We have developed The Thomas George Supplier Code Of Conduct that we require our supplier and manufacturer partners to read, understand and sign. To work with us, our suppliers and manufacturers must ensure that:
Including freely chosen employment, safe and hygienic working conditions, no child labour, non-excessive working hours, no harsh or inhumane treatment, no discrimination, regular employment provided and wages paid in full at regular intervals.
Suppliers and manufacturers must comply with local and national laws related to environmental standards. Suppliers and manufacturers must provide us with written documentation on how they manage environmental impacts within their control. An example of this includes the ability to reduce or totally eliminate the use of adhesives or even to eliminate complete components such as lining materials by creating smooth seamed uppers.
In a world rapidly changing because of climate change, it doesn't seem like a bad idea to want to go about our daily operations with as little impact to the environment as possible. This involves constantly evaluating the strategies we put in place to ensure we leave as small a carbon footprint as possible.
Every year 25 million shoes are thrown into landfill in Australia. Conservative estimates suggest it takes about 50 years for a shoe to break down. Or if plastics are used, up to 1,000 years. We work with our manufacturing partners to encourage sustainability in shoemaking within several critical areas:
A Durable Shoe
Most mass-produced shoes are designed using low-quality and synthetic materials, with a shelf life of about 12 months. Our goal is to create an extremely durable shoe that can last for years with proper care.
Incorporating sustainability at the product design stage, such as dramatically reducing the need for adhesives, is a critical element to reduce harmful chemicals entering our environment and significantly improving the chances of the product or materials being reused or recycled.
We encourage the selection of component materials by our shoemakers that can significantly reduce our shoes' carbon footprint. We communicate to our shoemaker our position on core materials used in the footwear industry:
Leather.Within the tanning and processing stage, we prefer the use of natural tannages such as vegetable extracts, plant extract fatiguous and natural dyestuffs, all of which can lead to improved sustainability.
Textiles. Many shoes use a wide range of textiles and coated fabrics in the construction of the shoe's upper and lining materials, many of which are petrochemical-based and unsustainable. We will not use textiles.
Adhesives. These play a vital role in footwear production for bonding the leather upper to the lining and sole. Where possible, we use stitching to join components and prefer water based adhesives to solvent based, radiation cured or hot melts that carry with them greater environmental concerns.
Polyurethane Foams.The petrochemical-based element of these foams have a poor environmental profile. These synthetic products are often found in the midsole of the shoe to increase comfort and decrease break-in period. We will only use natural leather products and cork for our midsole.
Rubber.Synthetic rubber is made from a petrochemical material that is a popular choice for outsoles but is considered to have a poor environmental profile. We use Vibram rubber outsoles, which uses the more expensive natural rubber, which improves the quality and sustainability profile of our outsoles.
It should be noted that a number of approaches to improve sustainability in shoe manufacturing have been explored. Few, unfortunately, have been widely adopted at this time. Ensuring a sustainable product while remaining financial competitive also remains an important challenge to us. We will continue to communicate our preference for sustainable design and components to our shoemakers and seek to more broadly adopt natural or recyclable alternatives in the future.
All of our packaging is from recycled or recyclable materials. We encourage our customers to recycle Thomas George Collection shoe boxes at their nearest cardboard recycling centre. Within our product Thank You booklet (from recycled paper) we provide information to the customer on how and where to recycle their shoeboxes. This information is also available via this website.
We offer a $5 incentive giftcard to every customer who takes their shoebox to their local recycling centre for processing. All they need to do is post their good deed on one of their social media channels and tag us in.
Selecting an office building to work from, which highly values sustainability, was one of our first important steps to reduce our environmental footprint. Our HQ is currently based out of 570 Bourke Street, who have implemented innovative sustainable design features and resource efficiencies, such as thermal backed blinds to assist with temperature control and natural light, to reduce the building's environmental impact. 570 Bourke Street has achieved Australian best practice NABERS rating 5 STAR NABERS Energy and 3.5 Star NABERS Water.
In our paperless office work environment we strive to eliminated the use of paper. This
is done by converting documents and
other papers into digital form. We reduce our carbon footprint by avoiding printing and we ask all of our manufacturers and supplier partners to interact with us in this manner where possible. All customer communications are done electronically, including invoicing. When there is just no getting around using paper, all paper used must be recycled.
Giving back to the community is very important to us. We had not even been in business for a week, no sale had even been made, but when we learnt about a young tradesman who had all his tools stolen the night before he was to start his new job, we just had to help. A hat appeared and was passed around and we were able to give the young bloke a $250 Bunnings gift card, which enabled him to turn up to work the next day with a few essential items.
While we are still a new start-up, and every dollar matters, we feel it is important to do what we can to help community groups and individuals when we can.
The Thomas George Collection is a proud sponsor of The Victorian Street Smart Handbook by the Police and Citizens Youth Club (PCYC). The information within this handbook is designed to help school leavers transition into adulthood and is delivered to all first year VCE students. These young adults will find important information about drugs, money, sex, jobs, travelling, well-being and much more.
The Thomas George Collection looks to get behind initiatives that support our returned service men and women. As a 'Veteran-Owned' start-up, we feel more needs to be done to support the transition of soldiers back into civilian life. This is a time of great vulnerability for our service men and women and it concerns us that they are 18% more likely to suicide than the general population. We have approached a veteran support initiative to learn more about employment opportunities and support for programs that assist family and individuals making the transition.