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HANDMADE EXPRESSIONS速 S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y R E P O RT

2012

LIVING OUR VALUES MAKING AN IMPACT


HANDMADE EXPRESSIONS LIVING OUR VALUES MAKING AN IMPACT


a word from our founder

Welcome to our first Sustainability Report! It’s been quite an exciting journey

since we began Handmade Expressions eight years ago. As we’ve grown, we’ve given great consideration to minimizing our impacts along the way, and now we’ve applied these lessons into a comprehensive sustainability strategy. Whether you’re new to Handmade Expressions or a longstanding partner, I’m excited to share with you our findings and hope this inspires you to talk about sustainability in more personal, meaningful ways with your customers.

Handmade Expressions sees sustainability as a way of life, not an end goal. As a

social entrepreneurship, doing good for people and the planet is our business mission. Fair trade principles are integrated with a deeper concern for the environment in our efforts to create inspired products and connect with our partners. Community is what motivates us — we foster direct personal relationships with artisans in India and with retail partners across North America.

In this report you will learn about our values, philosophy and initiatives to

affect positive change with people, the planet and our products. We also include case studies that highlight specific actions and projects that bring our values to life.

While we recognize there is much still to do to empower artisans, engage our

community and reduce our environmental footprint, I am proud of what our small team of passionate individuals in the US and India have been able to accomplish. Sustainability is our path, our way of doing business, and I invite you to join in our journey as we continue working toward positive change. Kind Regards,

Manish Gupta Founder and Director of Handmade Expressions

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our journey to sustainability

Our mission is to do good for people and the planet by:

Handmade Expressions began in 2005 with a love for the world,

a desire to make it a better place, and the motivation to respectfully blend cultures to create beautiful products supportive of both people and the planet. Founded as a fair trade business, we aspired to prove growth can be achieved in a responsible manner. We have been members of the Fair Trade Federation since 2007 and strongly support its mission and growing community.

Our core philosophy is to be intimately and directly involved with

artisan communities, developing rich partnerships in India where we

DEVELOPING quality products that do no harm to people or the planet.

have a team on the ground, SETU, The Bridge to Artisans, to plan and implement all projects on the artisan side of our business. We partner with these artisan groups in India (and one in Bangladesh) because it allows us to develop direct and personal relationships through SETU. We visit with every group, gain rapport through cultural understanding, and partner in a much more direct and focused manner.

Over the years, Handmade Expressions’ methods have evolved

to surpass impediments to positive change. Drawing from this experience, we have learned that communities need to have ownership over development projects for them to be successful and

EMPOWERING all artisan partners to lead a dignified quality of life.

artisan organizations need additional training and support alongside orders to grow their businesses. These relationships allow our inhouse team of designers to develop products that respectfully blend traditional art forms with modern styles and educate artisans about international design trends.

As Handmade Expressions grew in breadth and depth, we

became increasingly concerned about our environmental and social impacts, and began implementing practices in our operations beyond fair trade that encompass a more holistic approach to sustainability.

ACHIEVING zero-waste throughout our supply chain.

Our core philosophy is to be intimately and directly involved with artisan communities, developing rich partnerships in India.

BUILDING A TRIBE of engaged citizens throughout the United States.

HANDMADE EXPRESSIONS LIVING OUR VALUES MAKING AN IMPACT


we believe in:

Our Company Values and Culture

1 2 3 4 5

RESPECT FOR

PEOPLE

As you discover our people-positive and planet-positive initiatives throughout

this report, we hope you also view our company culture through this lens. Our

RESPECT FOR

PLANET

passionate team is our biggest asset and we offer a fun personal workspace that encourages employees to achieve their fullest potential. This flexibility allows employees to work from home and bring their pets to the office. We also seek to

INTEGRITY INNOVATION &

CREATIVITY FUN &

LEARNING

engage our team through personal development initiatives, including conferences, workshops and visits to artisan communities in India.

Handmade Expressions fosters creative solutions-based thinking — from

product development to sales and marketing. We encourage community interaction and sponsor a team service day each year. In November 2012 we spent a day volunteering with Urban Roots, a local farm and youth development program here in Austin, Texas. More than just a business, purchaser or supplier, Handmade Expressions seeks to be your partner in building communities that work together for lasting social and environmental change.

