One Year | 500 Trees Planted | Over £100,000 donated to Charity
A Note From Emma
To Our Community,
That’s a second full year of our Positive Impact Pledge all wrapped up and we’re so excited to share what your purchases achieved. Our pledge commits 2% of our annual revenue to charity, and thanks to you, over £100,000 was donated to charity in 2021. Yep, we can’t quite believe how big that number is either!
Our pledge was introduced back in 2019 so that we could turn good intentions into action. Through it, 1% of each of your purchases is donated to environmental charities, like Cool Earth, which protects the environment, and 1% goes to humanitarian charities, like Givewell, which support those in need.
Our blankets are symbolic of our mission statement - share warmth - and we mean it in every sense of the word: physically, emotionally and socially. We want The Tartan Blanket Co. to have a positive impact, and to always be bettering lives and our planet.
We’ve always been passionate about using business as a force for good through creative approaches. After spending the first five years getting our brand off the ground, we were finally able to envision a structure that would build a positive impact into the very foundation of what we do. The two biggest decisions we made were donating from our total revenue instead of just our profit, and making our donation based on a percentage so that as our small business grew, our positive impact would grow, too.
Now, two and a half years after introducing this pledge, it’s pretty unbelievable that we were able to donate over £100,000. While it feels like our biggest achievement to date, it’s only thanks to you, our TBCo. Community, that it was possible.
Thank you for believing in us, shopping with us and helping us give back. Thank you for investing in natural materials. Thank you for not only taking care of your loved ones with sustainable gifts, but also taking care of the planet and those in need. Thank you for sharing warmth and showing love.
We’re full of gratitude for being welcomed into your hearts and homes, and all the growth and learning that came from 2021. Here’s to whatever comes next and all that 2022 is to bring! We’ve got a good feeling about this one.
Emma & The TBCo. Team
Your Purchase Our Pledge
2% of your purchase, which means 2% of our annual revenue, is donated to charities that help care for our planet and charities that help those most in need. Choosing to base our donation on a percentage means that with every order, every new product and every hour spent growing TBCo., we will create a bigger, more positive impact on the world and use our business as a force for good through supporting meaningful organisations.
In 2021, Your Purchases Supported…
Charities for the Planet
As a family-run business, we’re deeply aware of the future we’re creating for our children. It isn’t enough to just neutralise our footprint, let’s work together to leave a positive handprint.
- Cool Earth works alongside rainforest communities to halt deforestation and its impact on climate change. From setting up an in-country team to working directly with communities and local NGOs to develop their capacity, their partnerships are community-led and adaptable to each location.
“It’s supporters like The Tartan Blanket Co. that ensure Cool Earth continues to develop, share and scale-up the best ways to protect the rainforest through community-led conservation. This is an incredibly challenging time for international charities, and the donation TBCo. gifted is particularly welcome” - Magda Pieta, Business Development Coordinator at Cool Earth
- World Land Trust is an international conservation charity that protects the world’s most biologically significant and threatened habitats acre by acre. By donating to World Land Trust’s Action Fund, they are able to act quickly, whenever and wherever urgent conservation action is needed.
- Through partnership with Treeapp, your purchases contributed to fighting deforestation, with over 500 planting trees. Not only does deforestation lead to the loss of habitats and the extinction of tens of thousands of species worldwide, it also destroys sources of carbon capture, soil stabilisation, and water regulation. There are lots of different approaches to this problem. But it's only by planting trees that we can increase carbon capture, revitalise species and provide social and economic benefits to local communities.
Charities for People
This past year, we donated 1% of our revenue to charities supporting those in need, both locally and globally:
- Sewadham Ashram is an integral part of the community for our Indian partner mills who weave our Recycled Wool blankets. It is an inter-faith non-partisan voluntary organisation providing lifetime shelter and rehabilitation with due love, care and compassion for the homeless, helpless, mentally ill, dying and disabled people coming from across India without any discrimination of caste, creed, region, age and gender.
- Women for Women helps women to build skills, knowledge and resources so that they can forge their own path and achieve long term security and self-reliance. Women are supported to start businesses, build support networks, and to take on leadership roles in their communities.
