Verdonce is a Spanish brand of products that will help you make your home more sustainable and reduce waste, therefore helping the environment. Their products are made with natural materials from local suppliers and are hand-made in Madrid.
We interviewed the founders of Verdonce Mónica García and Oliver Green, also known among their friends as “the Green family”, to learn more about the importance they place on sustainability and what led them to choose EKOenergy-labelled electricity.
Tell us briefly how Verdonce started and what makes it special.
Verdonce began as a family project. When we realised that our kitchen was where most of our waste was created, especially single-use plastic containers, we made some changes in our habits and started to buy in bulk and opt for reusable shopping bags. We did some research and couldn’t find any reusable bags that met our requirements, so we decided to make them ourselves out of natural fibres. Once we started using them we realised that we were not the only “weirdos” who were thinking of the planet and reducing waste.
People began to ask us about our bags and we started to wonder if we could start a business from a personal project. It was then that we started to make the first Verdonce shopping bags, which later expanded to tote bags and various products for the kitchen and bathroom. Our idea is to help anyone who wants to reduce their personal waste and take better care of the planet by giving them some simple ethical and sustainable solutions for everyday life.
“Adopting the EKOenergy label was faster, easier and more economical than we realised.”
How did the idea of using EKOenergy come about and what convinced you that it was the right step? How did the process of buying EKOenergy-labelled renewable electricity go for you?
We took part in a programme here in Spain called “PYMES y ODS” (SMEs and the SDGs), organised by the Copade Foundation. We jointly analysed our business in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals, to see where we can further improve our sustainability, which was our goal from the beginning. One of these points was the use of renewable energies, and investigating how other similar brands in Spain deal with this issue. We then came across Vesica Piscis, which uses EKOenergy and has the EKOenergy logo on its web page.
The fact that EKOenergy is not only transparent and 100% sustainable, but also uses part of the electricity bill to finance projects in developing countries, seemed a great idea to us and one that fits perfectly with our philosophy.
We saw that it was possible to obtain EKOenergy in Spain with Gesternova as an energy supplier, so we contacted them and managed everything electronically. After looking into our invoice we discovered that the process of adopting the EKOenergy label was faster, easier and more economical than we realised.
Apart from switching to EKOenergy, what other decisions have you taken to be more sustainable?
We always try to ensure that sustainability is reflected not only in the product we sell, but also during our entire production process, from choosing materials to delivering the product. There are times when it is simple and others when it is more complicated, but we try to make the whole business as sustainable as possible in a holistic way.
Since the beginning, our criteria has consisted of using vegan and plastic-free materials, therefore plant-based and completely sustainable. When we started, we worked with jute, organic cotton and linen. Later on we incorporated hemp, for the apron and bag strips. Some materials such as cotton, despite being a plant-based material, also have their disadvantages. While seeking to be a little more sustainable, we discovered the possibility of using GRS (Global Recycled Standard) certified recycled cotton from a local supplier. This way, we are giving a second life to resources we already have on the planet.
The products in our collection are handmade by a network of local professional seamstresses. For crocheted or knitted bathroom and kitchen products, we collaborate with the IAIA association in their project “Weaving a Future”, which helps women in vulnerable situations here in Madrid.
Then there is the issue of packaging, which we do of course without plastic, wrapped in paper and craft tape. As far as transport is concerned, we rely on the national postal service, avoiding the need to make a trip just to deliver our product. And sometimes, if the customer is nearby, we even deliver them by bike.
Your products are made in an artisanal and ethical way. What is the production process from the moment you come up with a new idea until the final product reaches the consumer?
Most of our products arise from personal needs of ours, thinking about issues such as reducing waste at home, clothing and fashion. It all starts from the same base: it has to meet all the pillars of the brand. We want our products to be not only sustainable, but also stylish, eye-catching and of high quality.
Based on the idea of a “capsule wardrobe”, we think, for example, that we would like to have a bag that does not follow fashion, but that is instead timeless and unisex. We try to make our products gender-neutral, because in the end it is also more sustainable. We think ourselves and listen to others in order to find out what is needed, and from there we think, devise, make prototypes and test it ourselves.
For example, in the case of the scouring pad, we had used other sustainable ones that didn’t quite convince us and that ended up fraying. We thought of making one out of jute, and since I don’t know how to knit I asked my mother, who knitted us a scouring pad following our instructions. Once tested, since my mother cannot knit enough to sell, we contacted the IAIA association and they became our producers. We always use it first at home and we make products that we think are practical, basic and necessary.
We also take into account the opinion of our customers. Even though our shop is online, we participate in several markets where we can talk directly with the customers and discover their needs and tastes, and this is very enriching when creating and developing products. We were asked, for example, if our cloth bags could be used to freeze bread, so we decided to test this at home. Using the products yourself also gives you a lot of confidence when you are recommending them or when you are pitching your product to a potential shop owner. In addition, the bags are also tested in the laboratory to make them suitable for contact with food.
This is the general R&D of our products, which is also a learning process for us. In two and a half years, we have come a long way and there will be many more things we can improve on, learn and discover in the near future.
Do you think that consumers are looking for products made in a more responsible and sustainable way?
We think so. There is a type of consumer who is also very aware of the impact we make on the planet and for whom it is important that the brand or product is made in an ecological way.
On the other hand, it is also true that we must continue to inform people that there are alternative options. For example, with the pandemic we are experiencing, millions of single-use masks are being used, but little by little people are beginning to worry about finding reusable options and realising that they may be just as reliable as something that is disposable. Finally, while sometimes there is no choice, such as in hospitals, many solutions are very easy to implement on a day-to-day basis.
The same goes for plastic bags. It is important to be aware of things such as cleanliness and hygiene. Indeed, as opposed to plastic bags, when using a reusable bag you know where it comes from and in what condition it comes.
We thank Verdonce for choosing EKOenergy, for all their efforts towards 100% sustainability and carbon neutrality, and for answering our questions! We hope that their commitment to sustainability will inspire others to take similar steps, speeding up the transition towards a 100% renewable world.
To see other articles like this and to learn more about companies using EKOenergy-labelled energy, have a look at our user stories. We, and our licensees, are happy to help individuals and companies choose the most sustainable renewable energy available.
If you are considering ways to display your environmental commitment or thinking of switching to environmentally sustainable electricity, don’t hesitate to contact us. To stay updated, follow us on Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Xing!
Mónica García and Oliver Green were interviewed by Cèlia Garriga
Published on 01 December 2020