What to Expect - When you buy intimates with Integrity
We’re operating in a world where brand ‘transparency’ feels more opaque than ever. CSR is increasingly seen as a fad, and sustainability has lost its meaning – with some going as far as saying the word should be banned.
Honesty is always the best policy, which is why we wanted to explain exactly what to expect when you buy Bedstraw + Madder underwear. This isn’t simply a tick-box exercise – these are our values. They support our brand ethos and are non-negotiables for the way we do business, day in and day out.
We never settle
Before Bedstraw + Madder became a reality, when it was just the seed of an idea, we knew that pushing forwards, breaking boundaries and creating new norms would be key. It’s becoming equally clear that there’s no point just ‘sustaining’ the world as it is. The reality is that we need to reset the natural balance; we need to fix fashion. There’s so much we can do to make clothing in a way that is kind to people and the planet – and so we will always explore every avenue in every part of our business to make the most considered decisions possible. Forget no stone – it’s no cotton boll unturned.
We’re traceable and trustable
Transparent supply chains should be a given. We proudly grow our own cotton, which means we know the impact we’re making on the world around us, and ensure human rights are respected throughout our entire supply chain. And because we’re seriously serious about traceability, very soon you can follow the journey of each and every knicker we make through our QR codes. From field to fabric.
We act with integrity
We’re committed to making moral decisions that not only cause no harm, but do good – for both people and planet. And while we believe in the choices we’ve made and the methods we use, we know that nobody is perfect. So if things change, we’re ready to have open and honest conversations, and to rethink and course-correct as and when needed. It goes back to our belief in never settling. It’s the only way we can keep making a difference.
And this is all interconnected – a holistic view
Underpinning everything we do is a holistic approach; considering how every action and decision affects everything and everyone – whether that’s a cotton farmer and their family, the biodiversity of the land, or the customer hurriedly picking a pair of pants from their underwear drawer ahead of a busy day.
Those are our values. But what makes us different to other ‘sustainable’ underwear brands?
- Our knickers won’t fade into the background: We're unbelievably proud to have hit a first in the natural dye world, having achieved industry colourfastness standards with our plant dyes (meaning it won’t fade or run easily)
- Inventing new norms: After a lot of trial and error, we’ve taken a step into unchartered territories and created recycled elastane waistbands & trims for our knickers that are also biodegradable: from the Earth back to the Earth
- What goes around comes around: To be sure that we are creating truly circular solutions, we tested the biodegradability of our cotton at the Eden Research Laboratory. They’ve confirmed that our intimates completely biodegrade within three years – ensuring a better world for future generations
Sound like hard work? That’s because it is. As the famous saying goes, if it was easy, everyone would do it. But this is the regeneration generation; and we won’t settle for less.
Want to know how Bedstraw + Madder came about? Meet the founders here (link).
Soil to Soil - Soul to Soul
We all generate waste of some description.
When we do, we might use the expression “throw it away” in the same sentence.
In recent years though there has been a surge in the amount of us questioning where this place “away” actually is.
The clear truth is it doesn’t’ exist. When we throw something away it just becomes someone else’s problem.
In the UK in 2020 the UK exported a shocking 0.54 million tons of plastic to other countries and every year 700 tonnes of clothing goes to landfill.
But hiding things out of sight doesn’t solve the problem that is mounting in landfills around the world.
The solution needs to be built in at the start, to all the things we use in our life and no less importantly this needs to be applied to our clothes.
From conventional cotton production, which uses a staggering amount of pesticides, to petroleum-based toxic dyes, to exploited factory workers, there are many reasons that it is past time to transform the way our clothes are produced.
When we started Bedstraw + Madder we always envisaged a circular model, utilising resources, eliminating or repurposing waste whilst creating pieces that could return to the earth at end of life without contaminating it in the process.
The regular polyester elastic that is used in most knickers can takes up to 200 years to biodegrade. Where does that leave future generations?
We achieved our vision with our first product, our farm 2 fibre knickers which we call “soil to soil” – a term developed by Fibreshed, (an organisation who we partnered with in India to grow our cotton) which alludes to the close connection to the landscape that growing what you wear brings you.
It also refers to the ability of our knickers to return to whence they came.
The use of natural rubber elastic means that our knickers will compost back to the soil within 6 months. Images speak louder than words.
This is week 6 of being in the home compost. We already have separation from the elastic and large holes developing.
Over the next few months we will be sharing our composting videos via our instagram channel.
Looking for a gift that doesn’t cost the earth? Check out our knicker range.
Mother Nature and Nature's Mother
Picture a farmer.
What do they look like? Are they tall or short? Are they dressed in dungarees, holding a shovel, in a tractor, wearing wellies? Are they Kaleb from Clarkson’s Farm?
Are they a man?
It’s a common misconception that most farmers are male – like many occupations, men seem to be the face of the farming world. In reality, women make up the majority of the cotton farming workforce in India – so much so that nearly 75% of full-time workers on India’s farms are, in fact, women.
And do you know what? They’re incredibly good at it. Women are integral to the cotton value chain – your clothing quite literally would not exist without them. But they are still undervalued by many; still underpaid for their work; and still disregarded despite their knowledge of the land.
In India, women are often not recognised as farmers because the land is owned or leased to men. But this is nonsensical. We value women.
In traditional Indian farming communities, seed preservation has always been a women’s role. They have a unique connection to Mother Nature – an unrivalled understanding of it. They’re it’s kindest keepers.
Take Eswari, who lives in Erode, Southern India, where our cotton is grown. She is absolutely at home on the farm. If you ask her about the flora, her face will light up. She’ll immediately be able to point you in the direction of plants with healing properties. The land is her own personal hospital.
Eswari, on the farm in Erode, India.
But women also play a pivotal role in protecting our planet, despite (or perhaps, because of) being more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Research shows that the contributions of women lead to successful, long-term solutions to climate change & global warming.
We have to be careful when we use the word empowerment. It has been used by too many corporations, too many times, and with too little connection to any real impact.
Pon Vaishali manages the farm where our cotton is grown. Although her interest in farming was inspired by her father, who specialised in organic turmeric and vegetables, Vaishali also has extensive theoretical knowledge from her agriculture degree. This included learning about low-impact farming practices, such as crop rotation, green manures and compost, biological pest control and mechanical cultivation. Her knowledge makes our regenerative farm better.
Ultimately, we’re passionate about the lives of the women that are so ingrained in the land that grows our cotton. And any positive impact on women has a ripple effect on their households and communities; it’s exactly what we’re about – holistic outcomes for all – economic, social and environmental.
Because this is the regeneration generation. And we won’t settle for less.