Socks &Sustainability

Warning: we don't have a standalone "sustainability programme".

That's because for us, environmental and societal impact is not an afterthought to doing business.

Rather, we factor in environmental and societal criteria into every single decision we make as a business.

From our sock recycling to plastic-free packaging to yarn selection, here's where you can find out more about how we're working as sustainably as possible.

Future leaders in sustainable fashion

In 2020, The London Sock Exchange was recognised as a future leading brand in fashion sustainability by the University of Cambridge.

Alongside a selection of other British brands, we joined the university’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership fashion accelerator programme.

That’s been helping us continue to implement the highest ethical environmental and labour standards in the production of our socks, and identify opportunities to improve the sock industry's sustainability as a whole.

How we recycle old socks

Since 2014, we've prevented over 100,000 socks from going to landfill

The UK alone generates a million tonnes of clothing and textile waste every single year.

Since 2014, we’ve been working to take socks out of that equation through our renowned recycling service. In that time, we’ve prevented over 100,000 socks from going to landfill.

A proportion of the old pairs of socks we recycle are still in great condition. They make their way to charities, where they’re distributed to people in need.

The rest of the socks are washed, shredded, reconstructed and given a second chance in life as an industrial textile.

HOW IT WORKS

As a subscriber, you can refill your first box of socks with any old, unwanted socks you're clinging onto, and send it back to us, free-of-charge.

We then recycle the box and socks, and bob’s your ankle: you’ve helped the planet and set yourself up for success with a winning sock portfolio.

You can see our recycling in action and learn a bit more in this short film.

How we choose cotton

Each and every pair of socks we make uses specially curated, luxurious combed cotton.

Which is great – but where does it come from?

We source our cotton through carefully-selected yarn partners in Turkey.

All of our yarn partners are active members of the Better Cotton Initiative. That means that all of the cotton which we use comes from farms which are proactively regenerating the environment and meeting best-practice in their labour, community and social standards.

Our partners are also all Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified. This standard stipulates requirements throughout the supply chain for both ecological and labour conditions in textile and clothing manufacturing, using organically produced raw materials. 

Finally, the cotton we use meets a minimum of the OEKO-TEX 100 standard. That means the cotton is free from chemicals which are harmful to humans or the environment.

Plastic-free by default

Great socks demand great packaging.

And so our packaging meets the same, exacting standards as our socks – both in terms of design and sustainability.

That's why we don't use any plastic in our packaging, either as a base material or as a coating agent.

Furthermore, each of the paper or cardboard components we use to package and deliver our socks is fully certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC).

What's next?

We'll continue to make sustainability a key point in every decision we make as a business.

Immediate areas for improvement include how we can optimise our practices in logistics, warehousing and technology.

If you have questions or ideas on how we can champion sustainability in socks, then we'd love to hear from you – just drop us a line at hello@thelondonsockexchange.net.