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In 2018, Haasch launched the Supabrella, a socially responsible and environmentally friendly ecoumbrella designed for both sun and rain.  It was designed because the alternative, a cheap throwaway made from non-renewable resources such as plastics and steel, does not last and takes over a lifetime to disintegrate when disposed of. 

 

The number of umbrellas that are made each year is thought to be in 100s of millions and the majority are not designed for longevity.  No-one really knows how umbrellas are discarded globally but the figure is also estimated to be in the millions.  Our Supabrella has been designed with renewable resources with consideration for planetary and human health and when eventually discarded, will not take a lifetime to disintegrate. 

 

LEARNINGS

 

Sita Schutt in London wanted to brand an umbrella as she could not find a stylish umbrella that was suitable for her needs and was planet friendly. Here in Australia both Jan and Alison Schutt wanted to create a stylish ecoumbrella needed to protect people from the sun.  We joined forces and  Alison embarked on a journey to design an umbrella that considered social, environmental and human health criteria that was suitable for both sun and rain.

 

Our goals in the design process was to ensure that the Supabrella addressed the following:

  1. made from renewable resources –

    • including bamboo, cotton, hemp (where feasible);

    • bamboo is selectively harvested by hand and only the correct sizes of bamboo are taken;

    • aciaca wood is used for the handles and only branches that are the correct size for handles are taken so the aciacia can continue to grow.

  2. made socially responsible –

    • safe healthy working conditions;

    • fair trade and fair wages paid to artisans;

    • partners are environmental and socially responsible.

  3. the materials used would not be harmful to environment, humans and animals - 

    • water proofing solution – use ecofriendly nano treatment;

    • bamboo treated with high salt and hot water rather than pesticides.

  4. biodegradable where possible – all parts of the umbrella can biodegrade at the end of its life however this has not been validated.

  5. Waste minimisation – 

    • Bamboo when harvested is primarily left in its original state when cut;

    • All offcuts of fabric are used to make bags;

    • Product can be repaired rather than discarded.

  6. Energy consumption is minimised –

    • Our manufacturer uses solar energy

    • Supabrella is handmade 

 

In the design process we have been faced with many challenges particularly in relation to:

  1. Textile selection in use of cotton over other more environmental textiles – high cost of hemp fabric our preferred choice, 

  2. Limited control in dying process and waste water knowledge for textile used and pollutant minimisation strategies in place,

  3. restrictions due minimum quantity orders,

  4. finding an environmentally friendly waterproofing solution and obtaining environment and safety verification of nano-treatment solution.

 

In the market, we are challenged with the price point.  We face a large task changing the attitudes and thinking process of consumers in a disposable society to buy cheap throwaways. 

 

When considering our manufacturer partner, the business had to align with our core values; consideration for environment, animals, human health and wellbeing. We have happily partnered with Jedi International in Chiang Mai, Thailand who addresses strict social and environmental criteria with their team of artisans. 

 

RESULTS

 

The Haasch team has an in-depth understanding of factors in our everyday environment that may have an impact on human health and the environment we live in.   

 

The result is a well designed, fair trade, socially responsible, planet friendly ecoumbrella.

 

Our contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) sits with the everyday core values of our business and can be measured against our company’s core values and objectives. 

 

We have addressed the following SDGs with our manufacturing partner Chiang Mai Umbrellas,

also known as Jedi International (Jedi). Their values and objectives can be viewed at https://www.jedi.asia/services and have been verified by a site visit to the workshop.

 

SDG 5 - Gender inequalities 

We have measured our objectives against Jedi’s objectives by reviewing their policy on “ensuring equality”, verifying this during our site visit and through ongoing contact. Our manufacturer abides by the following which can be viewed at https://www.chiangmaiumbrellas.com/about/us/fair-trade-policy:

  1. We treat all persons equally. This is regardless of gender, gender-preference, religion, political or union affiliation, ethnic group, nationality or origin. This goes for all aspects from hiring to remuneration and promotion opportunities.

  2. We make it easier for those who take care of small children. We take into account the special health needs of women in regard to pregnancy and taking care of small children. When needed, we maintain a crèche where small children can rest or play where they can be watched over from the work place.

  3. Jedi is owned and operated by women and women as well as single mothers are empowered in management leader roles. 

 

SDG 8 - Decent work and economic growth 

 

Our team of artisans in Chiang Mai are paid minimum wages by law in Thailand.  Jedi has a Fair Trade Policy where they follow the World Fair Trade Organisation’s 10 principles of fair trade.  This was a very important criteria when considering our choice of manufacturers. Jedi’s fair trade policy can be viewed at https://www.chiangmaiumbrellas.com/about/us/fair-trade-policy

 

This has been measured and was evident when visiting Jedi International in Chiang Mai.  The working conditions of the team are safe and healthy in that they work in a protected open plan house on a rural farm with gardens, fans and standard working hours during the day. 

