Sustainability and caring for the environment are all-important where Grey Whale bags are concerned. The purpose has never been to produce yet more fast fashion bags made without regard for people or nature but to create beautiful alternatives with minimal impact that will be loved for much longer. Therefore every stage of production all of the components that make up Grey Whale bags is thoughtfully taken into account. As of mid-2017 organic cotton will be the primary fabric that makes up new Grey Whale bags and standard cotton will be phased out. Also new and innovative materials with an eye to sustainability such as Pinatex will be introduced.
Print and pattern
All patterned fabric is screen printed by hand using Tempy’s hand drawn designs and materials are sourced locally as much as possible. The water based printing inks are made in Europe and are non-toxic, solvent, PVC and phthalate free and all production waste is carefully kept to a minimum.
Most of the fabric currently used is handwoven organic cotton produced in Kerala, India by farmers who grow, dye and weave in small batches. The cotton crops are grown without use of pesticides so the farmers can grow food alongside, receive more money for the cotton as it’s organic and input costs will be lower without the need to purchase extra chemicals which would eventually damage the farmers precious land.
The end product is beautiful handwoven organic denim to be used as the perfect base to print Grey Whale original designs on.
Piñatex™ is an innovative, natural and sustainable non-woven textile called made from pineapple leaf fibres. These fibres are the by-product of the pineapple harvest. No extra land, water, fertilizers or pesticides are required to produce them. Piñatex provides new additional income for farmers while creating a vibrant new industry for pineapple growing countries.
While you are reading these lines, Dr Carmen Hijosa (the creator of Pinatex) and her team are working in London. On the other side of the globe, the Filipino farmers are extracting the fibres from the pineapple leaves. The fibres are then sent to a textile finishing company in Spain where the transformation from a fiber mesh into Piñatex takes place.
Just as caring for the environment is integral to the drive towards sustainability so is caring for our fellow humans. Tempy says how she came to realise how important being aware of human rights is as a producer of goods.
‘I make all my bags in the most eco-friendly way I can manage and am always looking for ways to improve. At the very beginning of my transition from fine art paintings to objects I thought I would use a print on demand service to transfer my art onto various surfaces. So I had one plastic phone cover printed with one of my paintings and when it arrived in the post I realized I had no idea of where this object was made, what it was made from and in what conditions it was made and I wasn’t able to find out either. This was an eye-opening moment especially since it was around the time that big factory collapses happened in Bangladesh. It really made me realise that we don’t know enough about where the pieces that make up our belongings and lives come from, so I decided not to print another thing this way and that I would find a way to produce what I wanted myself.’
The introduction of quality organic cotton and Pinatex from transparent, environmentally conscious and ethical suppliers fits perfectly with the overall ethos of Grey Whale.