Her Organic Cotton and Kapok Ribbed Cropped Top from Slvr Maple

overall rating:

2.08

planets

Katie McCarthy
7/10/2022
No items found.

This top by Slvr Maple is a cute option for those looking to shop sustainably. Although there are certain aspects that could and should be improved (which we will discuss later), they have multiple innovative practices. Furthermore, they have their own system by which they rate their own products sustainability, which is called the Slvr Maple Leaf Score. By implementing a system by which they can rate sustainability of products, they show that they are a company committed to transparency and the environment. This rating is broken down into 5 categories: water management, sustainable material, waste management, energy management, and manufacturing. With 5 being the highest score possible, they have given the ribbed cropped top a 4.7. Slvr Maple also demonstrates their dedication to the planet and their employees by contributing to charities and being members of environmental coalitions, such as 1% for the Planet. Overall, it’s clear that Slvr Maple wants to lead by example for other companies looking to be sustainable, but they themselves should continue to improve their own policies in order to be truly sustainable. Specifically, they need to improve upon how their items are made by working on having their supply chain more sustainable and less carbon intensive. By taking a lens of circularity, inclusivity, and sustainability, Slvr Maple provides cute, although simplistic and relatively expensive, products for those looking for environmentally friendly clothing options. 

 

What it's made of:

2.5

This ribbed crop top by Slvr Maple is made of 82% organic cotton, 15% kapok, and 3% elastane. 

 

By opting for organic cotton rather than non-organic, Slvr Maple chooses to use a material that was not grown using pesticides, insecticides, genetically modified crops, or mechanized farming practices. However, pesticides and insecticides cause mass environmental harm and can also pose health risks to humans. These environmental chemicals have been linked to issues such as immune suppression, reproductive abnormalities, and cancer. Pesticide use in agriculture has impacted the environment because of the contamination of surface water and groundwater, soil degradation, unintentional exposure to non-target plants and animals, which can cause harm towards these organisms (and can possibly result in death). By not utilizing pesticides Slvr Maple also avoids degrading soil at a faster rate. Deforestation is commonly caused by the need for agriculture, so keeping the soil usable longer by not using chemicals like pesticides helps reduce the rate of expansion into nature. Because Slvr Maple has chosen to use a material that does not use these chemicals during the growing process, they are not contributing to these harmful side-effects of pesticides. Furthermore, the organic cotton used to create the fabric is not genetically modified. This is beneficial and adds to their planet score because target organisms, like pests or weeds, can become resistant to the modifications meant to harm them. Lastly, organic cotton avoids mechanized farming practices, which means there is little-to-no machinery that relies on fossil fuels to run. Compared to traditional cotton, organic cotton uses 91% less water, reduces levels of water pollution by 98%, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 46%. These are all beneficial aspects of organic cotton because they all reduce the strain put on the environment by human action.

 

This product also uses kapok in its fabric, which is an all-natural, renewable, silk-esque material. It’s also cruelty-free, biodegradable, hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, pesticide-free, and odor-free. As previously mentioned, being pesticide-free is a big plus when it comes to material. Furthermore, being anti-microbial and hypoallergenic, this fabric is inclusive to a wider range of consumers. One aspect of sustainability is that it has been historically led by people of higher socioeconomic status, which are often not representative of all people. By making this fabric safer for all consumers, they have made sustainability an option for more people, as it should be. A sustainable future is one in which no single person is left behind, so inclusivity is a large factor of true sustainability. Kapok comes from the seed pods that fall from the kapok tree. The kapok tree has hard spikes on its trunk, so there is no need for pesticide use, nor genetic modification. Blending cotton with kapok can also save 750 liters of water per t-shirt made. Kapok is considered to be the most sustainable fiber available because it leaves close to no human footprint.  

 

Unfortunately, this product does partially use elastane, which is a synthetic fiber made from fossil fuels. The manufacturing of elastane is a very chemical-heavy process. For example, because of the synthetic nature of the fabric, synthetic dyes must be used, which are the most polluting factor in textile production. Like other synthetic fabrics, elastane is not biodegradable and it produces microplastics when it sheds. Fortunately, only 3% of this product uses elastane, so the impact is minimized. However, to truly be sustainable, Slvr Maple should look at more environmentally-friendly alternatives to elastane. 

