For as far back as l can remember, l have had a love and interest in nature. As a kid, like all kids, l loved the adventure of nature and the excitement of finding new and wondrous things.
This along with my parents, especially my mother’s belief in saving and reusing things, like rubber bands, corks, string, bags and bottles, has made me aware of the importance of nature and not wasting, therefore not creating unnecessary waste.
As a teenager l could not stand seeing people throwing rubbish about and though it seems strange today, that is what happened then.
Later after leaving school, l became involved with The Wilderness Society, in fact once wearing the koala suit, which was bloody hot and smelt. My car had a ‘Solar not Nuclear’ sticker, l went to protests about the environment, and generally was your typical anti-establishment student.
As the years passed, my involvement in groups has diminished but my personal belief in re-using and recycling has continued.
My love and appreciation of nature and her fragility in those times was evident in my art that l created as a practicing artist. In fact, l became a member of an art group AltitudeArt and with other artists we travelled to South Georgia in the Antarctic, Lake Hindmarsh an inland lake in Victoria, and a logging coup in Gippsland.
Through our art we tried to bring attention to these places and the effect man was having on them or could have on them.
When l started Mitch Dowd, the thought was to do it for a few months, just enough to make some money to pay for some picture frames for my upcoming exhibition. But with the success of the company l did not have that exhibition for nearly 10 years. In the early days, l reused plastic bags that had been thrown in a skip bin at the factory l worked out of.
The swing tickets were photocopies that l cut up instead of printing ones on card. Later l used recycled card with plant seeds inside.
I re-used all the cardboard boxes the shorts were delivered in from the maker to deliver the orders to the stores, often unpacking the orders instore and helping hang the product, then taking the box back with me to reuse. Though again this may seem odd, it was not as strange as it sounds now.
This is what l see now, as l look back the over 30 years since the business started: the slow and steady change, the ever-increasing waste we create as a company but more so as a community. The idea that we are too busy to re-use and it is too easy to just buy another thing.
We often talk about the environment but more so never do anything about it as the products we use are pushed at us cheaply, are easy to get, and we can always throw things in a recycle bin. But now we know that recycling is not what it is made up to be and most things end up in landfill because it’s cheaper.
So back in 2008 we released our Green range which was a collection of sleepwear and underwear for men women, children and infants and was carbon neutral.
It was rather successful as the world had realised that things were not right but soon it seemed to fall out of favour as the recycling brand took over.
But that range allowed us as a company to reevaluate our use of power, and water, the way we packaged our product, as well as the waste we created in the warehouse. And though the range stopped 5 years later, the changes we made continued on and we have many staff who are environmentally minded.
And so, we come to today: a time with a world pandemic, fires, floods and wild storms. David Attenborough has put out his greatest documentary ever l believe, his last testament ‘A Life On Our Planet’, and governments slowly work their way towards carbon goals as the planet coughs on.
It occurred to me it’s fine for me to live with my environmental views but l need to do more. My house is a rammed earth building with no heating or cooling systems and all the water that leaves the house is treated and put back in the garden.
Our power comes from solar panels with a battery system and hot water from solar tubes. My studio is a straw bale building that requires no heating or cooling. We have a small veggie garden and an orchard. My kids have grown up with this and l hope and feel, they now understand the message.
The ECO range we launched this October is another venture into a carbon neutral range and like Green, has accreditation from NoCo2.
We have used recycled cotton as well as fabric made from recycled plastic bottles along with offsetting the range with wind farms in China and biofuel plants in India. The range is men’s underwear and socks and we hope to increase the product offering as time goes by.
At Mitch Dowd we have made a pledge to make the entire Mitch Dowd ranges carbon neutral by the end of 2021, and the Mitch Dowd office carbon neutral by the end of 2022.
Therefore by 2023 the Mitch Dowd company will have achieved something that l hope others will see and do as well and influence our customers to think about what they can do.
Obviously, we will be preaching to the converted in the beginning but like over the past 30 years, l hope and believe that slowly the community will work back to becoming a clean, green reusing machine!
We often say at Mitch Dowd is all we have to do is get people to like us a little bit more each time. And with ECO it is the same thinking, we just want people to do the right thing a little bit more each time. As David Attenborough said, nature will survive, it’s the people who may not, and so it’s up to us to all do our little bit to make the future a better and safer place for the generations to follow.