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Making Sustainability sexy

We often talk about our bags and how they can make your #mumlife easier and less stressful. But having an Alf is also supporting a sustainability-focused brand.

Sustainability to small business is often a whole lot of little changes the business makes to be more environmentally and socially conscious. As our business has grown I am so proud to say so has our importance on being better at this.

If you are looking at it from an office and warehousing point of view, we do a bunch of things to try to be a responsible biz.

Reduce waste 

  • Because our products are shipped to us by sea there needs to be an amount of soft plastic used to protect your bags from any moisture along the way. A couple of years ago I worked with my manufactures to reduce the soft plastics used in our shipments by around 60%.
  • We have a soft plastics recycling program within our business to consciously dispose of the plastics we are still using.
  • I am continuously working with my suppliers to find better, more sustainable ways of packing out products, including looking into wrapping the shipments in the future with compostable plastics.
  • We participate in a cardboard recycling program with our local council and rent a 1100 litre cardboard recycling bin to dispose of our shipping cartons and packing paper.
  • The packaging we send your Alfs out in is either recyclable cardboard boxes or compostable satchels, which was a move we made around 18 months ago from the soft plastic pre-paid satchels. 

Reduce energy

  • When we moved into our current warehouse we removed all the old energy sucking light fittings and replaced them with low energy LEDs. Even the incredible spider lights in our main warehouse space use less power than the old factory lights.

Minimise

  • Our kitchen water filtration system was chosen because it didn’t use plastic bottles, we refill the charcoal filter with the tap. 
  • As a team, aside from things we can’t avoid printing (like mailing labels for our parcels) we all make an active effort to print as little on paper as possible.
  • We use a cloud-based filing system rather than physical paperwork to reduce reliance on paper and files

When it comes to our products there are numerous ways we work towards offering you a more sustainable #mumlife.

If you have been following for a while you would know I design products to solve problems. 

Baby bags, which take you right through newborn mamahood, to toddler hood and right back to working mama life. They aren’t dowdy pieces you buy for one single life stage and then stop using once your little one is out of nappies. They are products you will use for years to come.

Our coveted Ari and Muriel bags are some of the most versatile on the market, with four ways to wear the bags – and designs which transform from a ‘baby bag’ to the cutest handbag you ever did see.

We are so proud to say our bags are not a product of fast fashion – and you, our #mummunity often tell us your bags have served you through motherhood for 1,2 or even 3 babies and have then become your go-to work or overnight bag. 

Our coveted Ari and Muriel bags are some of the most versatile on the market, with four ways to wear the bags – and designs which transform from a ‘baby bag’ to the cutest handbag you ever did see.

The introduction of the Everything bag was around the time our national plastic bag use regulations came into place and now there are thousands of mamas who use one of our gorg reusable bags which help save the world from decomposing one less plastic bag for the next 500-1000 years (no joke).

Even our materials are sustainable. I have mentioned before that our leather is a bi-product of the farming and agricultural industry and is considered sustainable because the animals are not raised for the express purpose of using their leather for another purpose. 

Leather is biodegradable and unlike Vegan leather, it begins as an organic material which will degrade in around 50 years.

Although Vegan leather is often thought to have a lower impact on the environment than genuine leather, Vegan and PU leather can be made from plastics which take hundreds of years to biodegrade, so they are far worse for our planet. Vegan and PU leather can also release toxic particles and phthalates, which can affect the environment and health of humans and animals. 

We know genuine leather isn’t for everyone – however we love leather and know many of you do too.

I bet you’re wondering why we have recently started talking about our impending move to dispatching out east coast and international orders out of Sydney? 

A lot of it has to do with being a more sustainable business.

Currently, we are dispatching all of our orders from our giant pink warehouse here in Perth. Simple you might think. Keep it all in house, surely that’s got to be better?

In some ways, it would make life easier if we could keep full control over those systems. However, after more than six months of analysis with accountants, business managers, mentors, and e-commerce experts the decision came down to a couple of things.

First up - you might think it’s going to dramatically reduce our running costs and put more $$ back in our kitty… but this new way of life for us is actually not going to reduce our costs – in fact, in the short term our operational costs will increase. But the gains we will see in other areas are well worth it. 

The time it takes for you to receive your Alf order will reduce significantly, meaning less time that parcel sits on a truck, plane, or in a postie van… meaning you are a happier mama because you don’t have to wait for your purchase, but most importantly: 

Our carbon footprint will reduce:

Instead of our products being manufactured off-shore, then sea shipped to us via Singapore and Melbourne, then over to Perth… only to turn around and have at least 80% of our orders head back across the Nullabor to the east coast of Australia. They will now go directly from our manufacturers to Sydney where they will be stored, picked, and packed for dispatch to you… by our fulfillment partner.

The amount of km our Alf bags will travel in their lives will reduce a significant amount – and I am working on a way to track that reduction in carbon emissions and the impact it will have. 

Our new office is located in Fremantle (WA), which was strategically chosen to be easily accessible to our small team of Alf gals. With at least five of us living close enough to ride our bikes or take public transport to the office.

Our space is smaller, using less power to heat and cool and is conveniently located within easy walking distance to loads of great coffee shops and lunch options, where at the moment we often drive to caffeinate or eat.

The fit-out for our new office is going to be INCREDIBLE… and what’s even better is part of my brief to our interior designer was to reuse as many pieces from our existing warehouse as possible.

We are converting old desks into new tables, reusing storage racking in new ways, upcycling existing office fittings within the new space and turning them into something better and more fun to reduce the amount of ‘stuff’ we needed to buy for the new fit-out.

Needless to say, it’s an exciting time for this business… and I’m excited to bring you all on the ride of us working to become a more sustainable business!