Marimekko’s operations and design philosophy have always been based on a sustainable approach: we want to offer our customers timeless, functional and durable products that bring them long-lasting joy and that they will not want to throw away. A long-lasting product is also a sustainable choice.
Marimekko products are designed to stand up to time and use. Timeless product design is the core of our business and the mainstay of our sustainability philosophy. We aim to lengthen the life cycle of our products in various ways. The work to maximize a product’s life cycle and make it as sustainable as possible begins on the designer’s drawing board and material choices play an important role in this.
Long-lasting and sustainable materials
We want to create items that truly last in use, and thus a key consideration for us when choosing materials is their quality and longevity. Through material choices we can reduce the environmental impacts in our upstream value chain, and therefore we are committed to increasing the share of sustainable cotton and other more sustainable materials in our products and packaging. We commit ourselves to reduce the environmental footprint of our textile materials by 30 percent (measured in the Higg Material Sustainability Index) by 2025 through using more sustainable materials.
Although cotton is the most traditional and widely used raw material, designers are constantly looking for new materials suitable for different purposes speaking to today’s consumer and being more sustainable. In addition to the cotton, materials used in the collections include, for example, linen, wool, merino wool, lyocell, modal, viscose, silk and leather. We also use recycled materials on a seasonal basis, for example recycled cotton and recycled wool. We aim to increase the share of recycled materials in the future.
To support responsible sourcing of different materials, we have drafted product policies that define our sustainability requirements for the materials and their production processes and bind our suppliers. You can explore the product policies here. The product policies are part of our Supplier Code of Conduct, which you can find here.
Marimekko has been the first Finnish company to join the international Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) in 2013. The goal of the BCI is to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector’s future. In 2020, more sustainably produced Better Cotton accounted for 82% of all cotton sourced by Marimekko. The share of Better Cotton decreased from previous year as some of the Better Cotton sourced in 2020 was recorded in the monitoring system only in 2021 and Marimekko increased its use of recycled cotton. Better Cotton is not physically traceable to end products. However, BCI farmers benefit from the demand for Better Cotton in equivalent volumes to those we source. We aim to use only more sustainable or traceable cotton by 2025.
The cotton we use comes from different parts of the world. We source mainly Better Cotton, which is grown by around 2 million cotton farmers in 15 countries or areas around the world, for example in India, Brazil, Africa, the United States and China. The conventional cotton used by us comes, for example, from India, Pakistan, the United States, Peru and Turkey. We do not accept cotton from very high-risk areas. We define very high-risk areas in our product policies, which bind our suppliers. You can find product policies here. We require our suppliers to annually provide information about the origin of the cotton materials they source for us.
Taking care of the products
It is our goal is that, if properly cared for, Marimekko products last for one generation to another. Proper care helps prolong the product’s life cycle and keep it beautiful longer. Extending the product’s life cycle is also an effective way to reduce its environmental footprint.
To help our customers care for their items, we have published a comprehensive care guide for our products in our online store. We regularly feature the guide in our social media channels. In addition, our textile products are marked with the Clevercare label. At Clevercare.info our customers find care instructions that save the environment and the product as well as effort and money. The instructions remind for example, that the product should not be washed too often or in too high temperatures.
Making use of leftovers and cut-offs
Material efficiency has a central role to play in preventing and minimizing waste generated in Marimekko’s production. The materials cutting waste can be minimized already in the stage of pattern design by taking into account the end-use of the pattern and positioning of the pattern on the fabric. Also the stage of making the patterns for an interior product or a garment is essential when aiming to reduce the cutting waste. The patterns are set with the help of a software which keeps the waste at a minimum level. Sometimes the generation of cutting waste is unavoidable due to the pattern at hand and positioning of the pattern. In such cases the utilization of the cutting waste for example for another product can also be planned already in the initial design phase.
Sometimes fabrics are left over for example from clothing collections. These surpluses, as well as the surplus dyes from our own printing production, are usually utilized as special products in our seasonal collections or campaigns like the bi-annual friendship sales. The fabric is also sold in Marimekko outlets to people who like to sew, and sometimes they are donated for example to nearby schools or day-care centers for children’s handicrafts.
Quality and product safety
Marimekko needs to be able to guarantee the quality and safety of its products in all conditions. This is why the quality of the products is monitored constantly by Marimekko’s own quality team, by external testing laboratories and Marimekko suppliers. Marimekko has its own textile laboratory in Helsinki. Textiles materials are tested in the laboratory according to international standards. We also carry out tests for new, more sustainable materials such as fabrics printed with natural colors. Tests are carried out regarding, for example, shrinkage, color fastness and abrasion resistance. External testing services are used when needed, for instance, for testing dry cleaning, light fastness or chemical residues. The products are always tested in use.
Many of our products and materials have been granted a variety of certifications and labels guaranteeing their safety.
Majority of the fabrics printed in Marimekko textile printing mill in Helsinki are certified according to the STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®. The certificate guarantees that the materials in question have been tested by an independent third party and contain no substances harmful to people or the environment as detailed in the standard criteria. In addition to the certified materials from the printing mill, Marimekko’s bed linen and terry products and most of our clothing fabrics and knitwear yarns are certified according to the standard.
The product safety label CE mark guarantees that the product has been checked for compliance with basic safety requirements. Reflectors, oven mittens and kettle holders have to bear the CE mark.
Our dishes and tin cans are food safe. Legislation on this subject protects human health from harmful substances which could be transferred to food from the article or the materials used in it.