Etiko was created more than 15-years-ago from a desire to do good. We wanted to purchase clothing and footwear made free from modern slavery, and we wanted to show the world it was possible to manufacture products ethically. So that's what we did. But change doesn't stop at conception; it's a process. We are always on the hunt for ways to go above and beyond as our brand grows. Here are some of the ways Etiko gives back.
Tip the person who made your shoes
As a Fairtrade enterprise, all Etiko manufacturing staff receive a living wage, not just a minimum wage, and a 15% Fairtrade Premium (you can read more about how the Premium works in this blog post). But now, in an Australian first, we are giving customers the opportunity to tip the people who make our shoes.
The Etiko tipping service is optional, and all tips will be collated and equally shared by our shoe manufacturing staff. You'll also learn more about the people who make our shoes, see their faces and understand how they use the tips. It's a simple but significant step that brings our customers closer to those within our supply chains, and helps answer the question of "who made my clothes."
If the tipping service is successful, we will roll the service out to our clothing manufacturing staff.
Subsidising tree planting
Last year, Etiko achieved its goal of being a carbon-neutral brand. To offset our emissions, we purchase carbon credits from Carbon Social: an ethical enterprise subsidising farmers in Timor-Leste to replant trees. This subsidy is essential to farmers because their livelihoods are small, seasonal and variable. Planting trees provides an opportunity for them to increase their earnings while helping the local environment. Now that we are carbon-neutral, we have decided to plant an extra tree for each product sold.
Later this year, when you buy an Etiko product, you will be emailed or given a QR code (when purchasing in a store) linking you and your purchase to the relevant tree. You'll get a map showing the microchipped tree's location and told about the farmer who planted it. Again, we believe this kind of service not only helps the environment, it also brings us closer to each other and breaks down the distance in our supply chains.
Thongs for Good
Our Thongs for Good program first launched in 2016. Since then, we have given over $20,000 to animal, human and environmental rights groups such as Sea Shepherd, Free the Bears, Animals Australia and Injalak Arts, an art cooperative run by First Nation's people.
Our recycling program
In 2019 we launched a take-back program for our sneakers and thongs to help close the loop on the waste our brand produces at the end of a product's lifecycle. That means, when your old shoes need replacing, you can return your unwanted Etiko shoes to us, and we'll have the rubber recycled locally in Melbourne. Plus, we give you a $10 voucher for every pair of sneakers you recycle and a $5 voucher for every pair of thongs.
To take this waste reduction strategy further, we are currently organising a similar recycling scheme for Etiko clothing. It will mean you can return your old Etiko gear (except underwear) and the fibres will be recycled into new threads for new clothes. For us, these steps are part of an essential transition from being carbon neutral to regenerative.
Promoting the work of our First Nation's People
As you may know, our store is moving to Brunswick soon. In our new digs, we will not only be offering you Etiko and BeeKeeper products, we will also be helping to sell garments designed by our First Nation's people and printed on Fairtrade Etiko T-shirts.
With our customers' support, we believe all of these steps help us be the most impactful fashion brand in Australia. Together, we support and promote the rights of hundreds of workers within our supply chains to achieve a more equitable life for themselves, their families and their communities. And we do it with the least environmental impact possible. Etiko is the change we want to see in the world, and we are grateful you are a part of it.