Sustainability at Merry People

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Sustainability at Merry People - Merry People US

Our Sustainability Journey

 

At Merry People, we aim to be transparent in how we do business. We always want to create products that are purposeful and perform, while minimising the footprint we leave on the world around us. 

This is important to us as our business objective is to create a more merry world. We want to leave a positive impact on those who touch and wear our brand, but also on the earth that our boots are made to explore. 

We are doing some things well, but as a growing business, the evolution of technology and materials has enabled scope for further improvement. We have also grown from a very small business to a medium size business with our factory which has allowed us to open up new conversations for sustainable developments.

What we are doing well:

  • Merry People never overproduce. We always sell out and often sell our products via pre-order. We never send our product to landfills, we donate wearable stock and are working on recycling solutions.
  • We aim to make quality products that have purpose and perform for our customers and offer a 12-month warranty 
  • We never go on sale and don’t subscribe to ‘Black Friday’ type sale days and promote conscious purchasing 
  • We request external audits from our factories, only working with those that pass from social, ethical and environmental standpoints. We shared behind-the-scenes production videos and have always been willing to answer customer questions about our design and manufacturing process. 
  • All our natural rubber is moving to FSC accreditation 
  • All our product packaging is recyclable and biodegradable and made from partly recycled materials 
  • We ensure through accredited materials testing that there are no banned substances in our products

Whilst we are doing these things well, we have areas we want to further improve. We have recently recruited someone to our board to help us map out further areas of improvement what it means to us to be a sustainable brand and help us create a road map into the future to ensure we are not just ‘ticking a sustainability box’ but rather creating a product and manner of working that is sustainable for years to come.  A brand that our children and future generations would be proud and merry to wear! 

This is a big area of focus for us in 2022 and we hope to present a more detailed report on our journey and future objectives.

I would love to hear your feedback as we go through this journey.

Dani Holloway, Founder & CEO Merry People xx

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Our Production

To ensure Merry People products are long-lived wardrobe staples, we work with one of the top production factories for footwear to fabricate our boots.  It is a family-run factory in China with whom we have built a close relationship. Through their robust supplier network, we have been able to source high-quality natural rubber, neoprene, and vegan glue to craft our Merry People boots. All our materials are certified vegan friendly. 

This factory is considered one of the preeminent manufacturers of rubber boots, producing for many of the top brands, and we are honoured that they agreed to take us on - especially when we were a fledgling brand in 2014.

To this day, we work closely with them and our agents, communicating regularly to ensure employees are paid a living wage and have a safe and healthy work environment. Beyond business, we consider them friends, and you can see more on our Blog from when our founder Dani went to their son’s wedding.

We have been asked before about why we don’t produce in Australia.  The reason is two-fold:

First, we did try! When we were first getting started, we sought out the Australian boot manufacturers certified by Ethical Clothing Australia.  Some factories never replied to our enquiries while others declined. The reasons for saying no included being at capacity and unable to take on new brands; not having the equipment necessary to produce our designs; not having the size and scale to produce our boots in quantity, or they were dedicated in-house production facilities for specific brands. 

Second, tied into the above issues is the reality that like with many industries, Australian production has mostly shifted off-shore, making on-shore options expensive. As a startup, our budget was limited and we were unable to build our own production facility or purchase the necessary equipment to adapt existing facilities.  Accordingly, we looked abroad and were lucky to find our current factory. 

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Our Materials

We produce our boots using natural rubber for the outer, neoprene for the lining, and vegan glue to bind.  Our materials are sourced for us by our factory and we are in the process of mapping all Tiers of our supply chain to fully tell the story of Merry People from a design idea to your feet. 

To ensure consistent quality, our boots are made from virgin natural rubber and neoprene, a process that bears its innate costs and benefits (much like leather). Ultimately, we believe strongly that the consistent quality, longevity, and effectiveness of these materials make them the right choices for us. 

But as we grow as a brand we are exploring the potential of incorporating recycled neoprene into our design - which would likely result in some very fun limited runs of unique boots! We are also looking into using plant-based neoprene and if that can be done in a way that is still affordable for our customers. 

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Our Social Responsibility

We’re always working to ensure our Merry Products are produced under safe, fair, legal, and humane working conditions. This means we visit our production factory, chatting with both the owners and our agent to monitor.  While our factory is subject to international audits due to requirements of other brands they work with, we do not want to rely on the reporting of others and we are in the process of mapping our supply chain to tell the full story.

Giving Back

Being a start-up, we are well aware that most businesses fail in the first couple of years. We have been working to put all our financial efforts to create a sustainable business model. We have donated to charities along the journey where possible and offered our boots as a prize for local schools to raise money. 

In 2019, we were in the happy position to give a generous financial amount to Hagar, an Australian based charity that works to stop the cycle of human trafficking, slavery, and abuse that exploits women and children in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Vietnam.  

Following the 2020 summer of bushfires which greatly impacted our home state of Victoria, we committed to supporting bushfire impacted areas and businesses.  We have donated to relevant charities, spent our strategy day in the town of Beechworth, Victoria, and celebrated affected makers through our Mothers Day competition.  We plan to continue helping these communities and businesses throughout the year. 

Further, as we continue to stabilise and grow as a business, we will (hopefully this year!) formalise an alignment with a couple of grassroots charities that align with our values.

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Our Environmental Responsibility

At Merry People, we are committed to minimising our waste and environmental footprint. We monitor sales of all sizes and styles carefully to ensure we can properly forecast demand and produce accordingly.  While this does sometimes result in us selling out and going into pre-orders, this also means we don’t end up with wasted boots in landfills.  

As anyone who has received our boots know, we use minimal packaging and we are working to streamline this even more.  At the moment, our boot box is from Micro-Pack, LDPE Recyclable.  The boots come with one Thank You/Care card, printed double-sided on recycled paper, with information on how to keep the boots lasting for years and one piece of tissue paper.  The boots are shipped in either a postal satchel or recycled postal box depending on where they are shipped from.  

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Our mission at Merry People is to craft an exceptional product and provide an experience that makes you feel inspired to be a little more adventurous in your day-to-day. This mission has not been undertaken lightly, but rather slowly and conscientiously that aims to do our best for our community and environment.  This effort does mean that our boots are more expensive than other rain boots, but we hope you can wear them countless times throughout the year, lowering the price per wear and the environmental footprint.  As always, if you ever have any questions, please feel free to email us at support@merrypeople.com. 

More Adventures to explore.