Back in 2018, we had a wonderful idea! Why not be as open as an outdoor company can possibly be and attach a tag to all of our products listing third party verifications and materials being free from certain chemicals.
The “sustainability hangtag” is what we here at HQ called it. The hangtag was a way to answer our customers’ questions, perhaps even before they had them. It was also the perfect space to communicate the work we are doing in becoming one step closer to being a more responsible company. Why not communicate our sustainable efforts along with our products, right?
Fast forward a few years later, and we now realize the irony of our decision. Our desire to communicate our sustainable choices was actually doing harm to the environment.
Three years before we introduced the sustainability hangtag to our products, we started following a roadmap. To simplify the big complicated world of CSR, responsibility, sustainability, green initiatives…whatever you want to call it, Norrøna’s roadmap was and still is a way for us to map out our goals and track our progress. You can find our map here.
The big brainstorm
So how did we realize that our sustainability hangtags – once regarded as smart CSR communication– was actually a harmful decision? It started with a brainstorm. Every year, each department sets aside meeting times devoted solely towards sharing ideas around how we can achieve our roadmap goals. It was in one of these meetings, more specifically, a meeting to discuss our zero carbon footprint goals, the subject of green packaging use inevitably came up, and the idea to cut our sustainability tag came to fruition.
Before the idea of making the responsible cut was discussed, we never focused on the negative aspects of our sustainability hangtag. Besides, how could a small tag make such a huge difference
By diving into this project that was originally considered a “small step” and “low hanging fruit”, we allowed ourselves to think even bigger with the modifications, and it was like falling down the rabbit hole of responsibility.
However, the reasoning behind adding an additional hangtag was still relevant. We didn’t want our material or chemical CSR information to stay in the dark. So a complete redesign of our main hangtag commenced. It was during this process, the true carbon and waste reduction began.
The estimated effect before calculations that it would both reduce the cost and save 3.6 tons of C02. When every possible action towards reduction was considered and taken, our jaws dropped as our “small cut” ended up saving us an estimated 8,9 tons of C02!
Here’s the breakdown of how the snip of our sustainability hangtag and redesign of our original tag saved us from using literally tons of carbon.
– First and most obvious, we originally had two hangtags and two different sizes but consolidated to a smaller more uniform size to be used on all of our products.
– The CSR information on that tag was already available on our website, so we inserted an easy access QR code on the remaining main tag thereby fulfilling our desire to communicate our CSR work to the public.
– The redesign of the main tag also eliminated the need for the responsibility and barcode stickers which meant we cut out paper, glue and lamination.
During this process, we looked at the existing paper weight and thickness. The paper was switched from laminated 70% recycled sheets to unlaminated 100% FSC recycled. With the paper change, it was only natural to switch to a more environmentally friendly soy-based ink to dot our I’s and cross our T’s.
– This project also allowed us to look into the future which led to the decision of changing out the sharp edge design of the tag to become more rounded in order to reduce the amount of polybags used for our product packaging in the future.
Already set into production the newly single redesigned tag will make its dangling debut on our fall/ winter 23/24 collection.
So what’s the takeaway from this story? We hope that it will encourage everyone to see no cut back as too small or too insignificant to take action. “Every step we take is positive, but we’re still far from the negative,” shares our Chief of Sustainability, Brad Boren.
It’s not always easy to be transparent. Especially when the original numbers aren’t looking good in our favor. But we learned a lot from this project and can’t help but see the irony in how cutting back on our sustainability communication led us to a more responsible way of working.