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what you’ll find

06

13

17

20

ARTISAN NETWORK

EDUCATION AND OUTREACH

PEOPLE

SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

PRODUCT

PRODUCTION

21

19

PACKAGING

22

24

MATERIALS

REDUCING EMISSIONS

PLANET

HANDMADE EXPRESSIONS LIVING OUR VALUES MAKING AN IMPACT

REDUCING ENERGY AND WASTE

21

LIFECYCLE ANALYSIS


people Handmade Expressions exists to connect and empower our global community. Through personal relationships, we provide growth opportunities for our partners on both ends of the business — artisans in India and our local community of retailers in North America. We seek to incite positive social change and inspire our community with responsible practices.

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ARTISAN network 40

COMMUNITIES

9

NEW IN 2012

OUR NETWORK REACHES OVER

20,000 ARTISANS

20 35 6

340

2473

1714

70 11086

62 850

1070 947

50

HANDMADE EXPRESSIONS LIVING OUR VALUES MAKING AN IMPACT

30 3000 25


WHY we prefer certain social groups:

INDIA RANKS 158 TH out of 168 countries worldwide on the Gender Equity Index developed by Social Watch.

75% of our artisan network is women.

By providing economic opportunities to women, we can

WOMEN

mitigate gendered discrimination in India’s patriarchal society and affect social change in a more powerful way.

DISCRIMINATION causes 15% lower wages for scheduled castes as compared to otherwise equally

MINORITIES

qualified people.

30% of our partners specifically target minority or low-caste populations in india.

IN RURAL INDIA, poverty is much higher. Only 39% of people participate in the formal labor force.

rural

NEARLY

30%

More than 80% of our artisans live in rural India.

INDIA’S OFOFINDIA’S POPULATION LIVES POPULATION LIVES IN POVERTY. IN POVERTY.

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IN 2012 HANDMADE EXPRESSIONS DEVELOPED OUR ARTISAN ASSESSMENT INDEX, an innovative tool that evaluates artisan groups’ practices in relation to our social values and distinguishes areas of impact and opportunity. SETU, our team in India, began implementing this with some of our closest partners last year. Artisan groups have been fully engaged in this process to allow for ownership over identified projects and development areas stemming from the measure. Initial assessments thus far have proven effective in helping quantify social impacts from various partnerships and determine future development projects, such as healthy workplaces, quality and skills training or resource access.

WE ARE THE FIRST COMPANY TO CREATE A SUSTAINABILITY MEASUREMENT TOOL LIKE THIS FOR FAIR TRADE ARTISANS IN INDIA.

our social values create impact On average, Handmade Expressions artisan partners make 17% above market wages due to their fair trade partnerships with us.

fair and prompt pay 92% of our artisan partnerships specifically promote and include

social equality

communities that have traditionally had limited economic opportunities in Indian society, including women, social minorities and people with special needs.

In 2012 Handmade Expressions hosted safety training workshops with two artisan communities.

safe and empowering work conditions

confidence and well-being Through fair incomes and counseling, we empower our artisans to send their children to school.

HANDMADE EXPRESSIONS LIVING OUR VALUES MAKING AN IMPACT

From 2009 through 2012, family income has grown an average of 130% for our partner artisans.

no child labor


LIVING OUR VALUES. MAKING AN IMPACT.

CASE STUDY: SAFE WORKING CONDITIONS AND KILN DEVELOPMENT AT COPPER BELL COMMUNITY

In the western Indian state of Gujarat, bell-making is an ancient

Meanwhile,

multiple

trials

of

lead-free

powders

proved

art, with expert tuning techniques passed through the generations. In

unsuccessful. The new substances changed the tuning process, which

2007 Handmade Expressions began partnering with this community

undermined the artisans’ craft expertise. We also partnered with a

of bell makers.

local Hazards Center, which developed a process to remove lead from

The copper bells are crafted from reclaimed brass sheets, cut

and shaped by hand. The raw brass is coated in a clay and copper

the finished bell. However, this did not mitigate the risk of inhalation during production.

powder mixture, then heated in home-based kilns to weld the joints.