 

SDG 10 - Reduced inequalities 

 

At Jedi they implement and practice the following, again which was another key criteria Haasch considered when partnering:

  1. It is our purpose to help create higher income and a better standard of living in Thailand's less advantaged population segments, especially in our rural rice-farming area of the Chiang Mai valley, through accessing new markets for handmade, environmentally responsible artisan products. Most often, the products we represent are made by craftswomen and craftsmen who are members of rural farming families.

  2. Through the production and sales of our bamboo products, we provide employment and income for those who may not be able to work on the fields, yet can improve their earnings by skilled craftsmanship. The women and men we employ are elderly persons, single mothers, landless farmers, migrant workers, farmers in low season, persons who need to watch over children (when this can be done while they work), un- or underemployed or those who prefer or have a higher aptitude for craftsmanship over field work.

  3. We provide employment opportunities directly, as well as through subcontracting artisan workshops that we work together with. These are also small-scale family businesses in Chiang Mai valley's farming area.

  4. We share our experiences in production and sales with team members, subcontracting artisans, other suppliers and customers. We nurture positive, long-term relationships in order to lower the thresholds of sharing and solving issues that affect our businesses.

  5. Our purpose of creating opportunities for income generation and empowerment stands at an equal level with sustainable operations. We do not engage in religious or party-political causes. (www.chiangmaiumbrellas.com)

 

SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production

We use zero non-renewable resources. Our Supabrellas are made from renewable resources including bamboo, cotton, aciacia wood and hemp.

Jedi ensures the following environmental principles are applied when manufacturing our Supabrellas and can be viewed at https://www.jedi.asia/social-environmental-responsibility/environment

  1. The products that we manufacture and sell are geared to the criteria of environmental preservation. Our foremost focus is on products made of bamboo such as bamboo umbrellas. Bamboo is a strong, local, natural and quickly renewable material. 

  2. The production processes for our bamboo umbrellas are environmentally sound. We consider the environmental impact of waste and aim to minimize waste. No harmful waste is emitted to the environment. Wherever possible, we use low energy appliances, tools and machines. Jedi has recently also installed solar energy for operations. 

  3. Jedi ensure they engage subcontracting artisans and suppliers to apply these environmental principles.

  4. At Haasch, we have moved to nano non-toxic water proofing solutions that are eco friendly and safe for human health. This can be vertified by an ECO-Passport certificate from the Hohenstein institute from Germany.

 

SDG 13 - Climate Action

 

Our Supabrella is a handmade product therefore during production, few carbon emissions are produced.  Jedi have also planted a forest and are growing their own bamboo to offset any emissions.  Additionally, Haasch is partnering with Rainforest Rescue and donating a $2 from every Supabrella to offset carbon produced from logistics. 

 

SDG 14 - Life below Water

 

By choosing plastic free textiles and materials for our Supabrella, we are reducing plastic pollution on land that can potentially impact our oceans.  Additionally, our packaging including shipping packaging is plastic free. 

 

SDG 15 - Life on Land

 

Our manufacturing partner, Jedi have recently planted their own forest in Chiang Mai as well as their own bamboo plantation.  Bamboo and acacia is grown abundantly in Thailand and harvesting is selectively managed by Jedi allowing forests to continue to develop and regenerate, minimizing any impacts and maintaining biodiversity.

 

SDG 17 - Partnerships in Goals

 

We trade with Jedi in Thailand that share the same goals in social responsibility, protecting our environment and maintaining human health.  In Australia, we partner with a wide range of not for profit groups that help to achieve our business objectives. These include but are not limited to National Breast Cancer Foundation, Cancer Council, Rainforest Rescue, Endeavour Foundation, Australian Marine Conservation Authority.

 

  1. LEGACY

 

Since the establishment of Haasch, our core value has been in the interest of social responsibility, environment and human health.  We continue to maintain these values across everything we do in our business.  We do need to better communicate the extent of our commitment to the SDGs.  The Supabrella is relatively new to the market and it is our intention to globally grow our range to become even more aligned with the SDGs, mainly in our textile choices and expand our range to invite global collaborations with multicultural groups, local artists and other not for profits that provide social wellbeing for the disadvantaged, such as Endeavour Foundation.  Our biggest and most ambitious longterm goal is to create a recycling scheme for umbrellas to reuse all parts and create an umbrella circular economy.