We have our finger on the buttons!

corozo_buttons_smThere are few things more familiar to us than the buttons on our clothes.  Now we can use more environmentally-friendly ones made from natural materials (such as the nut of a palm tree) rather than hard plastic, which is a petroleum product.  A group of major Asian manufacturers has now agreed to start production of these new buttons to replace the plastic ones as well as buy offsets from us.  So, not only do these buttons help to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere from the growth of the trees, the carbon emissions from the manufacturing process are also offset too.

Buttons are produced by the billion to supply the clothing industry, and the vast majority of them are made of hard plastic.  Although they are very practical for the job they do, the plastic is produced from crude oil and it is not bio-degradable when the clothes (with the buttons still attached) are thrown away.

Teng Hoi has entered an agreement with a group of major button manufacturers to make use of a different material to make buttons.  Many species of palm tree contain nuts made of a very hard material often called ‘corozo’ or ‘vegetable ivory’ (the material is as hard as ivory from the tusk of an elephant, but comes from a plant not an animal!).  This material was much sought after for making buttons decades ago, before hard plastics became commonly available and cheap.  Our partner has agreed to once again use vegetable ivory and other natural materials to make buttons and has also agreed to support our community carbon offsetting initiative.  Each button sold will include a small percentage to help offset the carbon emissions from the transportation and manufacturing of the buttons.

As the human population grows, it’s ever more important that we live in a more sustainable way.  The use of plastic buttons is unsustainable as oil supplies ultimately dwindle.  We are now making use of a product that grows on trees (palm trees) so the button itself contains carbon absorbed from the atmosphere by the plant.  Each one of us can now wear something that is a small but significant step on the way to sustainability.

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th_logo_2010_smTeng Hoi Conservation Organization is a member of Take Tech Ltd, a non-profit making organization registered in Hong Kong.  We develop practical and participative environmental programmes with a strong emphasis on education and measurable results.  'Teng Hoi' is a Cantonese phrase that translates as 'listen to the sea', a name that came from our first programme, the development of a device to locate explosions underwater generated by illegal fish bombs.

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