It doesn't matter that U.K.-based Howies clothes are really, really cool looking. (Well, ok, it does help. A lot. In fact, it's a big part of the reason why they're up here.) What's mostly important is the philosophy that these dudes bring to their business, which started out with four T-shirts many moons ago. Today Howies makes all kind of jeans, T-shirts, hoodies, and the like for the hipster outdoors set. Run by mountain bikers, skateboarders, and snowboarders (etc.), these are "low-impact" clothes (in terms of eco-footprint, that is) that you can really see yourself wearing everyday. Following, a few of our favorite lines from Howies thoughtful, totally cool, 100% TreeHugger-approved Web site:
>We pledge to give 1% of our turnover or 10% of pre-tax profits (whichever is greater) to grass-root environmental and social projects.
>Every product we make has passed the 'The rocking chair test' when we are old and grey and sitting in our rocking chairs, we can look back on the company we created with a smile. That's why we go to the trouble of using the best quality materials to make sure our clothing lasts longer. The longer our products last the less impact they will have on the environment, and the bigger our smile will be.
>We can't say that our products are fair trade because we are not convinced that there is a trusted set of guidelines to follow. That has meant we have to write our own guidelines. For a tiny company that is some undertaking. How do you measure the air quality in a factory? What chemicals are good? What chemicals are bad? How much overtime is allowed? How much holiday should be given? To these questions and more, we will go find the answers. Then we will make sure our factories follow our common sense guidelines.
>We are always looking for new ways to try to tread more carefully.
>Even though recycling is a good idea, it is still better to get people to use less paper than to recycle it. That's why we thought we would target the junk mail companies to stop sending us stuff we don't want. After all, if companies can send you their junk mail, why can't you send them yours? Most companies will give you a freepost return address when they send you some mail. Just attach this to whatever junk you have and send it back to them at their expense. The heavier it is the more they'll have to pay.
>We made a loss this year. Just like the last one. And the one before that. It's not that we are doing badly. It's because it's not easy running a small business. You have to invest in good people if you want to grow and spread the gospel according to Howies.
Thank you for the tip, Chris Lehault!