VERDICT: Embroidering clothing and garments through this company is quite sustainable! But bring your own articles to be customized, or stick to their catalog’s “sustainable and organic” section.
Suffolk Insignia is a UK local embroidery company. Ranging from school uniforms to custom umbrellas, Insignia does it all. This company is set apart from others because they can create as many–or as few– customized items as desired, as opposed to companies like CustomInk that tend to have a set minimum number of products to be made. Additionally, Suffolk Insignia connects customers to other products if they do not come in with a pre-bought garment to be customized.
The service itself is incredibly sustainable, as it encourages alterations of preexisting products, saving on resources and product consumption. The business it works with and the associated marketed products, however, could use some work.
In case the customer does not already have a garment that they want to be altered, Suffolk Insignia links customers to a catalog of products that they can choose from. Ranging from stuffed animals to t-shirts, and even to shoes, the customizable products are inherently made of many different materials, many of which are toxic. However, there is a “sustainable and organic” collection of products listed. This collection also includes a wide range of products with a wide range of materials. Some of the listed items include recycled polyester aprons, organic cotton sweaters, or tops consisting of a combination of the two. Although many of the products in this collection are eco-friendly alternatives, there are significantly more products listed on the site that are not. These products contain synthetic materials like polyester that only have negative environmental impacts, as seen through use of fossil fuels through material production and numerous toxic chemicals through the manufacturing and dying process. Some products also contain non-organic cotton, which requires more energy to grow and produce, more chemicals in growing, and results in less healthy soil. Embroidery thread is also made of mostly cotton, but can also be made of silk, wool, or synthetic materials; however, I could not find information regarding which material thread Suffolk Insignia uses.
The company also provides an option for customers to bring in their own articles of clothing to be embroidered and customized. Through this process, there is a way for customers to proceed and use the service in a more sustainable manner.
Suffolk Insignia is a family owned business, and all embroidery is done in their East Anglia production facility. They pride themselves on not outsourcing any of their embroidery projects in order to provide more assured quality services and fast delivery times to their UK customers. To embroider logos and designs correctly, the company uses a computer software. The main concern here is the energy usage of the computers, but considering how often and to what extent computers are used these days, I consider this to be negligible. They did not mention how they package or ship their goods.
As previously mentioned, Suffolk Insignia is a family operated business, and all embroidery services are done on site by the UK-based staff. The outsourced products marketed, however, are from many other companies and made elsewhere. Who makes these other products and the quality of the conditions that they work under vary significantly. Although Suffolk Insignia’s direct practices provide a sustainable alternative option to alter rather than purchase new clothing, the company’s partnerships with unsustainable clothing manufacturers brings Suffolk Insignia’s sustainability rating down.