Proudly 100% Made In Australia

We believe in sustainably made products

One of our core, guiding principles is sustainability. We don't want the things we make to harm the planet we love, so we proudly make all of our products in Australia using only natural or recyclable materials.

Because our manufacturers are in Australia, we know that people working on our products are getting a decent wage with safe working conditions. We're also proud of our manufacturers sustainability initiatives. For our tea towels, we work with a manufacturer in Melbourne that repurposes any wastage and uses natural fibre fabrics and non-toxic water based inks. And when we package our 100% organic linen tea towels, we make sure to only use natural or recyclable packaging too.

Our ornaments are cut in Sydney by a manufacturer who has signed a Carbon Neutral scheme to offset their carbon footprint and are also part of a Plant-A-Tree initiative to offset their cutting. We finish them off by hand-painting them at our studio in Darlinghurst and packaging with natural jute twine and recycled paper.

 

Lifecycle Analysis

Recently we did a lifecycle analysis of our hand-painted wooden ornaments and other products. We discovered some things we already knew and others that made us re-evaluate what we could do to offset our production process. To begin with, we choose to get our ornaments cut from poplar plywood which is a great tree to cultivate as poplar cultivation is among the most advanced in the world. Poplar itself has an excellent capacity to purify air and is grown in Australia in areas across New South Wales. Originally grown here to supply the matchstick industry, it is now used in a variety of commercial applications. Poplar is above all an environmentally friendly choice for us as it: purifies air, purifies water, improves biodiversity and conserves the environment and cultivations are managed through strict environmental standards. They are also often located next to their production sites which reduce emissions from transport exhaust. Poplar is also an excellent biofuel, so the entire tree is used in the process, meaning there is no production waste.

Poplar itself is a great and environmentally friendly choice for us to use, but unfortunately, when we did our analysis, we discovered the process of creating the plywood does emit some air pollution from the glue used in the production process. Overall, we feel the positive attributes of using poplar plywood outweigh the negative, especially as the plywood manufacturing process in general achieves a more complete utilization of the log than other lumber manufacturing.

 

Locally Cut in Sydney | Manufacturers

Our local laser cutting manufacturer uses lasers to cut this poplar plywood and to score the wood creating the basis for our ornaments. There is some hazardous waste produced from this process into the air, but our manufacturer offsets their waste by having signed a Carbon Neutral scheme, meaning they donate the amount of hazard they create to plant trees as a part of a Plant-A-Tree initiative within Australia. Located in Sydney, we collect the cut wood from them and reuse the brown paper packaging they provide all year long to transport our ornaments.

 
 
 

… using poplar plywood outweigh the negative, especially as the plywood manufacturing process in general achieves a more complete utilization of the log than any other lumber manufacturing.

How we prep our ornaments | Our process

Once in the studio, our raw ornaments get stained with a water-based paint, then sealed with a non-toxic PVA glue. We smooth the surface through sanding and then the ornaments are ready to paint. One switch we have made after this analysis involves our paints. We use water-based acrylics, but some had heavy metals in them, such as our Titanium White or Cadmium Yellow. We’ve since switched to heavy metal free water-based acrylic paint. Once painted, we seal the surface with a spray that protects it. Here’s where things get tricky for us. The spray adds to the durability and life or our product, but there are some unknowns surrounding it. What we do know is that the spray we use vaporises almost immediately in the atmosphere. It consists of hydrocarbons that photo chemically decompose under atmospheric conditions. Its persistence and degradability, bioaccumulative potential, mobility in soil and other adverse affects are not known, however. It concerns us that this information is not known and we’ve decided to handle it by donating to a Carbon Neutral scheme to offset any hazardous waste emitted. On the plus side, we recycle the can when we’re done with it and after spraying our ornaments use only recycled or natural materials for packaging.

 

weak points | Offset our carbon footprint

Through our analysis we discovered a few weak points: the gluing of the plywood, the spray at the end and our driving to and from the laser cutting company to collect our order. Based on this, we decided that we wanted to offset our carbon footprint each year and made a calculation for FY 2018-19 using the Carbon Neutral calculator and donated to offset it. We travel quite a bit for markets and earlier this year visited Melbourne for The Makers & Shakers Conference, so we included our air travel from Sydney to Melbourne to offset along with our yearly kilometres driven.

 

Complete Cycle | Bring the magic

To complete our life cycle analysis, we looked at the end stage of our ornaments. Our products are made to last a lifetime, so in looking at this we not only look ahead, but back. We remember growing up and decorating the tree each year, complete with our parents or grandparents ornaments. In a world of fast disposable everything, we slow down and take the time to make something that will last. It is our hope that people hold onto these ornaments for generations to come. At the end of their useful life for our customers, we hope they are exchanged or given as small tokens to one another in the future. More than anything, though, we hope the plants, animals and habitats that we depict on them are still going strong when that happens. It has always been our mission to raise awareness through our products by bringing Australian native plants, animals and habitats into your home. If we can connect, we can protect.

 

If you have any questions about how our products are made, please email us we’d love to answer them.

hello@outerisland.com.au
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