- Givewell is an independent nonprofit focused on helping people do as much good as possible with their donations. By supporting their Maximum Impact Fund, your purchase contributes towards charities with urgent needs.
- Mind makes sure no one has to face a mental health problem alone through providing advice and support, alongside campaigning to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
- Anthony Nolan Fund makes lifesaving connections between patients in need and incredible strangers ready to donate their stem cells. They’re working to cure blood cancer through recruiting potential donors, funding ground-breaking research, and providing the best post-transplant care from clinical nurses.
- U-evolve works with young people and front line professionals delivering a range of services to support young people to live happy and fulfilled lives through delivering a long term, pioneering blend of tailored therapy and person centred coaching.
- Dundee Bairns is a children’s charity, supporting community projects that are in areas of high multiple deprivation to help the most vulnerable children. They challenge food inequality for children and to provide nutritious meals, as well as other basic needs, thus reducing pressure on parents to provide and helping to boost community cohesion.
- Women’s Aid is a grassroots federation working together to provide life-saving services and build a future where domestic violence is not tolerated through aid, campaigning, support and education.
- Social Good Connect makes volunteering simple by connecting people with their perfect volunteering opportunities through a digital search and match technology. Together, we created the Share-Warmth-A-Thon and the TBCo community pledged 1,000 hours towards volunteering.
Positive Impact Company
Even though wool itself is a natural, biodegradable fibre, not all man made practices around the wool industry are sustainable and that’s why our suppliers matter. Before we started this journey, we thought all wool was ethical, especially since there seems to be so much of it in Scotland. We’ve learned a lot since then, and now recognise that the way that wool is collected and sheep are reared varies hugely around the world and, therefore, where our wool comes from is incredibly important to us. For example, New Zealand has outlawed mulesing (removal of easily infected skin around the buttocks of a sheep) but Australia has not. So if we were to source wool from either of these countries, it’s important for us to understand the full traceability of how those sheep are treated - even down to the farm.
We’ve refined our supply chain to work with partner mills who we truly believe in, and who also believe in us and our mission in return. We’ve chosen to focus on animal-first farming methods and using recycled materials. We decided to discontinue manufacturing in places where traceability became a bit too blurred or the wool sourcing was unclear, and focused on a more transparent route where the visibility is straightforward and easy for us (and you!) to access.
All our recycled wool comes from India. There is a huge textile recycling industry in India where countries around the world, including the UK and US, ship their unwanted textiles. We’ve not been able to find anything comparable anywhere else in the world. Old clothing and textiles are sorted by colour, broken down and respun into new yarn which can then be woven into blankets. By sorting the items into colours the amount of dying required is significantly reduced. Blue jumpers become blue yarn, which is woven into blue blankets. Some colours (whites and blacks) are not dyed at all. If any additional dying is required, safe AZO free dyes are used to ensure vibrant, long-lasting colour.
When the recycled woollen fibres get broken down for respinning, they become quite short which can be difficult for weaving. Mixing them with other recycled fibres, such as polyester from the production waste of synthetic spinning plants or unwanted recycled clothing add strength, allowing for a dense and durable weave that is even machine washable.
By working closely with our trusted partner mills in India, where 50% of the population earn less than $400/month, we are able to create a large positive impact. For example, one order of 1,000 blankets may provide work for around 50 people for a month in India, while in the UK it could provide work for 5 people for a week as we rely more heavily on machines and automation. Our partner mills in India employ a large, primarily female workforce to hand finish the fringing on our blankets, and it’s not because it’s faster or better. In fact, it’s slower and results in a few more irregularities, but relying on people instead of efficient machinery allows us to support a community in need of female work opportunities.
All of our lambswool and cashmere comes from Inner Mongolia. We chose to work here as the climate and native breeds of sheep and coats creates some of the most luxuriously soft wool on the planet. Working with our Inner Mongolian partners means we also get to tap into the whole community process. The farmers who rear the animals, the spinners who spin the yarn and the weavers who create the blankets are all part of a single interdependent community - often part of the same family. By having everything happening in one place it’s much easier for a small company like us to visit and have visibility into the whole process. Their people-led traditional farming methods not only support the community’s primary industry, it also means that the sheep and goats get much more individual attention and are cared for better as a result.