Master artisans tune a unique, melodic ring by ear for each bell.

a local rural development NGO to build an outdoor communal furnace

As a socially conscious business that is deeply committed to

artisan welfare, we were very concerned upon discovering a few years ago that the powder coating used by these master bell-makers

In 2012 we decided on a new approach. We started working with

that could control the exhaust and fumes. Trials thus far have proven challenging, yet promising. If this approach is successful, we hope to implement these kilns throughout the artisan villages.

contained small amounts of lead. We began working on solutions to

protect the artisans from inhaling fumes from the kilns or traces of

affecting change for the benefit of the health and livelihoods of artisan

the raw powder.

communities. We continue to dedicate resources to this development

Our team in India provided safety kits and masks at an

educational workshop, and explained the potential health effects of lead. We later discovered, however, that the masks were not worn

This project enlightened us to some of the challenges of

project, which is the focus of one of our major social programs in 2013. We will update stakeholders on its progress via our website, newsletters and in our next sustainability report.

because artisans believed they inhibited the traditional practice of bell-making.

This project enlightened us to some of the challenges of affecting change for the benefit of the health and livelihoods of artisan communities. 9


Economic Empowerment

our Fundamentals of Economic Empowerment: CAPACITY BUILDING All artisans we work with are experts in particular crafts,

For Handmade Expressions, empowerment differentiates us

yet some may not have the skills necessary to complete

from a charity or social service organization. It means rather than

entire products. Artisans can make more money and

just ensuring income for needy artisans, we help them become better

take ownership over a product if they learn stitching or

business people by developing their entrepreneurial skills so they

finishing techniques. Our capacity-building efforts focus

are not dependent on orders from us. The ultimate measure of our success is when artisan groups are able to diversify their customer base along domestic and export markets that pay fairly, thereby

on developing these skills so artisans add more value in production and business development.

sustaining their own businesses and providing for the long term. On

NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

average in 2012, orders from Handmade Expressions comprised 22%

The majority of Handmade Expressions’ products are

of artisan partners’ business, except our jewelry partners, with whom

exclusively designed by our in-house product develop-

we comprise the vast majority of their business.

ment team in conjunction with artisans, using traditional craftwork to conceive products that will be successful

Between 2009 and 2012, artisan organizations increased total

in the U.S. marketplace. Through these partnerships,

business turnover by 125% on average, showing business development

artisans acquire useful knowledge about international

and sustainable sales growth.

design trends and quality standards, which enables their groups to further develop their businesses.

Business development initiatives in 2012

3

MAJOR PROJECTS FOR DESIGN AND QUALITY DEVELOPMENT

2

WORKSHOPS ON CAPACITY BUILDING

2

SAFETY TRAININGS AND EQUIPMENT PROVISION

2

PROJECTS FOR TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS

1

VOCATIONAL TRAINING WORKSHOP FOR ARTISANS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

1

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE (BECOMING NGO)

HANDMADE EXPRESSIONS LIVING OUR VALUES MAKING AN IMPACT

In 2012, we hosted a workshop with a partner block-printing community in Rajasthan to educate the artisans about international quality standards and improve their production skills. Since this workshop, production quality has vastly improved and the unique touch of each handmade product is respected. In addition, artisans were empowered to strengthen their business for export by learning international design and quality standards.


2012 community projects include:

5

WORKSHOPS ON HEALTH AND HYGIENE

4

EVENTS FOSTERING FAIR TRADE AWARENESS IN INDIA

2

ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS (TREE PLANTING AND WATER CONSERVATION)

1

COMMUNITY SPONSORSHIP FOR WOMEN’S AND CHILDREN’S EDUCATION

1

EVENT FOR WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT

1

CRAFT LEARNING WORKSHOP FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

In 2012, Handmade Expressions invested $15,000 back into artisan communities.

Social Development

Handmade Expressions commits 1% of annual revenue to invest

It is remarkable to witness the exponential improvements in

in social change for artisan communities above and beyond our fair

artisan communities as a result of these projects. As artisans have

trading relations. Over the past few years, this funding has supported

more work and steady income, it builds their confidence, health

solar lamp installations in rural villages, education sponsorships,

and well-being — especially among women. Many of our partners

health camps, environmental campaigns and a water treatment system.

have worked to spread the benefits to their communities through resource development projects, education sponsorships for girls, home improvements, health care and access to bank accounts. We are proud of these communities and the changes we’ve helped make by partnering with them.

Handmade Expressions commits 1% of annual revenue to invest in social change for artisan communities in India. 11


LIVING OUR VALUES. MAKING AN IMPACT.

