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Happy koalas

Saint Basics Saint Basics 22 Jan 2021 Happy koalas
In January 2024 Shop Like You Give a Damn acquired Saint Basics. This is why all the editorial content that founders Peter and Anita created with so much dedication, is now featured amongst our blogs.

Sometimes we get questions about our eucalyptus clothing that show there are still many misconceptions about this relatively new fibre. We’d like to clear up any confusion by saying our clothing is made from TENCEL™ eucalyptus, one of the most sustainable fabrics in the world. Our methods save about 96% water and reduce our ecological footprint by 95%. But what about the rest? These are the questions we get most often.

Aren’t you hurting the koalas?
It’s true that koalas eat eucalyptus. But these animals live in Australia, which isn’t where our trees are. Our eucalyptus comes from FSC managed plantations in South Africa. So no, we aren’t taking so much as a leaf from them. No koalas were harmed during the production of our clothes!

And what about the pandas?
We don’t trouble them in any way at all. Pandas love bamboo, but we don’t. In order to produce bamboo clothing, heavy chemicals could be used, which means this method is often not eco-friendly at all and we therefore don’t use it. So pandas, as far as we’re concerned you can have all the bamboo in the world. Eat your heart out!

Doesn’t eucalyptus cause enormous amounts of damage in Portugal?
That’s correct, which is why we don’t use it. Our very own Dutch managers are based in Portugal and know what a sensitive issue this is. Most of the Portuguese eucalyptus trees were planted in the last century by Swedish paper producers, after which they sprawled out everywhere. In the summer heat, it doesn’t take much for them to catch fire and cause massive forest fires. The average Portuguese person would love to see us chop down all the eucalyptus trees and turn them into underwear. But we don’t accept any material from uncontrolled forestry. Our eucalyptus comes solely from FSC-certified plantations in South Africa.

"Eucalyptus crops use about 96% less water!"

Why do you get your eucalyptus all the way from South Africa?
Eucalyptus is a thirsty tree that sucks a lot of water out of the ground, which means other plants don’t get a chance to grow properly. That’s why the plantations are on wetlands, of which there are plenty in South Africa and where water isn’t an issue. That means the trees can grow fast and efficiently, with no artificial irrigation needed. Compared to cotton, the eucalyptus crops use about 96% less water!

Doesn’t a plantation destroy the biodiversity of the area?
Yes it could, which is why it’s so important that the forestry operations are carried out in a knowledgeable and controlled manner, with respect for the biodiversity of the area. Our eucalyptus comes solely from FSC-certified plantations, managed by the Austrian company Lenzing. According to the Canadian NGO Canopy, a non-profit organisation that fights for the preservation of the rainforests, Lenzing is the most responsible wood supplier in the world.

Deforestation is a worldwide problem. The rainforests are disappearing before our very eyes. So how can you chop down trees and call it sustainable?
It’s for precisely this reason we don’t lay a finger on the rainforests. The FSC controlled cultivation of eucalyptus actually means that more trees are being planted. Plus the eucalyptus tree grows incredibly fast. Just one hectare of eucalyptus produces 5x as much clothing fibre as a hectare of cotton, which means we need 80% less land to produce the same amount. That leaves lots of land to grow other crops.

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"We only ship the parts of the tree that are actually used."

What about the transport of the trees?
The shredded eucalyptus comes to Europe by boat, train and truck. In order to keep CO2 levels as low as possible only the parts of the tree that are actually used are transported. Only the cellulose of the eucalyptus trees is used, which amounts to about 40% of the tree. By not shipping the rest we are reducing our emissions by about 60%.

TENCEL™ eucalyptus is supersoft, breathable and anti-bacterial. You can wear it for days and still stay fresh, which means it needs washing less often. Ask friend or foe, and they’ll agree it’s the most sustainable material for clothing. This is why we think TENCEL™ eucalyptus is the best and most responsible choice. What do you think?