"We see it as our responsibility to work with integrity, transparency and honesty. Our journey is not finite. It will continue on as an ever - changing quest for improvement and reduced impact."
Our Commitment to Transparency
This report details how we operate as a fashion business and highlights our ethical and environmental journey. It looks at our internal operations, our people and the culture that makes ELK a unique Australian brand. It serves as a public statement around our commitment to running a business with transparency, honesty and integrity.
From our founders
In 2014, after visiting one of our suppliers, we started to question the depth of our consciousness. They ran a simple operation with generally good intentions but there were so many things that did not sit well with us. Despite time working with them and challenging them on things such as waste management, material and chemical use amongst other things, they would not and could not see the need for change.
So we moved on and started to rethink about the relationship we have with our entire supply chain and delve into how they run their businesses from tier one to tier four.
We are not following a trend - we are on this journey as much because we want to be, as because we have to be. We are part of a greater movement that will create change. Through demand and awareness we are making waves, shifting conventions and spreading the word that the way we make our products and the way we consume has to change.
We thank you for joining us on our journey, for helping to create the demand that will initiate change, for questioning and sharing and most importantly for caring.
Our Commitment to Transparency
We introduced the first certified organic Fairtrade cotton garments into our Summer 2018 range. Organic cotton is an increasingly used fibre in our collections. We have signed the Responsible Sourcing Network Cotton Pledges, to not knowingly source cotton from Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan due to known human rights issues in these supply chains.
We signed on as members of Sedex & CanopyStyle. Sedex is one of the world's largest collaborative platforms to report on supply chain information. The CanopyStyle initiative is a key commitment to sourcing our man-made cellulosic fibres (MMCFs) responsibly and ensuring our supply chain is free of ancient and endangered forest fibres in line with our Forest Fabrics Policy.
We are incredibly proud that, along with our generous customers, we have raised more than $200,000 for UNICEF since 2011, as a Platinum Champion for Children. We have also partnered with Guide Dogs Australia, Sleepbus and Boomerang Bags amongst many others.
We have eliminated plastic wrap from our business and replaced it with paper-based options. We have avoided using 15000+ mailing satchels per year with redesigned online order cartons and Better Packaging Co compostable corn starch satchels. Our poly bag consumption has been reduced around 70% per garment by roll packing.
By defining what we consider to be a living wage and publishing our tier 1 supplier list, we have taken the first credible steps towards ensuring a living wage is paid.
Our ethical & environmental mission
To create products responsibly that are good for people and our planet. To support traditional trades and a circular economy whilst ensuring the creation of safe, fair and inclusive work. To operate ethically and transparently, minimise our environmental footprint and promote positive social practices.
ELK will operate with the smallest environmental footprint possible, and become a carbon neutral and zero-waste business.
All ELK products will be made with recycled or certified sustainable materials, with full supply chain traceability and total consideration for reducing production waste and end-of-use impacts.
ELK will continue to give back to local and global communities and create positive change by increasing our support of not-for-profit organisations and local community groups.
All ELK suppliers will have credible social and environmental certifications, be fully compliant with the ELK Supplier Code of Conduct and operate ethically and transparently.
The greatest environmental impact of our business comes from our products: the way we design; the materials we choose; the methods we use for production; how we care for them; and then what we are left with.
With a commitment to reduce our footprint, a key focus is on improving products though our material selection. The challenge is to lessen our environmental impact while maintaining quality, wearability and appearance at a price point that is accessible.
Find out more about our Animal Welfare and Chemical policies in our full report from page 72 here.
* This makes up 93% of our material consumption. This figure is based on unit purchases, product weight and composition. Where data was not available, we have used averages to calculate as accurately as possible.
The principals of circular design aims to close the loop on traditional linear fashion production models ensuring responsible environmental practices from design right through to next use. Our approach is to create quality products, timeless designs, to repair when needed, re-home, upcycle and finally recycle.
A Global Family
We are committed to mapping our supply chain and to tracing our fibres and materials right back to their origin, ensuring that our products are made responsibly, with regard for workers, animals and the environment.
We have an incredible relationship with all of our suppliers and are actively seeking out new suppliers that share our values. We have also commenced conversations with some new, inspiring factories and look forward to seeing their products hit the market in 2019/20.
Each one of our suppliers is at a different stage of their sustainability journey, with some just beginning the process and a handful at the other end showing real innovation and leadership. We have an extensive supplier code of conduct which all of our core suppliers have signed. For any areas of non-compliance, our approach is to work with our suppliers on improving their processes, rather than just exiting, as this provides the best outcome for workers and the environment.
We want to share the stories of our makers and their positive practices, as well as the areas we are working to improve.
Learn more about our suppliers from page 104 in our full report here.
Supplier code of conduct
All suppliers that provide ELK with product must agree to and sign our Supplier Code of Conduct and undergo periodic, independent social compliance audits to ensure our standards are being met. This is based on the principles outlined in the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Base Code.
Learn more from page 100 in our full report here.
Key requirements include:
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
The seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015. They represent an urgent call to action and provide a blueprint for ending poverty, improving health and education, addressing inequality, sustainable economic growth, tackling climate change and preserving our oceans and forests. Achieving the SDGs requires action from everyone, including governments, business, civil society and individuals.
We recognise the contribution that ELK and more significantly the entire fashion industry can make towards achieving these goals. We must move quickly for these goals to be met by 2030. We have aligned our strategy to ensure we are supporting these collective goals.
Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all
As part of our philosophy to ensure our business has a positive social impact, we have partnered with some inspirational local and international organisations. The charities we work with support women, children, families, communities and the environment.
- Guide Dogs
- Sleep Bus
- Fitted for Work
- Take 3
- Food Share
Our Carbon Footprint
Everything we do and everything we make leaves an environmental footprint. It impacts communities, people and the natural world. We are committed to reducing this footprint and through setting targets and measuring our progress, we will be accountable. We are offsetting our emissions through the Carbon Reduction Institute. It is not a short term plan, this is forever. We are redesigning a fashion business for the future.
Learn more about our suppliers from page 74 in our full report here.
From our Ethics & Sustainability Coordinator
The evidence is clear. The fashion industry in its current format is not sustainable. Textile production significantly contributes to climate change, consumes large volumes of water, and creates pollution with devastating impacts on local ecosystems and communities.
Clothes are worn very few times on average, before they end up landfill. The industry employs hundreds of millions of people around the globe, but many do this work in unsafe environments for low wages with little or no protection or representation.
"Business as usual is not an option if we want to address these significant social and environmental challenges. And we need to act quickly."- Erika Martin
At ELK we are focusing on our biggest impacts and implementing initiatives where we have the greatest ability to make change and this requires a redesign of our entire business, and new ways of thinking.
As a family owned and operated business with a team of 86. There is a great respect for all persons who work within and for the business. People are at the heart of every decision.
We are proud to have a strong representation of female employees through every level of our company. We are a flexible workplace, with over 30% of permanent staff working part-time providing flexibility to care for family, undertake volunteer work, to pursue studies, creative passions and other interests.
Packaging plays an important role in protecting our product during transport and reducing product waste through damage. We recognise it has a major impact on our environment.
We are working hard to minimise this impact by reducing and reusing packaging where possible, and increasing and investing in using materials that are renewable, recycled, recyclable, compostable and sustainably certified.
We have already made some great changes and our focus is to continue removing plastic packaging from our entire supply chain.