We caught up with sustainable textile printer BIDBI – Bag It Don’t Bin It, to talk about how they’re helping the planet with their plastic free products. Find out what they had to say…
Tell us who BIDBI is and what you do?
We are a textile printer that specialise in printing on sustainably sourced bags, accessories and homewares using environmentally friendly print methods. We make and print branded cotton bags as an eco-friendly, fairly traded alternative to plastic bags. We work with businesses all over the world and have been around since 2007.
Why is sustainability important to your brand?
We were founded with the goal to provide artists and businesses ethically produced products which would help grow their business. We recognise that many industrial processes and practices are harmful to the environment and exploit the world’s natural resources. It is this awareness that has motivated us to develop a product that provides businesses and organisations with a sustainable marketing solution that also demonstrates their green credentials to their clients and consumers.
Can you tell us a bit about how BIDBI puts its commitment to sustainability into action?
From our eco-print factory in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, we continually aim at reducing our environmental impact, throughout our whole supply chain. This process undergoes rigorous checks by external auditors to ensure our impact on the environment remains as low as possible. Some main practices that we follow are minimising the use of raw materials in the factory and office, transporting our bags to our factory using sustainable transport and consolidating orders. Additionally, as a Zero Waste to Landfill business, we prioritise the reduction of waste, followed by re-use, recycling and where there is no alternative, energy recovery.
It’s important to mention that we are a GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) approved processing facility. GOTS is the leading worldwide textile processing standard. To become GOTS certified, a company must; use at least 70% organic fibres in their products, ensure that all chemicals used, like dyes, meet their low toxicology criteria, water treatment plants must be put in place, and other social criteria that must also be met. BIDBI is one of the only GOTS certified textile printing companies in the UK.
Our bags are made of 100% natural materials only and are printed at our Sheffield factory, as well as being GOTS and Fairtrade certified, we specialise in environmentally-friendly production methods, therefore we only use ISO 14001 inks, and have dedicated recycling bins. Operating sustainably is of high importance to us, we are continually working on and improving our environmental impact within the community and on a wider scale.
Can you explain how a cotton tote bag is better for the environment compared to a plastic bag?
By cutting down the production and usage of plastic bags, the environment will be better protected. First of all, plastic bags are made from non-renewable resources and contribute to climate changes. In making plastic bags we use up the world’s continually depleting oil reserves. In addition to this, plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to degrade. The plastic breaks up into tiny microscopic pieces that get deposited in soils (where we grow food) or contaminate waterways, polluting the soil with chemicals or choking and killing marine or bird life. The reasons why one should make the switch from plastic bags to reusable ones are endless. The biggest range of benefits for the choice to switch to providing reusable and eco-friendly bags over the traditional plastic bag comes from the environmental impact. When it comes to plastic bags vs. reusable bags, the choice is obvious.
Can you tell us about your ethical commitments?
We have established Environmental and Ethical Sourcing Policies to verify that the people who make our products are provided with enough support to prosper. We work collaboratively with our factory in India and all our suppliers who demonstrate ethical principles in the way they conduct their business. We treat every individual involved in our operation with respect, which will never be compromised and our integrity as an ethical supplier is based on this.
All our bags are produced in our partner factory in India who are members of SEDEX (Supplier Data Ethical Exchange). SEDEX, is a web-based database that enables suppliers to share information about labour standards at their factories and assists the continuous improvement of the ethical performance of supply chains.
Furthermore, a set of audits take place at this factory to ensure that the appropriate high standards of safety, environmental responsibility and human rights are maintained. Moreover, our Ethics and Social Compliance makes sure that every worker in the factory is paid a living wage, enjoys good working conditions and is free from any type of harassment.
Our factories, both in the UK and India are also registered with Fairtrade, which enables BIDBI to produce Fairtrade certified cotton products. Hence, all of our bags carry the Fairtrade Cotton mark, which indicates that the bags you purchase have come from a supply chain which and meets the Fairtrade Standard for cotton and puts its workers first.
How has the Covid 19 pandemic affected BIDBI?
We have been lucky in that we have been able to continue trading throughout the pandemic. We supply products to many sectors so even though events had to stop completely, other industries adapted and took business online or changed their business model and still needed printed bags.
Do you have any advice for other businesses wanting to use more sustainable products?
I would say, go for it. It’s super easy to take stock of what you use day to day that can be switched out for sustainable and ethical alternatives. Be that, tea and coffee, paper, lightbulbs, and cleaning products. Encouraging employees to take up greener habits such as recycling, and using less plastic are other great ways you can improve social and environmental conditions.
Going one step further and becoming a sustainable business through generating profit while improving social and environmental conditions, is not impossible. This includes what you do (your product or service) as well as how you do it (the way you operate). And becoming a more sustainable business provides you with a plethora of advantages. In short, it helps the business become more efficient, achieve better growth, cut costs and strengthen stakeholder relations.
In addition to this, it improves your brand’s value and reputation, as promoting your environmentally friendly methods can set your business apart from your competitors and attract new customers who want to buy products and services from an environmentally friendly business. Correspondingly, according to The Natural Marketing Institute, consumers are 58% more likely to buy from businesses that are more ethical and sustainable. Moreover, their research also showed that consumers are willing to spend up to 20% more on environmentally sound products and services.
Another great benefit of being an environmental and sustainable business is that it helps attract and retain quality staff. People increasingly want to work for companies that are “doing the right thing”. Lastly, becoming a ‘greener business can increase productivity and reduce costs due to the better usage of resources and following mindful and streamlined operations.
Find out more about BIDBI. Or follow them on social media…