CASE STUDY: SUSTAINABILITY AND SOCIAL PROGRESS FOR A JEWELRY-MAKING COMMUNITY IN NEW DELHI

In June 2012, we visited a jewelry-making community we have

In 2012, Handmade Expressions sponsored evening classes for women

partnered with for four years and found numerous positive changes.

and a university scholarship for the founder’s daughter, who will be

This artisan group began with only a few people working in a tiny,

the first female in the community to attend college!

congested workshop in Old Delhi. Today it is a large community that has been able to improve the quality of life for their families and implement sustainable production methods — all because of fair trade partnerships.

Handmade Expressions provides close to 95% of this group’s

business and the community’s annual sales are now 12 times greater

In 2013, we will continue our support of these jewelry makers

by assisting them to establish as a formal NGO in India. Handmade Expressions is proud that our partnerships are creating real social change and empowering communities. This group has proven to be a true success story and demonstrates what can be done when a community works together.

than prior to our partnership! Individual artisan wages are also 25% higher than local market rates.

Economic success enabled this group to move into a larger

workshop with safer and more environmentally friendly processes.

HANDMADE EXPRESSIONS

They took initiative to create better ventilated workspace and

PROVIDES CLOSE TO 95%

installed containers to properly dispose of chemicals from electroplating.

of this group’s business and the community’s annual sales are now

With help from our team in India, the artisans addressed health and

12 times greater than prior to our partnership!

environmental concerns by sourcing mostly recyclable materials and switching to metals free of lead, cadmium or nickel.

Throughout the years of our partnership we’ve seen substantial

social progress for the extended community as well. This artisan group has strongly supported educating their members and families.

HANDMADE EXPRESSIONS LIVING OUR VALUES MAKING AN IMPACT

Individual artisan wages are also 25% higher than local market rates.


Education and Outreach Part of Handmade Expressions’ mission is to engage our community through active outreach, building a tribe of engaged consumer-citizens who are inquisitive about how products are made, how their purchases affect producers and the environment, and what businesses are doing to improve social and environmental impacts.

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responsible marketing

Our marketing communications strategy is built to

ENGAGE and INSPIRE customers with our beautiful, stylish handcrafts while sharing the promise and rewards of sustainable trade.

We are mindful of the stories we share about our partner

participated in direct outreach for World Fair Trade Day (in May)

artisans and ensure the tone is respectful and uplifting. We

annually since 2009 (see case studies on pages 15 and 16). We

want everyone to see the craftsmanship behind Handmade

built an active social media presence in 2012 to connect with our

Expressions’ products and the artisans leading fulfilling lives.

audience more personally and directly share resources about

Throughout 2012, we developed new communications guide-

sustainability, and we donated products to fundraisers that

lines to solidify our messaging and we began a brand audit,

promote our shared mission, such as Ten Thousand Villages of

which included conversations with buyers and other retail

Austin’s One Reason Why Fair Trade Art Show and The Tender

experts. As a result, we’re undergoing a rebranding process —

Heart Foundation.

including new website, visual identity and marketing materials — that will debut in summer 2013. We’re excited about this investment because it will help us — and you— convey the promise of fair trade products to engage and inspire customers.

Recognizing

the

interconnectedness

of

our

In order to reduce our impact on the environment, our

catalogs and product hangtags that are produced in the United States are printed on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified recycled paper using chlorine-free, plant-based inks.

global

We also recycle or reuse printed materials whenever possible,

community, we hope to inspire our partners to live mindfully

and we continue to look for solutions that are more ecologically

and enable them with the resources to share this collective

responsible. We believe strongly that

knowledge. Handmade Expressions has engaged our retail

like these help position stores as ethical businesses, strengthen

partners and local community through events support during

brand image and build customer loyalty.

Fair Trade Month (October) for the last two years, and has

HANDMADE EXPRESSIONS LIVING OUR VALUES MAKING AN IMPACT

sustainability practices


LIVING OUR VALUES. MAKING AN IMPACT.