By partnering with communities and farms which keep production at the wool source, there isn’t far to travel from farm to mill for TBCo.’s scarves and blankets, reducing the carbon footprint associated with logistics.
Sustainability is woven into the very nature of wool, as it’s renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable. On top of all of these amazing properties, wool is known for its durability and long lifespan. Fibres can bend up to 20,000 times before breaking (as a comparison, cotton can only bend 3,000 times).
Our recycled wool is woven in India from 100% recycled articles of clothing, with at least 70% wool content. Each Recycled Wool Blanket saves an average of 6 garments from landfill.
Lambswool & Cashmere
Our lambswool and cashmere is sourced from animal-first farms in Inner Mongolia which prioritise traditional farming methods.Pet Blankets
After considering how we could use leftover fabric from our mills (and noticing just how much our pets were claiming our blankets), we introduced our pet blankets. These utilise twice recycled wool offcuts that would otherwise be discarded.
TBCo orders arrive in fully recyclable packaging. Our boxes, swing tickets and product labels are made from FSC certified materials and repurposed where possible. Our gift notes and cashmere sock bands are crafted from 100% recycled paper. Our inbound shipments utilise paper tape and paper bubble wrap.
At TBCo, we believe that every bit counts and sometimes the most significant impact comes from the smallest changes, which is why we are constantly reviewing our operations. Sometimes the best actions we can deliver start with our internal structures.
As we move forward as a business, we are prioritising sea freight, especially for our large orders. Sea freight may be a slower alternative, but it’s more environmentally friendly than air alternatives and is definitely well worth the wait.
At our offices and warehouse in Edinburgh, all improvements are made with the most sustainable choice in mind - for example, our electricity is 100% renewable through electric and infrared heating. By opting to go with an energy supplier that shared our commitment to having an eco-friendly presence, we have been able to carbon offset our gas and take advantage of renewable electricity.
Across both locations, we are conscious of the amount of paper our staff use and so opt to work paperless, with advanced file-sharing systems allowing us to communicate without the need for printed materials. Invoices to customers and from suppliers are all sent online, so there are no delivery slips or receipts that go out with our orders. When any cardboard or paper waste is created, particularly in our warehouse, we work with a local business to have it collected and recycled at the same time - meaning none of it ends up in a landfill.
We also encourage conscious purchasing behaviour with our customers and clients, for example, if a hotel has bought new design blankets to replace older ones, we help them locate recycling centres for textiles or identify charities that are in need of products. We often open up discussions with customers and clients on slow fashion and conscious consumerism.
This year our business has received a number of accolades that highlight the incredible work we do, from the design and creation of our wool products to the way we work as a team. In the last twelve months, we’ve won or been finalists for:
Great British Entrepreneur Awards: Sustainable Entrepreneurs of the Year (Won)
“This award recognises an entrepreneur that is committed to creating quality products or services in a sustainable way, helping to tackle the climate crisis and educate consumers or clients.”
Great British Entrepreneur Awards: Creative Entrepreneurs of the year (Won)
“This award will be awarded to an entrepreneur driving a business whose output is the unique product of the human imagination”
Livingetc Design Awards - Lambswool Baby Blankets (Won)
Livingetc Editor, Pip McCormac said: “This super soft blanket is temperature regulating, breathable, hypoallergenic and the perfect size for a cot or pram. The palette just feels right for now too - soothing but pretty. A good quality baby blanket is an ideal gift, and this one is a really gorgeous colour.”
Holly & Co Independent Business Awards (Runner Up)
Lloyds Business Awards: Commendation in Small to Medium Business of the Year
We are very grateful and proud to win these awards and feel very lucky to be leading such an amazing team to grow this wonderful brand. We are excited to continuing development and to lead the way in creative design and sustainability and look forward to sharing a bit more warmth in the world in the years ahead.
