Sustainability in business means moving from purely capitalist interests to something more meaningful for individuals and less harmful for the environment. An enterprise can exist (and prosper!) without aiming for slow or aggressive growth, incorporate ‘green’ values in multiple ways in practice and act socially responsibly. Sustainability is a cornerstone in the set of core values of Sentti & Tuuma.
This is called something very specific: sustainable business strategy at the foundation of an enterprise, informing all of its decisions, and sustainable marketing, what products are created and how this message is communicated to the outside.
Sustainable marketing consists of four levels, which build on each other: 1. a business, 2. the marketplace, 3. the society and 4. the environment. This is taught in modern business schools today and next to circular economy (see below) among other environmental aspects, social responsibility is key. This means the business takes care of its team members in any way you can think of and also that it considers local communities’ needs, people in logistics chains and beyond. There can be events, fundraisers, mentorship programmes and more.
As for the environment, circular economy is becoming increasingly important to implement wherever possible. It means thinking of ways to reuse components of what is produced and sold. In our case, we could look into textile recycling, recycling of rotary cutters and their parts, and other clever ways to return at least parts of items to the original manufacturer. At this point, Sentti & Tuuma is without practical ideas, so we call on you to voice yours!
Sustainability In Practice
Environmentally Friendlier Options
More traditionally thinking, the environmental component of sustainable marketing includes choosing environmentally friendlier options:
- We use water-generated electricity in the shop.
- Lamps are turned off when not in use, with shop window as exception.
- Course materials: as simply packed as possible.
- Refreshments: served on porcelain etc. including our own reusable cotton napkins from quilting fabric. Tea is Clipper, wrapped in paper bags, which can actually be put in the compost (most other brands use some type of adhesive in the bags, rendering them impossible to compost).
- Cleaning gear:
- Our current brand of choice is EcoClean Nordic’s non-toxic cleaning products for cleaning various places of the shop.
- When you use the bathroom during workshops, you’ll find cotton hand towels, which will be laundered with an environmentally friendly detergent, approved by the local Allergy organisation, and rinsed with white vinegar.
- Delivery materials:
- No plastic except possibly in wintertime to secure goods
- Silk paper to separate tools from fabrics
- Cardboard, using smallest available box to pack goods, possibly reusing delivery boxes we received shipments in
- Paper tape
- Product range: choosing highest quality there is so when you buy a tool, it’ll last for years
It also includes recycling whatever can be separated and luckily, Helsinki has developed new categories to separate for decades. To recycle shop waste, there are specific bins for each in the neighbourhood:
- Cardboard: ah, cardbord… each shipment comes in cardboard, fabric bolts are made of cardboard, and it rolls in. Our shop display was made from cardboard pieces inside the packages that the workshop table came packed in = reusing where we can.
- Let us know if you’re interested in bolt or other cardboard!
- Compostable: leftovers from staff meals and workshops
- Glass: barely anything
- Metal: not much beyond rotary cutter blades and the occasional needle
- Paper: packing materials from distributors, the occasional paper note, inventory catalogs
- Plastic: packing materials from distributors
- Batteries: the shipment scale uses these
- Electronics: the odd time a device dies
- ‘Landfill’: is burnt up in Helsinki, but after all of the above recycling is done, there really isn’t much left!
“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” – Reducing
Reducing may be the most controversial of all, but here goes:
- Please don’t buy something just because. Marie Kondo’s “Spark Joy” concept is wonderful in determining whether something is just to swipe a credit card or it brings actual, long-lasting joy. We don’t encourage mindless shopping, but hope you do it with intention.
- Reduce your existing stash of supplies in addition to buying new!
- We aim to offer what we call bridge builders: fabrics that suit many collections by very different designers rather than be paired with just one or two. While it’s lovely to create new things it’s easier to do so when a stash evolves in a more cohesive direction.
- If you’re new to a craft or technique, we’ll work on creating kits such that you can test a method with minimal investment, without having to go all in and pay hundreds of euros, only to later feel meh about it. Where possible, we’ll offer beginner workshops, too.
- We will introduce you to new techniques using your existing supplies:
- Quilter, meet zippers and metal cord: sew pouches, wallets and bags using your quilting fabric
- Embroiderer, meet tassels and needle punching: create tassels for zipper pulls from embroidery floss or use your thread to punch needle on finer fabric
- Sewer, meet quilting with double gauze or Essex linen: yes, instead of sewing garments, you can use either in quilts
- And the list goes on! Send us your tips!
- We will show you ways to use your last bit of fabric, thread or yarn. They are expensive and nothing should go to waste!
Sustainability Behind The Scenes
It may sound fancy, but we’re thinking of for example:
- Finance and sustainability: Getting to know very well our customers’ taste so we stock only what’s interesting. Not spending money on advertising that doesn’t work (digital ads use server resources among others).
- Sustainability: Learning to anticipate how inventory moves such that product and packaging shipments from distributors are fewer but larger.
- Productivity: honing batch-work skills such that there are no unnecessary errands to the post office, or electricity is used in the shop only when necessary.
Photo credit: Daniel Öberg. Last edited: 10 June 2020.