Education and Outreach: BLOCK PRINTING FOR FAIR TRADE MONTH

Retail partners are one of our biggest assets for direct

The block-printing events proved to be a mad success! All 50 kits

educational outreach and we wanted to give back and support them in

were claimed within just four hours of announcing the event online.

their awareness-raising efforts. Handmade Expressions sponsored 50

We received photos and enthusiastic feedback from most partners,

block-printing kits to assist retail partners in hosting fair trade events

showcasing how they fostered interaction with their communities

at their stores in October 2012 for Fair Trade Month. Block-printing was

in direct and positive ways. Retail store Tenfold Fair Trade Collection

the perfect solution; not only would it provide a hands-on creative

won our contest for most engaging event and received a prize of

activity, the blocks were purchased from our artisan partners, providing

handmade, block-printed Eco Shopper bags.

them additional income.

Along with a unique hand-carved wood block, we included a “how

to� poster and informational bookmarks. These shared a story of the fair trade impact on a block-printing community by highlighting a water treatment project implemented by Handmade Expressions last year (see page 20 for more on this project). We also assisted with promoting the events through our social media channels.

Handmade Expressions sponsored 50 block-printing kits to assist retail partners in hosting fair trade events at their stores in October 2012 for Fair Trade Month.

All 50 kits were claimed within just four hours of announcing the event online. 15


LIVING OUR VALUES. MAKING AN IMPACT.

Education and Outreach: FAIR TRADE ARTISAN TOUR WITH LATA KACHHAWAHA 14 MEETINGS | 10 DAYS | 10 CITIES AND TOWNS

In celebration of World Fair Trade Day 2012, Handmade

promotes under her leadership. One of SURE’s primary goals is to

Expressions and Fair Trade Towns co-sponsored a tour that brought

generate livelihoods for women through craftwork. Lata ji explained,

Lata Kachhawaha to the United States from rural Rajasthan. The tour

“Making money is a platform for women to have a voice, to work for

began at our office in Austin, Texas, then traveled up the coast of

their own empowerment.” Audiences were struck by the personal

California and ended with a speaking engagement at the Fair Trade

stories that emerged in discussions and the impacts responsible trade

Federation’s conference in Seattle.

has on women’s lives.

Over 10 days, Lata ji met with passionate social activists and

Overall, this tour helped Handmade Expressions foster a

mission-based retail stores to share her experiences with The Society

connection between the two ends of the fair trade system: an artisan

to Uplift Rural Economy (SURE), one of our fair trade partners in

lead with advocates in the United States. Everyone was appreciative

India. She enjoyed having the opportunity to meet with advocates,

of this opportunity for personal dialogue and said it motivated them in

learn about U.S. culture, and see beautiful sights along the way.

advocating for fair trade. Several partners shared Lata ji’s story with

Lata ji has dedicated her life to women’s empowerment in the

desert region of Barmer,

located in northwestern Rajasthan. She

their online audiences, helping to continue the discussion and inspire more communities.

illuminated the holistic strategy for rural development that SURE finish!

Making money is a platform for women to have a voice, to work for their own empowerment. -Lata Kachhawaha Begin

HANDMADE EXPRESSIONS LIVING OUR VALUES MAKING AN IMPACT


product SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT In 2012, Handmade Expressions began to conceptualize what makes a sustainable product. To us, a sustainable product embodies four qualities: respectful of people, environmentally friendly, durable and functional.

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Lifecycle Considerations for Sustainable Product Development HANDMADE EXPRESSIONS DEVELOPED THIS CHECKLIST TO HELP OUR DESIGN TEAM UNDERSTAND HOW VARIOUS DESIGN DECISIONS IMPACT A PRODUCT THROUGHOUT ITS LIFECYCLE.

materials and production

packaging and logistics

Prefer naturally sourced or

Preferred Packaging:

upcycled raw materials

Reusable packaging options

Clean production practices conserve resources and preserve environment

Upcycled materials

Provides sustainable

Recyclable or biodegradable materials

livelihood for producers

Minimalist options

Safe and empowering work

Environmental stewardship in

conditions for producers

shipping and office operations

disposal / end of life

use and care

Repurpose > Compost

Functionality: Fulfill a practical need

> Recycle

or emotional purpose

Compostable or Recyclable

Meet quality standards

at end of useful life

Easy for consumers to fix or upgrade

Easy disassembly

Care/Wash should minimize eco

Minimal chemicals or

impacts. No dry clean required

finishers that may leach

Test for safety or toxins released during use.

To us, a sustainable product embodies four qualities: RESPECTFUL OF PEOPLE, ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY, DURABLE AND FUNCTIONAL.

