NAADAM

overall rating:

2.76

planets

Marissa Gailitis
3/31/2022
No items found.

VERDICT: Lots of really cool and sustainable product options in this company!

 NAADAM is a relatively new company, made in 2013, that started when two guys made friends with individuals in a nomadic herding community in Mongolia.  The company was designed to support these local communities while providing affordable high-quality products by cutting out the middle man in the cashmere wool trade.  Working directly with the nomadic herders in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, NAADAM is able to sell their premium cashmere and merino products for lower prices, while paying the herding communities much more. 

What it's made of:

2.8

As the company was based around connecting with the local cashmere goat herders, most of the materials used in the garments are genuine long-fiber cashmere.  However, they also offer a variety of materials and material blends in different products for different outcomes (ex. A lighter sweater, or a warmer jacket), and 100% of all materials come from recycled or renewable resources.  Even their packaging is made of 100% recycled plastic with non-toxic chemicals.

 First, in addition to the standard cashmere, NAADAM uses recycled cashmere to make products.  To create this, NAADAM takes the material cashmere waste from the manufacturing phase of their normal cashmere products, and respins the wool, so it functions as good as new while reducing waste.

 Second, NAADAM also offers products made of a merino-cashmere blend.  This uses wool sourced from sheep in Australia, blended with their usual cashmere.  I found a puffer jacket on their website that uses this blend, and I was pleased to see that it is filled with recycled polyester– the most sustainable way to use polyester.

 Third, NAADAM offers products with a “cafe cotton blend”.  I did not know what this meant; I thought that maybe it is meant to be worn out to a cute cafe?  Turns out, I wasn’t too far off!  This blend uses a combination of recycled coffee grounds, cotton, and a bit of their cashmere.    This blew my mind–I’ve never heard of using coffee as a source for fiber materials before!  

 To increase transparency with customers for more educated decisions, NAADAM also includes the sources of each material that goes into the fibers next to all of the products on their website.  Included in this is a breakdown of how the fibers are made, and what qualities they bring to the garment (ex. How breathable it is, whether or not it is lightweight, etc.) further down on the same page.  This information is great, but I would really love to see more information on the origins of other materials used in garments, where NAADAM is not directly overseeing the raw material production process.  For example, the website lists that the Merino wool in their merino-cashmere blend comes from Australia, but where in Australia?  Where does NAADAM get their coffee grounds to make their cafe-cotton blended garments?

 NAADAM, as mentioned in the 2020 Social and Environmental Impact Report, donates returned and damaged products to the nonprofit organization Green Tree Textiles, which takes unrepairable articles of clothing and gives them to rag manufacturers.  In the same report, the company states that they are continuing to explore options for using their products post-consumer use as recycled materials to be used in new NAADAM products to maximize the materials’ use value and increase circularity.  Some constraints in this process, however, is how environmentally taxing this process is and how durable the recycled materials would be.  I find this a bit confusing, because NAADAM is already recycling cashmere during the manufacturing process, so I do not see how recycling it in this stage would be any more or less environmentally taxing.  Though, the company does sell products made of various different materials, to which I definitely see the posed constraint.  Regardless, I look forward to seeing the progress that gets made on this front.

 To move beyond their direct, immediate supply chain, the founders of NAADAM recognized the long term environmental impacts from the increase in demand for Mongolian cashmere.  The increase in goats to meet this demand would result in overgrazing-caused grassland desertification.  In response to this threat, NAADAM has made a large (“the size of Manhattan”) grassland protected area to slow this process and maintain native grassland biodiversity.

How it's made:

2.5

The cashmere wool that is used in all of the cashmere products are derived from hand-combing goats.  One cashmere sweater can be made from combing four goats!  The website also notes that the goats are not sheared because it puts a lot of stress on the animals.  Additionally, little to no textile waste is made through reprocessing scrap cashmere in the manufacturing phase to be used to create recycled cashmere products.

 Additionally, NAADAM plans to be carbon neutral through reducing energy, making offset investments, and using renewable energy by 2025.  Through this plan, goals, efforts, and actual progress have been clearly documented and communicated in the company’s annual Social and Environmental Impact Reports.  These reports show the active efforts, goals, and constraints for the years leading up to and including the year of the report’s publishing.  This thorough information proves that the company is remaining transparent while holding itself accountable as it actively works towards their goals throughout becoming more sustainable.

 From their 2020 report (the most recent progress report on their website), NAADAM provided lots of information about their facilities and manufacturing process.  Among this information, I learned that Items are dyed through closed-loop water systems, with on-site wastewater treatment facilities, decreasing pollution and new water consumption.

Additionally, one of their primary suppliers is a Global Organic Textile Standard certified facility, meaning that its dyes don’t contain hazardous or toxic chemicals.  This was fascinating to learn, but it made me question their other facilities’ toxin levels?  Why are all of their facilities not on this same certification level, and how could NAADAM get them to that high level?

 In terms of emissions, the company is making active progress.  In 2019 they calculated how much carbon dioxide that they emit through their shipping process, and in 2020 they began offsetting these emissions through the non-profit organization “Carbon Fund,” which helps companies offset CO2 and GHG emissions.  

Who makes it:

3

NAADAM has labor standards that they implement throughout their supply chain to protect all of their workers. 

 The raw cashmere materials are derived from the nomadic goat herding community in the Mongolia Gobi desert.  NAADAM works directly with the herders so that the herders get paid more for their labor and products are able to be sold for cheaper.  Additionally, employees in the company have monthly courses and trainings on aspects such as harassment and diversity and inclusion.  

 To give back to this community, NAADAM has done a number of things.  First, they set up a clean water source and a park for the many members of the community in the Gobi Desert area through the Gobi Revival Fund.  Additionally, they created a livestock insurance program to ensure that the herders are okay should anything happen to their goats.  Additionally, NAADAM worked with KhanBogd to found the Naadam Bogd Fund, a Mongolian based NGO to protect local sourcing partners and support Nomadic herding communities.  Through this fund 10% of profit generated from NAADAM’s sale page goes towards funding veterinarians and breeding specialists to aid the local herders.  Through the use of this fund, the herding community gains financial support and security, the goats are ensured wellbeing, and culture is also preserved.