SUSTAINABILITY Q&A

Här svarar vi på massor av frågor om hållbarhet och våra strumpor, och vi gör det på engelska för att så många som möjligt ska kunna förstå. 

What do we mean when we say circular? 

In a circular economy, waste is minimised as materials are reused and recycled to reduce environmental impact. It means using less and less "virgin" materials, and more recycled materials, possible to renew and reuse over and over again. This is a must as we are exhausting our natural resources and won't have enough to supply everyone on this planet with even the most basic necessities in the future if we don't. That's why we think its so important to take such a harmful product group and disrupt their linear patterns, creating a future for basics that is sustainable = circular. With that said, if a company says they are circular, you should get suspicious, because IT'S COMPLICATED. 


What is the definition of sustainable? 

Being sustainable is absolutely not - for example - just using organic cotton. That should be the bare minimum for every brand using cotton at all. The word is used way to often by way to many companies without genuine sustainable ambitions. A sustainable product should be a product where every part of its making and being has been valued and processed to be "better". It's the process of being mindful from start to finish. For example looking at origin choosing raw materials, designing for longevity (as much as possible for these sort of products with a shorter life span), minimizing impact in production processes and the use of harmful chemicals, requiring good working standards, minimizing transportation, minimizing packaging of the products, use communication to inform and encourage customers how to make better choices and how to care for their products, and of course the toughest bit - reuse and recycle as much as possible. Something that hasn't been done for this product group and is a real challenge due to their content and mix of materials. Most people think the fashion business is further ahead than it is, probably because our consumer brains have been greenwashed, and there's a lack of "standard" for what is reasonable to call sustainable or not. 

 

Can a replenishment/subscription model really be sustainable?  

Yes, for the sort of product you need to renew - absolutely. But we are also super clear in communicating to our customers that it's possible to pause, cancel or speed up your delivery frequency whenever. We don't want to overdeliver, we want to make it easy and really convenient to get you your most essential basics, basically. It's also a part of the strategy to get people to chose us - a more sustainable alternative - by making it easier to be sustainable. 

 

What happens when I throw my old socks and underwear in the bin?

Depending on where you live, this means they might be burned with the trash for energy, otherwise they could be sitting in a landfill for very many years. Considering the impacts of their production (for example: the land for growing the cotton; the energy to process the raw materials, to make the yarns, to knit the socks, etc). Saying it's "a shame" is an understatement. 

 

Why do you use organic cotton?

Organic cotton is grown without the use of chemicals or genetically modified crops. Less than 1% of the cotton in the world is organic. We have chosen organic cotton for our SO-01 to reduce the amount of chemicals used in our production.

 

Why do you use virgin polyamide and elastane?

We must use both polyamide and elastane in our socks to have the performance and durability we require. The polyamide provides stability and strength and the elastane gives the stretch that makes the socks stay up. We are working toward having more recycled polyamide and recycled elastane in our products, but recycled fibres are limited on the market, which means our suppliers cannot always offer them at the right quantity for a smaller brand like Soun.

 

Where does your recycled polyamide come from?

In our SO-01, the recycled polyamide comes from pre-consumer waste. (Meaning that it is waste from manufacturing of polyamide that is recycled into other polyamide yarns). In our SO-02, the recycled polyamide also comes from pre-consumer waste and is made in a process that uses less C02, water, and energy than in the production of virgin polyamide. We love recycled fibres because we value taking something that could be considered waste and giving it a new life.

 

Where are your socks made?

All production is in Italy in two different family run factories. Both have a large commitment to sustainable production and good working standards. 

 

Will you offer other models of socks?

Yes! We want to make sure that there’s a Soun sock for all of your needs. We are currently sampling four more sock models and will include them as part of our subscriptions as soon as they’re ready. Our pilots will get to test these new products and make sure that we can give you what you need in the future and help us make the products possible. 

 

Are you vegan?

We have a big commitment and love for animals, and will never contribute do them any harm. But we use some waste materials that origin from animals. This is such an important issue for us and for the future. We talked and talked and talked before we decided that we should use these waste materials to create more purpose for the animals that at some point were used to produce raw materials, making sure that it didn't go to waste (literally). 

 

What size fits me?

Our socks are unisex - follow your shoe size to find the sock that fits you. There is only one thing regarding sizing and it's the fact that we have made our socks longer than most calf high socks, making sure they do not end lower than pants (because we hate when that happens). But with that said, if you (for example) have real nice big calf muscles you might think the shaft is a bit too tight. You can of course just shove them down a bit, but let us know if you experience this problem, it might be something we need to think about in the future and offer another sock with wider shaft or so. 

 

How do I care for my socks?

Our socks are designed to be durable, but the better you treat them, the longer they will last. The lower temperatures are always better, so to make them last longer means not using the highest temperatures in the washing machine and avoiding the tumble dryer if you can. (This is also better for the environment, as well!)

For our organic cotton socks (SO-01), wash them at 30 degrees in the machine and either tumble dry low or hang to dry. 

For our recycled nylon rib socks (SO-02), wash them at 30 degrees, ideally in a wash bag, and hang to dry if possible. 

  

What do you do with my old basics? 

We store them for now, to collect more volume. We need a certain quantity of old basics returned to us before we can launch the recycling "production". We will do trials to explore the best possible outcome as well. We plan to make a new product from your old basics. We will share more info about our process, exploration, research, and learnings as we develop something new from your old basics. Stay tuned! 

 

Why don’t all brands take back their old garments?

Unfortunately, the system is not set up in a way that makes it easy for brands to take back their old garments—and even if they do, there are many challenges when it comes to actually making those old products into something new.  

A couple of challenges are due to the fibre mixes used in our clothes. Fibres are mixed together in garments to give us better performance or aesthetic properties, but depending on what fibres are combined, it is not always possible to recycle or repurpose the material. On top of that, when garments are “ready” for recycling, it is often after they have been used for some years, so that the tag informing what fibres are contained in the garment has been cut off. And this creates another hurdle as recyclers need to know what fibres are in the garment in order to know how to recycle the material. But even if the tag showing which fibres are in the garments is still in place, the technology enabling us to evaluate and sort the garments based on fibre content is still emerging and so the sorting of garments based on the fibres they contain can be a slow process. 

The Truth is...
Due to these complexities, many brands that do take back their old garments are not actually able to sort and recycle them. So the garments they collect often end up being sent to developing countries where they are downcycled into rags or even burned. The shame in this is that another transport footprint has been created to send these garments to another part of the globe only to be burned, when they could at least have been burned for energy in the country where they were originally collected. And it’s also a shame that consumers “donate” their garments and think they are being recycled when they actually are not. 

We look forward to engaging with you more about the challenges of take-back and recycling of old products within the fashion industry in the months to come, as we make our way in a more circular direction.