Let’s face it, ewe know that nothing keeps your armpits fresher on an adventure than a ‘lil slice of merino wool goodness. And the king/queen of merino is New Zealand’s Icebreaker, who’ve been wooling the merino world for over 22 years – they’ve just released a second ‘transparency report’ as part of their quest towards sustainability.

Ethical and sustainable production has always been a big part of Icebreaker’s purpose and now they’ve given us another reason to throw praise their way, with the release of their 2018 Transparency Report. Their first transparency report was released last year and it went deep, giving a really honest snapshot of the company and its efforts to improve its practices.

So, what exactly is a transparency report? Well, for Icebreaker it means opening up every single part of their business to scrutiny and assessment. Think supply chain, human rights, products, animal welfare and plenty more.

Our Favourite Bits

All the inner workings, revealed in all their glory. And there’s no wooly [I’m sorry, I can’t stop her! – Ed.] answers in there either. The report talks frankly about what’s going well and what still needs working on. It’s a big read, so here’s a few of our favourite points.

  • The flocks come first, and Icebreaker sheep have freedom from hunger and thirst, discomfort, injury and disease, distress and get to live ‘where sheep can be sheep’.
  • All of Icebreaker’s growers (merino wool sheep farmers) need to have an environmental plan in place.
  • 2018 saw Icebreaker launch their Icebreaker Growers Club, based on an unprecedented commitment – 10 year supply contracts. Why does that matter? It provides growers with the security to invest in their businesses, their land, their animals and their people. And it secures Icebreaker’s supply of consistent, high-quality merino fiber. Boom. Win-win.
  • Icebreaker uses recycled, degradable plastic bags to keep their nifty products undamaged. But they’re working on a water-soluble bag (if they nail this, it would be incredible to see other brands follow suit).
  • Icebreaker has reduced the use of air freight by 68% over the last year.
  • A big focus in 2018 has been on reducing micro-plastics and Icebreaker will fully exit from using acrylic by 2020. Given that microplastics are causing such havoc in the oceans, that gives us some seriously good warm and fuzzies.

Brands With A Higher Purpose

Here’s what their founder Jeremy Moon has to say: ‘We have a higher purpose beyond the clothes we make. Our founding purpose defines not just what we make, but how we make it. It guides every design and development choice we make, it guides our manufacturing and distribution decisions, and it powers how we operate as a global team wanting to make a difference. Sustainability isn’t just a feature of our products, it’s in the values and design of our business.’

We’re pretty lucky in the outdoor industry to be surrounded by brands that love the world we live in, and do their part to protect it. But Icebreaker’s commitment to not only make changes, but to talk openly about them, helps take that even further. Having read the report, we reckon that our friends across the ditch are onto something.


Feature photo by Joe Leeper

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