We sat down with Prama Bhardwaj, a veteran in the sustainable textile space and CEO & founder of Mantis World, to talk about the 2021 Ryan Young Climate+ Award, sustainability, the future of the company and how the work with Green Story has helped the brand bring transparency to all their stakeholders. Mantis World are the winners of the 2021 Ryan Young Climate+ Award by Textile Exchange in the Climate Leader category. Climate Leader awards are given for overall commitment to meeting the Climate+ strategy goals. You can read the full press release here.
First of all, congrats on the fantastic achievement. What does this award mean to you and Mantis World?
We are honoured and delighted to have been selected as the winners of the Ryan Young Climate+ award. At Mantis World, we place fair and responsible practice at the very heart of our business, and are forever striving to do better. We are grateful to Textile Exchange for recognising our work in making transparency and impact savings (thanks to the work we do with Green Story) accessible to all our stakeholders. Our own climate strategy was shaped by Ryan’s inspiring words back in 2019. So, to receive the inaugural award in his name is very humbling. We may be a small business, but we are demonstrating every day that nobody is too small to make a difference.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability is important to everybody. It’s important to the planet and to the future of all species on the planet. We are duty-bound to take the best action possible in the spheres in which we have some control. As a supplier, that means we behave responsibly to switch to environmentally preferred fibres. We research every step of our supply chain so we have transparency. And, we don’t just react to customer demand or do the bare minimum to “tick the boxes”. This means that we sometimes uncover some uncomfortable truths and have to make some difficult decisions. We are not perfect, but every step we take on our journey brings a huge amount of learning, impact and the ability to educate others.
Transparency is extremely important at Mantis. How did your collaboration with Green Story help fulfil your vision?
What sparked my attention at first was the impact calculator (Green Story’s Know your Impact widget) that I had seen on an e-commerce site. After an initial conversation with the Green Story team, we realized that we could do the same for Mantis World: translate our sustainability data into credible and relatable impact savings, in a cost effective way.
Together with Green Story, we not only worked together on the impact assessment using LCA methodology of our entire product range, but most importantly, to pioneer a system of traceability for everyone along the chain. We’ve developed QR codes that are stitched into the garment seams. As we’re dealing with a big corporate chain, from our wholesalers to printers to corporate customers and consumers, we wanted everyone to be able to scan that QR code and see the impact of the garment, and understand the impact savings in terms of carbon, water, energy and pesticide use. In addition, everyone can see the complete transparent and traceable supply chain from the cotton field all the way to the finished garment and our warehouses in Europe.
The overwhelming response we received has been like a stunned silence: people were absolutely blown away that this technology (Know your Impact by Green Story) exists. And, they can actually see the impact of their purchasing decisions, especially because we’re B2B. It’s very different from having one consumer purchase one product. We have customers who will buy thousands, so if you add up the impact savings on thousands and thousands of garments over the course of a few months, you can quickly see what your impact as a business is. There’s been a real aha moment for customers who are perhaps dealing with large corporate clients, especially because this is very important information that can go into their CSR reporting.
What Green Story have done for us is to help cement our position of leadership in terms of sustainability and business process. We’re seeing more of our peers across the industry join us in embracing technology that enables greater transparency, which ultimately helps more end users to better understand where and how their clothes were made. The work we’ve done with Green Story has been an extremely important step in our journey as sustainability pioneers.
What’s next for Mantis World and what advice would you give to all the brands that don’t know how to get started?
We are on a journey of continuous improvement and work collaboratively across industry-wide programmes to measure, manage and improve our impact. We are a founding signatory for the UNFCCC Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action and we are committed to getting to net zero by 2050 – although we are sure we will do so much earlier! We are one of the first companies to be included in the new biodiversity benchmark by Textile Exchange and we continue to publicly report our impact through TE’s CFMB and SCAP.
My advice to brands that want to get started – is just start! It’s easier if done in bite-size chunks. So, prioritise what you want to focus on – is it environmentally preferred fibres, or workers rights or eco manufacturing. There is so much information and organisations out there who will help you on your journey. Once you start, you will soon find yourself in a virtuous circle constantly wanting to do better and better. And if you’re really stuck, drop us a note. We are always happy to chat and offer any advice we can.