Supporting sustainability in… China!

By Supporting New initiatives we can Impact Change

Did you know that China has made a pledge to be carbon neutral by 2060?  That may seem a long way away, but it stands to reason that the biggest economy in the world may need a little more time than smaller nations.  That said, China has already lowered its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by over 48 percent from the 2005 level by the end of 2019, and has already met and exceeded the 2020 climate action target. (1)

The commitments to climate neutrality made by China’s leader Xi Jinping, are practical, based on past experiences and within China’s capabilities. “Humankind can no longer afford to ignore the repeated warnings of nature,” Mr. Xi said.  (2)

The great news is, there are already businesses working in China that are trailblazing this new ideal. Take Jewels and Aces, an ethical and sustainable fine jewellery brand, working only with recycled gold and silver and lab grown stones. The processes they use in Shenzhen are environmentally conscious with waste water treatment facilities and traceability.

Hemp Fortex, a textiles manufacturer producing sustainable fabrics such as hemp, Tencel and organic cotton. Hemp Fortex implemented clean renewable energy across all of their facilities and produce 70%-100% of their electricity on site through solar panels. They are conscious of water usage and use only EU approved dyes and chemicals.

Sustainability is also important to the evolution of luxury accessories, and this is where Veshin comes in. A ground-breaking, progressive thinking, factory in Guangzhou, China. Veshin is a one of a kind factory that is trail-blazing and setting new standards in the world of ethical, cruelty-free and plant-based production.

Founder and co-owner Joey Pringle, originally from Hertfordshire in England, has a vision to transform the current leather goods factory into a 100% plant-based operation within three years, phasing out all animal leather based activity and replacing it with innovative and ethical new future materials.

Not only this, but Joey is on a mission to become the greenest factory in the world, working with complete transparency and exclusively with brands who share Veshin’s values.

 

Executive director Xiao with co-owners Joey and Hongliang.

 

Based in Guangzhou in the Baiyun District of China, the factory produces luxury leather items for big name brands including Lulu Guinness, Parisa Wang, Cult Gaia and Apede Mod, but under Joey’s direction they are looking to the future and focused on the green and ethical needs of the fashion industry, providing far more than just a tick-box approach to sustainability and social compliance.

Instead, the team at Veshin will go above and beyond to help their partners produce the most eco-friendly and sustainable products.  Their approach includes access to and development of the most ecological raw materials such as organic cotton canvas, hemp, cork, and recycled polyesters and nylons. As well as embracing future fabrics such as pineapple-derived Pinatex, apple leather made from – you guessed it – apples, bloom foam, a padding derived from pond algae and cactus leather.

 

Staff hard at work in the factory.

 

As well as sourcing, the factory also works with its partners in design and development and production, and their highly skilled workforce is a happy one too, with wellness and meditation embedded in the factory culture, along with planted vegetable gardens, ping pong tables and basketball hoops!

Veshin will be giving back too, supporting aligned charities, foundations and NGOS, and engaging in community and environmental activities such as beach clean-ups and tree-planting.

At Watson & Wolfe we feel it is incredibly important that vegan brands support initiatives like this one, and even more so on a continent which is traditionally associated with unethical and damaging mass production.  There is currently nothing comparable with what the Veshin factory is looking to achieve. The plan for Veshin is to expand into other continents too, reducing the carbon footprint for brands like ours using the factory from the west.

We have already begun to introduce Veshin to our small group of factories, so we can be part of growing a successful Vegan factory in China, opening up the conversation, and raising awareness that this type of approach to manufacturing is the future. 

Collectively we are more powerful, and taking China from being the one of the most polluting continents on the planet, to the most sustainable, is an incredible opportunity for us all.

Already this year we have trialed the process of working with a factory so far away and the impact it would have on our supply chain. And more exciting that than… we got to use Cactus leather for the first time.

 

(1) Global Times

(2) China’s Pledge to Be Carbon Neutral by 2060: What It Means

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