How BAM and its co-founder David Gordon have revolutionized the sustainable clothing industry with their strong ethics based business model aimed at saving the world.
With an exponential rise in global awareness about the global warming of the planet being caused as a result of the massive rise in pollution which has taken place over the last few centuries due to rapid industrialisation, people in the 21st century have been forced to look for ‘greener’, more eco-friendly alternatives to utilities used by everyone so as to help alleviate the problem of global warming.
Efforts like the usage of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar energy instead of fossil fuels and that of electric vehicles instead of those that use petrochemical fuels have immensely helped us combat global warming and helped curtail the effects of long-term pollution on our planet. However, it hasn’t been as easy to find sustainable, eco-friendly alternatives for all utilities. Finding such an alternative in clothing, for instance, has been a gigantic challenge for the longest of times.
One such possible alternative has been believed to be identified in the form of bamboo-based clothing. This is a brilliant proposition on the surface as not only is bamboo naturally replenishable and a 100% biodegradable and renewable resource which helps produces an abundance of Oxygen to the atmosphere helping maintain a more habitable atmosphere, but clothing made from bamboo also has many advantages over regular clothing such as high UV resistance, lustre and elasticity .
However, as the popular saying goes, “there are no free lunches,” and similarly the production of bamboo-based clothing presents its own set of challenges to the environment. The majority of bamboo-based fabric produced is referred to as bamboo viscose, which though cheap for consumers is not only harmful to the environment and the workers involved in its production as a result of the generation of large amounts of the poisonous gas hydrogen-disulphide (H2S) which takes place during the process of its production and the regular extortion of the poor workers involved in its production mostly from India and China, but as a result of being put through this procedure the fabric loses all the special characteristics it possesses and turns into the plant analogue of any other chemical-based synthetic fabric .
To ensure that the production of bamboo-based clothing is beneficial to both the producer and the consumer, we would require a line of production that:
- Actively aims to be carbon-neutral.
- Uses mechanical processes instead of chemical processes to produce bamboo-based fabric so as to maintain its quality and chemical integrity.
- Goes out of its way to make sure that everyone involved in the process is fairly compensated, be it executives in airy offices or the workers involved in the actual production of the clothing.
Only if all of these criteria were fulfilled could we say that the clothing produced by this line of production was truly eco-friendly and was genuinely good not just for the consumer but also the environment. This is where BAM, a Plymouth-based bamboo clothing start-up company led by their maverick founder and CEO David Gordon, come into play.
BAM as a company has been a breath of fresh air in an often repetitive and extremely callous industry when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility, often only making very basic efforts to help the environment while engaging in several harmful social practices such as child labour and animal cruelty, as it prides itself on what it likes to calls the radical concept of being ‘Impact Positive’ meaning the net impact the company makes on the environment is always positive and have taken on many incentives to make sure of the same. The most noteworthy of these are:
- Actively trying to reduce their carbon footprint to zero by the year 2030.
- Ensuring that every person involved in their supply chain is treated with dignity and fairly compensated for their work, monetary or otherwise.
- Attempting to reach zero waste to landfill, zero wasted water and zero pollution by 2030 .
The company has actively put the need of the hour ie to protect the environment at the very top of its list of priorities and unlike most large textile corporations, that care about little else except the bottom lines of their balance sheets, has prioritised the positive social and environmental impact caused by their company. Their noble mission and extremely rare ethics sets may come as a shock to most people, but for anyone that knows David Gordon, this causes no surprise whatsoever.
Very much the definition of a renaissance man, BAM was David’s second venture into the realm of clothing after he sold his first business in 2006 to try and set up a business he was truly passionate about; one he had initially started in 1988 as a student at Loughborough University to try and help finance his plan to tour the world. His passion for sustainability and subsequently the idea for BAM sprung into David’s head as a result of two memorable experiences he encountered through his many travels of the world. The first was when he led an expedition as a DIY filmmaker, complete with a number of Gurkha guides, into the rich forests of Greenland which are one of the last untouched reserves of lush vegetation in the world, which emphasised in his mind how important it was to save the environment as he saw first hand what the rest of the world was missing. However, the epiphany that would eventually lead to the creation of BAM came shortly before 2006, when on a trip to China he found that bamboo had been used for widescale production of clothing for a long time . These two ideas combined eventually led to what became BAM which started as the owner with little else but an idea wrapping orders under a Christmas light over Christmas in 2006 to a crew of 35 full time employees helping with the company’s day-to-day operations.
What has set apart David Gordon and his crew of do-gooders from the rest of the competition in the sustainable clothing industry has not just been their business model or their savvy business model, but more so their values and their commitment to the same often compromising monetary benefit for the same. As they say on their website, “We’d genuinely rather make a bit less money and have loads of really pleased and satisfied customers and suppliers and have fun ourselves than go the awful corporate route of ‘get away with what you can, maximize profit and pretend to be whiter than white’. Which turns out to be quite smart in many ways anyway, here in the post-modern era….” And they have been proven quite right in this assessment, as the company has shown steady growth over the years and generated over 700,000£ in incremental review just through its advertising programme . Therefore what BAM and David Gordon have proven with their ethical ideologies and business ideas in today’s times are that sometimes, contrary to popular belief, nice guys do finish first and their work stands out not only for its sheer positive impact on the environment but also as a massive inspiration to the rest of the textile industry for their social initiative and enterprise.
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