Welcome to our sustainability report for the past year.
Sustainability can be found on every corner today. For some, it’s a lifestyle, for others an obstacle for economic growth, or simply an empty buzzword. At Freshlabels, we see sustainability as a path to smarter consumption that benefits everyone – companies, employees and customers. And also the environment, which in turn affects the quality of life for each of us. It should be mentioned that there is no such thing as 100% sustainability. However, there are creative and innovative solutions that can change the future for the better. See how we became more sustainable in 2020 and what challenges await us this year.
Sustainability becomes one of the pillars of Freshlabels.
We introduce the first version of our product sustainability assessment.
We sign the PET Free Pledge and give up bottled water for good.
We replace the plastic bubble wrap with shredded cardboard boxes.
We present sustainability at Designblok Prague
and create our first upcycled collection FL C 01.
1. A more transparent and sustainable offer
We believe that the basic properties of responsibly-manufactured products are quality and durability. These are the most effective in the fight against fast fashion and the problems it entails. With this philosophy, Freshlabels was founded in 2006 and we stand behind our ethos to this day. However, some brands are already doing more for a better future for our planet. And we want to give such projects and companies a stronger voice at Freshlabels.
Each brand approaches sustainability and responsibility in its own way. We, therefore, consider it our main task to provide customers with comprehensive and easily-accessible information. After several months of preparations we launched a new transparent sustainability assessment system in spring 2020. Thanks to this system our customers can easily find out what specific steps brands are taking (or not taking) in the field of sustainability and based on that they can decide for themselves whom they will support with their purchase.
What do we inquire about our brands?
Origin of materials
Ethical production and working conditions
Knowledge of supply chain
We then display the obtained information alongside each product of the given brand.
How do we evaluate brands?
Based on the completed and signed questionnaire, we award points. If we encounter an inconsistency, we continue to investigate. We divide all of the brands we carry into four categories, according to their achievements in terms of responsibility and sustainability. Only those brands that reach the two highest categories are presented as sustainable. We evaluate all our brands regularly, so the score can change for better or for worse. More detailed information about our rating system can be found here.
Active brands divided according to their sustainability rating:
* 38 active brands from our offer have not yet filled in our questionnaire. We communicate with brands on an ongoing basis and gradually update the information.
Product offer development
Our evaluation criteria allow us to make better decisions when investing in our product offer. Our goal is to increase the share of investments in products and brands that are more environmentally and ethically responsible.
“In the autumn / winter 2020 season, we invested 50% of our purchasing budget in sustainable brands. For the autumn / winter 2021 season, our goal is to increase this share to 75%.””
— Jakub Veselsky, Co-founder and CEO of Freshlabels
2. Smarter packaging
Packaging is undoubtedly a problem that comes with online shopping. We are therefore looking for solutions that reduce packaging waste and our carbon footprint. We are constantly improving our new packaging so that it is both as recycled and recyclable as possible. Instead of using bubble wrap made of virgin plastic, we use a filling made of shredded used cartons and boxes. We do not give out paper bags in stores for free to avoid unneccesarry waste.
We have launched a box upcycling programme
From June 2020, customers have the opportunity to have their package sent in used upcycled packaging. We obtain boxes for this type of transport both from our customers and from partners who have no further use for them. In this way we cooperate, for example, with companies such as Veolia or Vodafone.
Customer can still opt for new packaging made from recycled materials for a symbolic amount of 0.5 €.
We introduced more sustainable packaging
We managed to find more sustainable plastic parcel bags, which are made from 100% recycled post-consumer plastic waste and are also further recyclable.
We cancelled printed invoices in our parcels
In May 2020, we replaced printed invoices in our parcels with electronic ones.
3. Education and inspiration
A better future depends on cooperation and mutual communication. We want to inspire our customers, colleagues, suppliers and the general public not only towards more meaningful shopping, but also a more sustainable lifestyle. We use all our channels for this: social media, our newsletter, the Discovermag blog as well as our stores.
Sustainability is often quite complex and not always easy to understand. Starting in May 2020, you can find a handy Glossary on the website to help explain the key sustainability terms. You can learn about CSR, greenwashing, sustainable development or the meaning of the most common sustainable certificates.
The sustainability of products depends primarily on the materials from which they were made. Proper care helps to prolong their life cycle. In May 2020, we published a Material Guide on our website. It contains not only basic information about materials (natural and artificial), but also their advantages and disadvantages, environmental impact and information on proper care, such as washing and storage.
Lectures and workshops
We like to learn and pass on information. In 2020, we gave a lecture on sustainability to celebrate the opening of our Freshlabels Sustainable Store, participated in the Sustainable Week at the Manifesto Market in Prague, lectured at the Open Days of Newton College and spoke in a panel discussion on sustainable consumption at the Alta Studio in Prague. We will continue with these kinds of activities as soon as the pandemic situation allows.
4. Freshlabels Sustainable Store
After years of planning, a big dream of ours came true. On May 4, 2020, we opened the first Freshlabels Sustainable Store in Prague’s Letna neighborhood, in which we exclusively carry products that meet our sustainability criteria. Whatever you choose in our store, you can be sure that the products meet the highest ethical and environmental standards.
We collaborated on the interior with the talented studio of Czech architect Lenka Mikova. We kept some original elements of the space and upcycled them into objects with a new look and function. We also reached for innovative materials, such as packwall boards made from recycled and dry-pressed Tetra-Pak. Our vision was to create a durable, yet flexible space. The display furniture, therefore, consists of modular constructions, which allow us to easily rebuild the store, adapt it to current needs and, in time, perhaps even turn it into a completely new space.
Unfortunately, the store remained closed for most of 2020 due to the pandemic and the related measures. We hope the situation will improve soon and we will be able to offer you not only the largest selection of sustainable brands in one place but also workshops, discussions and other events.
In autumn 2020 we launched a pilot version of the Freshlabels Loop project. It works on the principle of repurchasing products that customers have bought from us in the past, but are no longer needed or used. The programme is only available in the Czech Republic at this point.
How does Freshlabels Loop work?
Customers can visit our stores and return products they have bought from us in the last five years if they are still in good condition. Depending on the type of product and brand, we will then issue the customer a so-called Loop credit, which they can use for further purchases.
Why are we doing this?
Although we always choose to sell quality products that will last for many years, it is natural that a customer can outgrow a purchased item – whether in size, cut or style. We want to give such pieces a second chance. We will offer them for further purchase, ensure upcycling or recycling, or donate them to those in need.
“Loop's goal is to extend the life cycle of our products and to save customers the worry of selling or donating fully functional things that could still make another person happy.”
— Jan Bouška, Co-founder and CMO of Freshlabels
Unfortunately, we were slowed down in the project’s development by the pandemic and the inability to return goods to our stores. One of our current priorities is to launch the Freshlabels Loop project remotely as well.