*photo credit to Didymos; Tina Hoffman, CEO
As a consumer, readily seeing transparency in the things that I am buying is very important to me. It can be the difference between a quick, cursory browse and an in-depth look at a product. When the product that I’m searching for happens to be something for my children then the guidelines for excellence become far greater. I make no exceptions when looking at baby carriers, either, especially since they come into direct contact with both of our bodies. I look for things that are free of additives and toxic chemicals, fiber choices that are ethically and sustainably sourced, and manufacturing practices that are fair, transparent, and go all the way through the processing chain.
The first wrap that I ever purchased was a wool-blend Didymos Stendhal. When I went on the research hunt (or down the rabbit hole, as they say) I only had one thing in mind: I wanted eco-friendly wool! (Fun fact about me: I LOVE WOOL. It is an incredible fiber that is entirely renewable, sustainable, 100% biodegradable, and it keeps you warm OR cool so it works in all seasons.) But being sure that you source a wool product from a company that is upholding the highest ethical animal-welfare standards can be tricky if you don’t know what to look for. Thankfully, companies like Didymos make it easy to identify their ethical standpoint right on their webpage.
I have to say, Didymos (‘twins’ in Greek) made this article both very easy and extremely hard to write! Their full transparency on the website made it almost effortless to glean information for exactly what I was looking for on sustainability and fair-trade. However, it made me think outside of the box too, having to generate answers for parents/caregivers apart from what was readily laid out for them. As you can imagine, I was not disappointed with what I discovered!
Though the idea for the company was born around a kitchen table in 1972, today Didymos is an organization that distributes wraps worldwide while still upholding its original standard of excellence. They meet and exceed compliance for The Global Organic Textile Standard* (GOTS), amongst others, and keep everything from sourcing to production as close to their base of operations as possible. Though they have to source organic cotton via the global marketplace, they do source their raw hemp, linen, and wool products mainly throughout the continent of Europe. Their wraps and carriers are manufactured within a 4-hour radius outside of their home city in Ludwigsburg, Germany, and this guarantees shorter transport which in turn lowers their overall carbon footprint.
*photo credit to Didymos; Tina Hoffman in the booth at a trade show
Even as they travel to trade shows throughout the year, the Didymos crew tries to utilize public transport as often as it is available versus driving multiple cars/vans to events. When they need to ship the product (which is a reality of any business selling a product) they try to remain as minimalistic as possible, using fully recyclable plastics, paper, and cardboard in every avenue of the process that is feasible to do so.
One specific topic that I was curious about was the water recycling process for dyeing. The dye houses that Didymos use is located in Germany and Austria, which uphold some of the strictest standards in the world for water and waste management, and they create 120 yarn variations in over 80 different colors. Each facility has a closed circuit, wastewater treatment plant. The dyes contain no toxins or heavy metals, and when they are cycled out of the facility they are again of drinking water quality. Color me impressed!
Didymos is not just aware of their ecological responsibilities but their social responsibilities as well. They strongly advocate for fair working conditions and remuneration (money paid for work or service) and they are vehemently opposed to child labor and exploitation. Their sellable line of wrap scrap projects such as keychains, pacifier cords, and herb pillows, are crafted in protected workshops for women who are trying to reintegrate themselves back into the labor market; this is a twofold effort to assist in the reestablishment of these women into working society while also attempting to utilize the entire product.
*photo credit to Didymos; 'Fairytale' being measured and trimmed
They are very conscious of what they are giving back to consumers. “When people become parents their focus changes. They start thinking about the impact on the environment more, as the world they leave behind is the future of their children; they try to find the best materials and products for their kids. The environmental impact might not be the main selling point for all of our customers, but we do think that it matters. This is what keeps us motivated to look critically into all aspects of our production and to try to do better every day,” Tina Hoffman, managing director of Didymos, explains. “In our marketing, we try to get people to make an informed buy, and while we mention our sustainability practices, we focus on the quality, safety, and standards of our products as a whole.”
48 years is a long time to do any one thing.
48 years of being conscious of harmful additives, of knowing where raw materials are ethically sourced from, and of striving for a higher standard of quality is an even more noteworthy achievement. And yet, Didymos has been cognizant of those very things since it was born around that little kitchen table almost 50 years ago. It has come a long way from 4 all-cotton, striped, simple pieces of cloth, setting the industry standard for excellence, growth, and change.
*photo credit to Didymos; the late Erika Hoffman circa 1972
* The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibers, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. The standard aims to define world-wide recognized requirements that ensure the organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labeling to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.