Sustainability in a time of change

Iris Hantverk develops, manufactures, and trades in designed everyday items. The core of the business is brushes crafted by visually impaired artisans. For Iris Hantverk, sustainability and history are closely intertwined. The traditional craftsmanship is based on techniques and materials that have remained unchanged for over 100 years. Brushes made by hand in natural materials is a natural choice for us, and it always has been. Now, there is a growing interest in society for sustainable, long-term production that makes our products sought after in homes once more. Design, materials, and function are interconnected in the idea of surrounding oneself with things that bring joy and serve a purpose, adding as needed and rarely needing replacement. There has always been a long-term perspective in our product development process; it's not about seasonal goods or trends but designing products that become classics.

This text is excerpted and transcribe from the book ”Iris Hantverk – borstbinderi, design och hållbarhet”, © Scandi Edition, 2022. Published with permission from the publisher.

Today's artisanal industry is in a time of rapid change. For Iris Hantverk, this means adapting to developments in Sweden and globally towards a circular economy and transparency. The overall operation is clearly oriented toward the sustainability goals of Agenda 2030. This kind of business, which identifies, scrutinizes, and explores various aspects of sustainability, presents significant challenges but also opportunities.

In their environmental policy, the company sets certain expectations for itself, such as “conducting business activities with environmental considerations in mind, closely collaborating with customers and other stakeholders on environmental issues, striving to reduce and prevent pollution in all aspects of the operation, and engaging in environmental work that leads to continuous improvements”.

Iris Hantverk has identified four areas where active environmental efforts can make a difference:

•  Design Process - Here, they draw upon the system principles of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation* to reduce the need for material resources before, during, and after use. This includes retaining products and materials in use, designing out waste and pollution, and regenerating natural systems. But also to develop their own design strategies for the small-scale artisan industry in general and the brush binding workshop in particular.
•  Procurement /Manufacturing - Environmental considerations are factored into all product/material purchases and acquisitions. Consumables purchased should be certified or labelled with established environmental certifications.
•  Suppliers - Monitoring the impact of shipments on the climate and working to reduce supplier environmental impacts is an integral part of their environmental work. For example, they collaborate with their largest freight forwarder to gather and analyse the CO2 emissions generated by their shipments, and they develop logistics for consolidated shipping, sending 2-3 pallets of products every other or every third week instead of continuously.
•  Products/Packaging - All products and packaging delivered to Iris Hantverk must comply with laws in both the country of origin and Sweden, as well as a set of guidelines concerning energy, chemicals, travel, recycling, and more. They utilize a system for material control and review for their own products as well as external materials.

As part of their environmental efforts, they have reduced or eliminated the use of plastic in packaging materials. Ensuring products arrive intact is crucial, and for packaging delicate items, corrugated cardboard and kraft paper have replaced conventional bubble wrap.

Iris Hantverk has positively evolved through the integration of design into their operations. The interest in artisanal utility items made from natural materials and Scandinavian style has become an opportunity to engage constructively with production and consumption on a broader scale. This has enabled them to identify and highlight various values that risk disappearing in contemporary times and the values they want and can safeguard through responsive sustainability work.

Contributing to reduced environmental impact is in everyone's interest. Humans, animals, and nature rely on functional and healthy ecosystems. By adopting a reflective approach to design, Iris Hantverk can work constructively in a design and sustainability context. Sustainability has transitioned from being a concept to being expressed in an ever-changing process. New sustainable values are created for the brush binding workshop. The workshop becomes a part of the sustainability work, and the position of craftsmanship is strengthened for the future.


** CO2, carbon dioxide, is a greenhouse gas that naturally occurs in the Earth's cycle. However, its concentration in the atmosphere has increased significantly over the last 200 years due to human use of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide contributes to the global warming we see today, and to achieve climate goals, net emissions must be greatly reduced, ideally to zero. See, for example,

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Iris Hantverk has been FSCⓇ-certified since 20230926.  Products covered are tagged, and we are working to expand Iris Hantverk's own range of certified products. Look for our FSC®-certified products

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