As always, we are overwhelmed with gratitude for the way our community came together as we entered the second year of the pandemic. Thousands of natural wool blankets and scarves were wrapped up and sent with care as loved ones looked for a way to feel close to one another from afar. We’re lucky to handwrite our gift notes as we were strengthened and encouraged by all the messages of compassion that accompanied our TBCo parcels to front doors around the world. We were reminded again and again that it’s not just a blanket, it’s a hug made of wool.
If you’ve ever perused our website, you’re looking at pictures of our community. From family friends to aunts and uncles, our pictures often include real people that really love TBCo. We’re proud of this - the visual symbol that TBCo is a group effort, a coming together of people and families to create something bigger than ourselves.
In October, we partnered with Social Good Connect to create volunteering opportunities through a digital search and match technology for our entire community, including our customers, team, and stockists. Opportunities varied, from helping revitalise community gardens to supporting charities in website creation. We challenged our ambitious community to pledge 1,000 hours of kindness, and were thrilled to exceed our goal with participation from over 100 “woolunteers”.
The Tartan Blanket Co. promotes a workplace that inspires positive change, not just within the company but in the wider community too.
We are transparent with our employees on our goals and include them across major decision-making, such as which charities we donate 2% of our revenue to each quarter. By making sustainability our why, our reason for doing what we’re doing, it’s an ethos that is shared by all our colleagues.
Similarly, the majority of our employees live in and around Edinburgh. By nourishing local talent, we are creating jobs and investing in our community. We are proud to be recognised as Living Wage Employers and go further than the Government minimum when it comes to paying our staff. It’s an investment in talent, a way to give back and create a family over a workforce. Similarly, there are few creative roles in the area, making it a highly competitive market, and by offering these jobs to local people we are able to boost the industry in Scotland.
We foster a culture of support, open communication and joy at TBCo - we want our workplace to be a safe haven for our employees, and through the involvement of schemes such as our Profit Share for those who have been with us for over a year, and promoting/creating new job roles from within, we have a low turnover rate for staff and employees that are passionate about promoting TBCo. As part of our company culture, we also allow for time off for staff to volunteer at charities that are close to their hearts.
Education around sustainability has also informed more eco-friendly choices in our employees’ personal lives. From composting and switching to plastic-free packaging brands, making conscious choices is something we do as a business: which is why it’s important those values are also reflected in our workforce. Some individual positive impacts from our team members include:
- Installation of solar panels and compost bins;
- Drastic reduction in meat consumption across the majority of our team;
- Buying better, buying less and reusing food containers, deodorant cases etc where possible;
- Adjusting transport methods for both travelling to and from the office, but for longer work trips - such as taking the train over flying, and cycling over driving.
Our Future & Accountability
The most important thing for us and our commitment to sustainability is to take accountability for even the slightest impact we have on the planet and its people.
Something we believe will help hold us accountable for our actions and also help ensure that we have the correct tools and resources to fully achieve our mission is to become a B-Corporation. Being a B-Corp means that as a business you balance purpose and profit, and use your business as a force for good. It is a long and challenging process (as it should be) and not something that can be achieved overnight, but we believe anything truly worthwhile is not about being easy. Our journey to becoming a B-Corp has begun and we can't wait to deliver updates to you about our progress.
Our goals for the next twelve months are to be open and transparent about as much of the business and what we do as possible, as well as to make improvements in all aspects of the brand from the supply chain to shipping. Some of our key goals include:
- Working with partner brands to remove plastic packaging in gift boxes;
- Seeking out greater diversity, inclusion and visual representation both internally and in our communications.
- Adjust our Recycled Wool Picnic Blankets to have 100% recycled waterproof backing;
- Champion closing the loop and providing education about the circular economy.
- Consider ways we can encourage our customers to live and shop more sustainably and responsibly.
Ultimately, we see our future as bright. We are continually looking for ways to leave a positive impact on the planet and people in our own and wider communities. We are dedicated to not just being eco-friendly, but a force for good in the world, with the aspiration to inspire others to do the same.