HANDMADE EXPRESSIONS LIVING OUR VALUES MAKING AN IMPACT


sustainable materials

Raw materials are the largest factor contributing to environmental

Since a single tool to measure the impacts of our diverse

impacts across our products’ lifecycles. With our business model,

product range does not yet exist, we developed a customized

sustainable product design is challenging because we have access

framework to assist with understanding the environmental effects

to limited materials that artisans can source from local markets and

of the materials we use. Inspired by the Sustainable Apparel Coali-

traditional artistic methods may only apply with certain materials. In

tion’s materials research, we scored materials across five main impact

2012, Handmade Expressions’ Sustainability Manager conducted a

areas of material production, from seed to final product. (See Indian

research project to understand the lifecycle impacts of various

Rosewood infographic for an example of how this scorecard works).

materials we use. This benchmark research enables us to set strategies for improving impacts, such as sourcing sustainable alternatives where possible, for instance.

When we

began, we

operated

on the

assumption that

natural materials are better than synthetic and sourced in a responsible manner when possible. However, by putting concrete research

indian rosewood SCORECARD

and data behind these five impacts, we discovered how such assumptions do not always hold true. For example, the majority of our textile products are made with cotton, which originally we believed to have a lighter footprint on the earth since it’s a natural fiber. In 2012, with our newly acquired knowledge of the heavy toxic impact from pes-

Handmade Expressions has created a material scorecard

ticides and immense water use to grow conventional cotton, we could

that measures the environmental effects of the materials

then mindfully set strategies to move forward. We are continuously

we use to create our products. Our goal is to only work with materials that maintain a score of 10 or above – making our products low impact.

researching how we can shift to lower-impact alternatives, such as organic or fair trade cotton, while still providing fair incomes, maintaining ethical business standards and minimizing carbon emissions in our

Environmental Impact

renewability water use toxic impact energy use end of life

>>

3 4 4 4 2

Score

/3 /5 /5 /5 /2

supply chain.

Stemming from this research, we created a list of preferred eco

materials that scored highest in our ranking. 1.

Preferred materials Include: Upcycled or recycled-content materials

2.

Responsibly-sourced materials (such as cruelty-free leather and silk or sustainably harvested local Indian Rosewood)

3.

Rapidly-renewable fibers (such as jute and hogla leaf)

4.

Organic fabrics (we have begun exploring the sourcing potential)

We also are working to extend this to dyes and components. We

prefer natural dyes; if that’s not possible in production, we ensure all synthetic dyes are non-toxic and AZO-free.

To disseminate this knowledge internally so that various

departments can make effective product development decisions and communicate transparently, we also created material data sheets.

Overall, Indian Rosewood is a very sustainable material and has become one of our preferred materials for new product development. It is a fast-growing hardwood that is sustainably

These cover more qualitative aspects of the materials, including how it’s made, how it’s commonly used, care instructions, and any

sourced and does not contribute to deforestation. It is a hardy

sustainability concerns. Our material data sheets have been a

and durable tree that does not require watering other than

valuable tool for empowering the entire team to contribute to our

what is naturally fed from rains, nor does it need pesticides or

sustainable materials initiatives.

fertilizers. Being a natural material, it can also be used to feed composts or as mulch at the end of a product’s life.

19


LIVING OUR VALUES. MAKING AN IMPACT.

CASE STUDY: production WATER CONSERVATION IN BARMER

In early 2012, Handmade Expressions’ India team began a

sustainable

development

After identifying this issue, we worked with a local lab that

conserve water with the

developed a water filtration system comprised of a quartz and sand

block-printing community that makes our best-selling Eco Shopper

pressure filter and an activated carbon filter. Tests effectively proved

bags. A water treatment plant was installed by August at the artisans’

the water output is clean and suitable for reuse in block-print production.

workshop

This plant has capacity to filter 2,000 liters of water each hour and

in Barmer,

project to

in western Rajasthan, to

be

used for

production of block-printed fabric. This will conserve 5 million liters of water per year!

each lot of water can be filtered and reused 15 times!

