The world is dying. We see it all around us. Rising temperatures. Melting ice caps. Plastic oceans. Extreme weather. Droughts. Floods. Fires. Extinction.

We can no longer dispute this fact, nor the sad reality that we humans are responsible. So yes, our earth is dying, but it’s not dead yet. And it’s our responsibility to revive it.

At International Colours, we focus on being enduring, on curating lasting, timeless designs that are inherently superior to the fading fads of fast-food culture. Permanence is in our DNA. So, when we reflected on how to contribute to our planet’s future, we looked inward and decided to apply our intrinsic ethos to a sustainable vision.


We don’t believe that nothing lasts forever. What about culture and customs? What about family recipes and traditional songs? The physical world shifts, changes and decays, but the values and ideologies that keep it alive are maintained across generations, and sustained through a commitment to shared prosperity.

Going forward, this is the approach we will be taking. We are looking ahead, beyond the present, and creating a code of conduct that is as much about the now as it is about the future. We are devotees of design, and convinced that by imagining this better tomorrow, we can play a small part in designing it.

We don’t have it all figured out, and we will no doubt evolve as we proceed along this path, but we are drafting a philosophy that will become company culture. It’s a spirit, a mentality and an attitude that will guide everything we do. And it is driven by what we are all about: forever.


Most of the goods we produce are leather-based. This won’t change, but we are more mindful of how to do this differently.

- The product lining for a number of our ranges is produced from recycled bottles (click here for more info) and approved by the Global Recycle Standard.

- To date we have diverted over 95 000 plastic bottles from both landfill and oceans.

- We have removed excess plastic packaging from all our products.

- Our ranges feature added canvas elements for customers who want products that are not 100% leather.

- We are developing a more circular product cycle based on a recycling system that discards old product sustainably.


We have teamed up with a dynamic indigenous nursery to assist us in offsetting our carbon footprint by growing and maintaining Spekboom.

This proudly South African miracle plant is incredibly effective at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

We have secured our own hectare of land for this project, and plan to grow around 6000 plants in 2020.

This endeavour aligns wonderfully with our belief that local innovation need to be championed and celebrated, particularly when it helps achieve sustainable goals.


We have committed to this approach because earth is our only home, and right now it’s falling apart. It’s a home that has provided us with countless experiences and untold adventures.

It’s unbelievably breathtaking, boundless and surprising, the perfect playground in which to enjoy our products. And once we’re gone, when our children are its custodians, we want them to love it as much. It’s quite simple: we want it to last forever.



Environmental responsibility takes conviction, commitment and quite a bit of elbow grease. It’s not an easy task, and often the results aren’t immediately evident, but the simple fact is that, if everyone gets involved, things will change for the better.

There’s a lot of easily accessible information that’s been written on the subject, which is one of the joys of our constantly connected world. But wading through all this and finding the advice one needs is often daunting and confusing. So we’ve distilled it for you, and created a short glossary of the terms most relevant to our environmental ambitions. It’s not an exhaustive list,
but it should shed a bit more light on what we’re doing.


As opposed to the traditional, linear approach to production, circular design rethinks this process, creating a cycle whereby resources can be reused where possible.

With this approach the ‘end’ can potentially become a new beginning, resulting in less waste and more value.


In the broadest sense, sustainability is about maintaining an existing state at a certain rate or level.

When applied to the environment, it becomes both a multifaceted
approach to ensuring that our world remains habitable, and a means of achieving this by avoiding the depletion of natural resources and maintaining an ecological balance.


In short, it’s a measure of the total amount of greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere to support human activities.

Individuals, families, events, organisations, entire nations and, in our case, businesses all have defined carbon footprints, usually measured as tons of CO2 emitted annually.

It’s impossible for all of us to be inactive, but there are many ways for us to tread lightly and be more considered when it comes to our actions. We offset emissions with our Spekboom project, and plan to grow the hectare of land allocated to this annually.


Brands often use a range of phrases to indicate the ‘green’ levels of their products, and particularly their packaging.

These might often sound like the same thing, but they refer to very different processes.

Below are the most commonly used.



Recycling is a process that converts used materials into something new, with the aim of keeping them off landfills for longer. But not all materials are equal in this regard. Whilst standard plastics and paper can only be recycled a few times before they become unusable, glass, metal and aluminium are endlessly recyclable.


Microorganism like bacteria and fungi naturally break down biodegradable items if conditions like temperature and humidity
are at an optimum. That doesn’t however make all biodegradable products environmentally friendly. Bananas can take two years to biodegrade, and biodegradable plastics require specific conditions to break down properly, and may produce harmful
greenhouse emissions when left to decompose.


Made from natural materials like starch and plants, compostable products decompose fully into compost without producing toxic residue as they do so. Usually this process needs to take place in a controlled environment, as
compostable products are not suitable for home composting unless they have been certified as Home Compostable.


Bioplastics are made from marine or plant-based materials like corn and sugarcane, and sometimes even from waste agriculture by-products like potato peels. These plastics
promote material recycling, and are considered to be more eco-friendly than those manufactured from petroleum. Not all
bioplastics are necessarily biodegradable though.



Cotton Shirt

5 Months

Traditional Leather

20 - 50 Years

Nylon Fabric

30 - 40 Years


100 Years

Plastic Straw

200 Years

Plastic Bottle

450 Years

Glass Bottle

1000 Years +

Styrofoam Container




As distributors of fine leather goods, we ensure that our methods and actions align with our sustainable vision. The Majority of our products are vegetable tanned, a natural process that uses no chemicals. Vegetable tanning has been around for centuries and uses eco friendly materials like tree bark to give it its rich, lasting texture.

 Genuine leather is a very durable material and is unlikely to be disposed of in a hurry. Boots or jackets that have lasted decades take pride of place in many wardrobes. Humankind has worked with leather for thousands of years, and in that time it has not impacted the earth nearly as much as plastic has in just over a hundred. Traditional leather is extremely strong, can last for decades if treated properly and is a timeless, natural material.

‘Pleather’ has traditionally been made from PVC, a controversial material that produces harmful dioxins and uses highly toxic chlorine. Polyurethane (PU) is a non-biodegradable modern alternative used as a binding agent, but its raw materials are derived from fossil fuels, and its production is not yet entirely non-toxic. That said, there have been developments in the creation of an environmentally-friendly PU option.

Vegan leather also traditionally makes use of PVC but there have been developments with leather-like materials being made from a range of sources like coconuts, mushrooms, pineapples and even coffee. These products are often very easy to biodegrade but do not have the same shelf life or durability as that of traditional leather.