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.