Sanctuary Innerwear's Science Based Targets for Nature
In December, 2022, I had the privilege of attending COP15: The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal.
It was inspiring to listen to people from all over the world speak about taking more responsibility for preserving nature.
Although I use one of the best fabrics known and avoid chemicals in all my processes, I committed to finding ways to do better. At the conference, I recorded this clip:
Beginning now (January 2023), I will take action to accomplish the following targets to positively affect nature through my business Sanctuary Innerwear:
The Consumer Discretionary/Retail Sector’s impacts on nature: The clothing industry, the system in which Sanctuary Innerwear is embedded, impacts and depends on nature at a global scale. A materiality assessment of the sector here (see pg 15 for chart) indicates that the Consumer Discretionary/Retail sector has:
a very high (5) impact on GHG emissions in the upstream sphere,
a high (4) impact on solid waste in the operations sphere,
a medium (3) impact on water use, non-GHG air pollutants, and water pollutants in the operations sphere, and
medium (3) impact on terrestrial ecosystem use, freshwater ecosystem use, marine ecosystem use, water use, non-GHG air pollutants, water pollutants, soil pollutants, solid waste and invasive species disturbance.
-from Science Based Targets Network, Global Commons Alliance, September 2020 We can see a host of negative contributions toward the state of nature in this assessment.
Sanctuary Innerwear’s impacts on nature at specific spheres of influence:
pollution of air: burning of propane gas (negative, operations), release of plastic microfibres due to spandex (very negative, downstream);
pollution of water: use of thiourea dioxide in indigo and woad dye vats (negative, but moving to neutral through the use of organic and fermented vats, operations);
pollution of soil: regeneration of soil, planting of biomass, regenerative gardening practices (positive, operations); use of spandex in fabric (negative, downstream);
fragmentation or disruption of ecosystems and habitats for non-human species: none, as eucalyptus trees are pfsc certified farmed (upstream);
alteration of ecosystem regimes: neutral (operations, downstream).
Sanctuary Innerwear’s dependencies on nature and the sphere:
water flow and quality regulation: water is taken from our well and rainwater (operations), Lenzing uses water in the fibre manufacture system (upstream);
regulation of hazards like fires and floods: no dependencies; droughts occur with few regulating measures (operations);
pollination: it is necessary from flowering plants to be pollinated to produce their colours, i.e., goldenrod(operations);
carbon sequestration: it is necessary for soil to regenerate and for photosynthesis to occur for herbs and dye plants (operations); Lenzing grows eucalyptus (upstream); composting my clothing helps soil (downstream).
The environmental footprint of Sanctuary Innerwear is negative in its use of propane, microfibers and thiox. It is positive in soil regeneration, and neutral in other areas such as ecosystem use.
2. INTERPRET & PRIORITIZE Since I do most of the steps in manufacturing my product, I have the most influence over the Operations sphere of influence. I can also influence the downstream users of my products, and the public in general. I have little influence over the upstream players, and I rely on Lenzing to continue providing leadership in this area.
Steps I have already begun taking and will continue to take at the operations level:
Experiment with organic indigo and woad vats,
reduce the ratio of spandex in the fabric I order from swatchon from 8% to 4%,
take steps toward regenerating the ecosystem where my dyes and herbs are grown, including soil amendment using a no-till approach.
Steps I can begin taking in order of priority:
take further steps toward regenerating the ecosystem where my dyes and herbs are grown to include soil amendment and agroecology, biochar, vermiculture, planting indigenous species, combating species extinction by creating habitats for birds, bugs and other creatures, and
research alternative sources of heat including solar.
3. MEASURE, SET, & DISCLOSE Organic Vat Target SDG #12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production (prevent or minimize the generation of hazardous wastes as part of an overall integrated cleaner production approach) Baseline description: I currently use thiox in approximately 50% of my dye vats. Monitoring plan: I will use a dye diary to monitor the use of thiox vs organic vats starting this spring.
SANCTUARY INNERWEAR'S TARGETS: I will eliminate the use of thiox in my indigo vats by January, 2024. I will reduce the use of thiox in my woad vats by 50% by January, 2024.
Spandex Use Target SDG #14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Baseline description: I am currently using Lenzing Tencel fabric with 8% spandex in my lingerie from swatchon. Monitoring plan: I will monitor my purchases in my swatchon order history
SANCTUARY INNERWEAR'S TARGET: I will reduce the ratio of spandex in my fabric by 50% by the end of 2023.
Ecosystem Targets SDG #15 Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
A) Soil Improvement Target Baseline description: Canada’s boreal forest soil, plants, and wetlands hold more than 12% of the world’s land-based carbon stock, the equivalent of more than 35 years of CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels. The diverse boreal landscape supports about two-thirds of Canada’s known species and provides nesting and breeding habitat for about half of Canada’s bird species, including up to 3 billion migrating birds each year. - https://naturecanada.ca/defend-nature/how-you-help-us-take-action/nature-based-climate-solutions/toolkit/forests/? The agriculture sector in Canada is responsible for 12% of GHG emissions. -https://naturecanada.ca/defend-nature/how-you-help-us-take-action/nature-based-climate-solutions/toolkit/agriculture/?
The land where I grow the dye plants and herbs for Sanctuary Innerwear is a mixture of forest and farmland. Our soil is predominantly sand and over the years we have amended it with compost and manure (purchased or taken from nearby cow and goat pastures). As soon as the frost clears, I will get the soil tested in 4 different locations to get baseline measurements of biomass to mineral. Last spring, I covered all gardens with layers of ash, grass clippings, newspaper and woodchips and practice a no-till approach to keep soil disturbances to the minimum. I will evaluate the effectiveness of this method by assessing the soil using the VESS method in the spring.
Monitoring plan: Soil improvement: Use VESS method once a month throughout summer; Test again in fall and next spring.
SANCTUARY INNERWEAR'S TARGET: The amount of biomass in my garden soil will increase by 50% in the next 3 years.
B) Combating Species Extinction Target Baseline description: Currently, we have noted 30 different species of birds using the Merlin Bird ID app. This past summer, we noted 4 sightings of monarch butterflies. We have Echinacea growing, but no other species on the United Plant Savers’ medicinal plants at risk list.
Monitoring plan: Each month, assess the health of our Echinacea and milkweed growth, note in notebook. Each week, note any new birds visiting our area.
SANCTUARY INNERWEAR'S TARGETS: The number of bird species will increase by 25% in the next 3 years. The area of land dedicated to medicinal plant growth and butterfly habitat will increase by 50% in the next 3 years.
I'm excited for the growing season to begin! In the meantime, I am focusing on the "thinking" part I mentioned in the video. I'm working on an idea which I'm going to call "Mothers' Nature Quilt". this project will begin to address the Convention on Biological Diversity's goal of "an increase of at least 15 per cent in the area, connectivity and integrity of natural ecosystems by 2050". More about that to come.
It's an exciting time, considering all the opportunities being part of the solution brings! Please join me in doing the important work we need to do!