and the resulting fibers are biodegradable
- The manufacturing process for fibers takes place in closed cycles, where over 99% of the solvents can be used over and over again
- Our wood fibers compared to conventional cotton:
- Up to 70% less space required in cultivation
- Up to 20 times less water consumption
- Very high dyeing efficiency: requires half the amount of dye and energy consumption to achieve the same shade
- Very low bleaching requirements
We consider the entire value chain, from raw materials to fiber production, spinning, weaving, dyeing and finishing to finishing, and we are happy to inform our customers about every single detail if they are interested.
In the case of the LEGNA t-shirt, we not only know and communicate where the end product was made (“made in”), but we try to inform the consumer about the overall picture of textile production, such as in the next section.
Optimizing the supply chain
Optimizing along the entire supply chain is very difficult and involves a lot of effort, but we are convinced that it is worth it. We have set up our entire supply chain in Europe, not only to optimize transport routes and logistics, but above all because it enables us to better control and monitor each individual production step. For example, when we decided on a suitable T-shirt fabric, our next step was not to find the cheapest sewing shop, but to work with a partner who meets our strict environmental criteria, produces according to our high quality standards and – most importantly – is – fits into our history and the rest of the supply chain.
That is why our fibers for the LEGNA T-shirt are made in Austria with wood from Europe and South Africa. They are then shipped to Portugal, where they are spun into yarn, knitted into fabric, and then dyed and finished – all by one and the same company. From there, the finished fabric is transported by truck to our production facility, which is less than an hour away from fabric production. With the exception of the wood, the fibers and the sewing thread, all other main production steps are therefore carried out within a radius of less than 100 km in Portugal before the finished T-shirts are shipped to Switzerland and sent to our customers.
We strive to select production partners at all stages of the supply chain who offer fair working conditions. Although it can be assumed that the social standards at our production sites in EU countries are generally quite high, we try to do further research and prioritize those who have more detailed evidence of compliance with the standards, and we are doing everything we can to to visit each and every one of them personally.
A large part of the environmental impact of a garment (around 30% – see e.g. here) is due to wet processes, dyeing and finishing. There are interesting innovations with natural dyes, waterless dyeing, etc., but most of them are not yet commercially available or fully applicable, especially with natural-based fibers. Although we attach great importance to this topic, we had to choose the most sustainable option currently available, i.e. we have relied on the highest possible environmental standards that are currently commercially available (GOTS and Bluesign certified dyeing, dyed and finished according to Bluesign and OekoTex Standards) to ensure a high quality and durable product while trying to avoid unnecessary environmental pollution. Nevertheless, we will not stop researching for better solutions and developing prototypes and we are always open to cooperation and suggestions for improvement.
Development for circularity
The buzzword circularity is a tough nut to crack, and we wouldn’t dare say we are (already) completely circular. What we have made sure, however, is that our sustainable t-shirts will not leave any harmful substances in the environment should it ever reach the end of its life. Our t-shirt is designed to be fully recyclable as it is made from 100% the same material. So we made sure not to use blended fabrics and avoid unnecessary chemicals, plastics, etc., so our t-shirts are potentially biodegradable. The latter does not mean that the product should be buried in the garden or mixed with leftover food, but that it should be returned to us. We know how and where we can safely feed it into a recycling loop or dispose of it.
Compliance with all of these criteria – especially along the entire value chain – is extremely complex and requires extensive development and research work. That may be why we’re much slower than other companies when it comes to developing new products, but we don’t want to have to compromise when it comes to product performance and sustainability.
If you have any suggestions, suggestions or suggestions for improvement, please do not hesitate to to contact us. We always want to learn and take our products to the next level.