 

As previously mentioned Slvr Maple also provides their own rating of their products, based on 5 different factors. One of these factors is the sustainability of the material used. For the ribbed long sleeve cropped top, the material was ranked at a mid-level for sustainability. It’s refreshing to see a company that is marketed as eco-friendly be as transparent as Slvr Maple is. It’s clear that they understand the true goal behind a sustainable future, and want to contribute to that, even if they must admit their shortcomings.

How it's made:

1.75

 Slvr Maple doesn’t offer much information about how their products are made on their website. However, there is some information provided that helps us piece together the conditions of their supply chain and distribution processes. Firstly, as mentioned in the introduction, Slvr Maple rates its own products based on 5 different factors, 4 of which are waste management, energy management, water management, and manufacturing. Each of these factors received a mid-high to high rating for this product, with energy management receiving a perfect score. Unfortunately, I was not able to view the information that is supposed to give a deeper understanding of how the rating is determined. However, Slvr Maple has shown that they are a decently trustworthy company, so I am inclined to trust their review process. Furthermore, they have implemented an option at checkout that allows customers to purchase carbon credits through 3Degrees. This makes both their shipping and returns net zero carbon for less than 1 USD. I appreciate the push to make a purchase net zero carbon, but credits are not the best way to go about this. Carbon credits are like putting a bandaid on a bullet wound. It doesn’t address the cause of the problem, which is the release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, but rather tries to fix the result of the problem. Furthermore, carbon credits should either be incorporated into the price or absorbed as a cost by the company. This way, sustainability is the standard, not just an option. Ideally the company would absorb this cost, rather than the consumer, because these products are already expensive. 

 

Slvr Maple uses packaging made by RePack. Therefore, each package has a return label built in, so it can be sent back to be reused anywhere from 30-40 times. When thinking of the three Rs, they are presented in order of importance. Reducing consumption and subsequent waste is the best because it starts the problem at the source. Next is reuse, which is what RePack enables rather than having the consumer resort to the third (and worst) R: recycling. Creative innovations like this allow companies to take a step towards a sustainable future. 

Overall, the lack of information available about exactly how their products are made has led this score to be low. However, this company shows great potential and is an example of a business that genuinely wants to be sustainable.

Who makes it:

2

Once again, it was hard to find exact information about who makes the product, but there is a clear and present dedication to its workers. They acknowledge the importance of those who make their products, so they reinvest 10% of profits into uplifting garment workers. However, there is no explanation of how exactly this money is reinvested. Slvr Maple’s products, including the ribbed long sleeve cropped top, are Fair Trade, which means they must adhere to rigorous standards needed to receive this label. They must pay the Fairtrade Minimum Price for labor and the premium. Their product must also be traceable through diligent record-keeping and transparency in trade relations. Furthermore, we can infer from the Fair-Trade label this product holds, that there was no discriminatory employment practices and no exploitative child labor used in the creation of the long-sleeve (or other products made by Slvr Maple). There are also environmental standards set by the Fair-Trade certification that must be adhered to. These environmental requirements include a ban on dangerous pesticides and genetically modified seeds, as well as ensuring the protection of natural resources and encouraging cultivation practices that are environmentally friendly.

 

Slvr Maple is partnered with One Tree Planted, so they plant one Silver Maple Tree for each purchase. Typically, mass-tree planting can be worse for the environment than meets the eye, but it seems as though One Tree Planted practices reforestation in a productive and environmentally beneficial way. Slvr Maple is also a member of 1% for the Planet, which is a global network of companies that donate 1% of sales to environmental non-profits. Not only does Slvr Maple work with nonprofits, but they are also committed to inclusivity. With sizes ranging from XXS to XXXL for the ribbed long-sleeve, it’s clear that Slvr Maple is dedicated to being a size-inclusive brand, which makes sustainability available to everyone. However, the downfall of inclusivity in Slvr Maple is the cost of their products because it’s not inclusive of people with lower socioeconomic status. Some products are more affordable than others, the long sleeve being one of the more affordable options. It’s important for sustainable products to be available to everyone, no matter socioeconomic status because a sustainable future should be for all people. The sustainability movement is also one that is historically white and having expensive products when people of color are disproportionately part of low-income communities is disappointing.