Water filtration is a huge economic relief for artisans, as they

Water is a scarce and precious resource in the dry, desert

expect large monetary savings from purchasing less water and are no

region of Barmer. Traditional hand block-printing requires an immense

longer at risk of shutting down due to water scarcity. It also helps keep

volume of water to dye and print the fabric. This one group consumes

the community healthy by eliminating effluents from draining into the

25,000 to 50,000 liters of water each day, which must be delivered

surrounding land. This project proved to be a successful breakthrough

from surrounding regions. Until now, there has been no way to clean

initiative for Handmade Expressions, and has inspired us to identify

or reuse, so wastewater with effluents was drained and absorbed into

other artisan communities that can benefit from water filtration systems.

the land.

Artisans save from purchasing less water and are no longer at risk of shutting down due to water scarcity.

HANDMADE EXPRESSIONS LIVING OUR VALUES MAKING AN IMPACT


Product Packaging

lifecycle analysis

In 2012, in an effort to eliminate plastic poly bags, Handmade

Expressions developed basic bags made from upcycled saris to package our products. Fully 100 product styles are now packed in fabric sari bags! These not only reduce the plastic we use, the bags also make use of scrap fabric that would otherwise go to landfills, and they provide incomes to our artisan partners who stitch the bags.

To Handmade Expressions, a sustainable product is

made up of a holistic combination of factors that consider the impact along the entire lifecycle, from production through reuse or disposal. While we focus on quality and functionality to extend the useful lifespan of a product and encourage reuse, we recognize at some point the product will eventually be discarded. Therefore, we strive to create products that are largely made from compostable

There were a couple of issues that we had to address to make

or recyclable materials and can be disassembled to offer

this switch. First, since the sari bags are not transparent, our

an alternative from traditional disposal. We hope the end

warehouse team could not immediately see what products were

of one product’s life completes a loop, allowing for the

inside the bags. So we used identifying stickers and labels, which is a

beginning of a new natural or industrial cycle.

system that works well in our warehouse. Next, we were not sure how customers would react to the new packaging, or if the sari bags would cause any merchandising challenges. Fortunately, we’ve had a great response about the clever new packaging from our retail partners. In fact, some have even asked us how they can get more sari bags!

end-of-life of current product line

51%

28%

21%

COMPOSTABLE

LANDFILL

RECYCLABLE

PRODUCTS

PRODUCTS

PRODUCTS

Cotton Textiles

Upcycled Sari Products

Metal Jewelry

Hogla Baskets

Upcycled Plastic Bags

Glass Beads

Wood Toys and Accessories

Mixed Materials that

Copper Bells

Handmade Paper Stationery

cannot be separated

Newspaper Bags

Paper Journals

or disassembled

Leather Journals and Cases

Components (zippers, magnetic buttons)

We’ve worked to improve the end-of-lifecycles of certain products last year. For example, originally our new Song Birds

were stuffed with a polyester fill; but our design team worked with artisans to change to a cotton fill, which makes these all natural and compostable. We also try to ensure threads used for embroidery or stringing jewelry are cotton instead of nylon. Such small steps do not affect the beauty or functionality of products, but they make big impacts on the environment.

Moving forward in 2013 and beyond, we hope to continue these efforts alongside consumer education to influence behavior and help users understand the benefits of mindful reuse and disposal. 21


Planet As a company concerned about sustainability, we have begun taking steps to measure our operational impacts, particularly in terms of CO2 emissions and waste. While we do not have a full benchmark of our total footprint yet, we hope to gain a more comprehensive understanding in 2013 and set specific goals for reduction. In 2012, we began participating in an offset program for carbon-neutral domestic shipping and a green energy program supporting renewable wind energy in Texas. We hope to gain a more comprehensive benchmark of our operational impacts in 2013 and set new goals for reduction.

HANDMADE EXPRESSIONS LIVING OUR VALUES MAKING AN IMPACT


Goal: Reduce air shipping volume by 20% One of our largest focus areas was to reduce our carbon output from air shipments. As an international product distribution company, shipping impacts are inevitable. However, we want to keep these to a minimum, which is why we generally prefer to ship products by ocean carrier. Sometimes air shipments are required for out-of-stock products and urgent customer needs; however, in 2012 we set a goal that would require mindful effort and planning by the whole team to reduce our air shipping volume by 20 percent. By the end of the year, we far surpassed our goal, reducing volume by 41 percent — a major accomplishment!

air shipping reduction 2011 stats 10.29 tons of product shipped by air, effectively means

2012 goal

8.32 tons air shipped, reduction of 11.83 tons of CO2

59.15 tons CO2 released

>> This is equivalent to 11.2 passenger vehicles driven for a whole year.

WHY reduce air shipping how to reduce air shipping

>> Air shipping releases 30 times more CO2 than shipping by sea >> Air shipping is 10 times more expensive than sea shipping per pound >> Aircrafts consume more oil and nonrenewable resources than ocean carriers >> Air shipping perpetuates a culture of fast-consumerism in the United States

>> Advance production planning and inventory accuracy >> Continual product launch process >> Setting realistic expectations with customers

2012 results

6.05 tons air shipped, reduction of 24.38 tons of CO2

Reduced total volume and CO2 impact by 41%, far surpassing our goal!

>> Effectively removed 4.6 passenger vehicles from the road for a year >> Saved approximately $23,000 >> Recognizing the impact we are making, we continue monitoring to

further reduce and/or purchase offsets

23


Environmental Stewardship: REDUCE ENERGY AND WASTE IN THE OFFICE

In 2012 we moved into a larger office and warehouse, which allowed us to track and

benchmark energy use for the first time. Because of extreme summer heat in Texas, we saw our energy use skyrocket in the summer months. While smaller steps such as utilizing natural lighting, setting moderate temperature controls, and powering off computers and equipment

energy

overnight helped a bit in our mid-year review, air conditioning is a necessity. Fortunately, we discovered a local program through Austin Energy called GreenChoice, which charges a flat energy rate year-round and ensures all energy costs go to support renewable energy sources in Texas, particularly wind and solar. We even discovered our budget for energy would effectively be the same! We joined in late summer of 2012, and are proud to be able to do our part to help restore the environment.

REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE

is an important motto for our office, and we

encourage all team members to take steps to live it. We have a kitchen compost and recycling bins for the office, and employees rotate weeks to take home or dispose of properly.

waste

Our largest recycling effort is in our warehouse. We reuse boxes and packaging materials as

much as possible. All shipments to customers are packed with paper, magazines or other clean waste from the office. Based on feedback from our customers, whenever possible we use only one type of material per box so they can conveniently continue the practice of recycling on their end. We purchase minimal new packaging materials for our office, which helps reduce waste and keeps costs low.

Carbon offsetting

We participate in UPS’ Carbon Neutral program for domestic shipments to customers. These offsets fund reforestation, wastewater treatment, and cleaning landfill gas and methane destruction.

HANDMADE EXPRESSIONS LIVING OUR VALUES MAKING AN IMPACT

Throughout 2012, $227 was contributed to offset the CO2 output from shipping over 4,200 packages.


Strategy

Moving Forward: SUSTAINABILITY INTEGRATION AND TEAM ENGAGEMENT

Here are our key strategies for 2013. We invite you to follow our progress on these over the next year and see what more is to come on our journey:

2012

was

sustainable

a

foundational

thinking

into

year

Handmade

for

building

Expressions’

daily worklife. We created a company process matrix

1

BUILD TEAM INSPIRATION for sustainability initiatives, including learning tours in India and Engagement Plans

to show each department how they directly affect our sustainability goals and whereeach team member can make a difference. Each department crafted guidelines for operating in alignment with our sustainability values.

2

Moving forward in 2013, we plan to further

goals to set comprehensive strategic planning, each department is creating their own scorecards to measure

in sustainability efforts via our merchandising and marketing collateral,

program in India

measurable way. We hope to create a triple bottom line

of people and planet as well as profits. Budding from

RETAIL PARTNERS

support for events, and partnership tour

integrate sustainability throughout the business in a

for our business, accounting for our success in terms

ACTIVELY INVOLVE

3

STRENGTHEN OUR SUSTAINABLE IMPACT through new product development, including two collections for high-need

and report on how sustainability is the path along which

artisan groups and made from

we operate.

preferred eco materials

4

CREATE A RENEWED BRAND STRATEGY that conveys our passion for fair trade and our guiding mission as a socially responsible business

THIS report IS PRINTED ON 100% POST CONSUMER FIBER. PLEASE RECYCLE AT THE END OF ITS USE. 25


Handmade Expressions速

512.535.5228 | www.handmadeexpressions.net 3007 Longhorn Blvd | Suite 113 | Austin, TX 78758

Handmade Expressions Sustainability Report  

Handmade Expressions is the first fair trade wholesaler to publish a comprehensive sustainability report analyzing its operations and initia...