Qups, an eco-friendly breast prosthesis
Due to lower production costs, 70% of European textile imports currently come from Asia. At the same time, consumer expectations of sustainability are rising. How do you know what you are buying? We have not always been clear about it ourselves, but our Qup is an eco-friendly prosthesis alternative, simply ‘Dutch design’ and ‘made in holland’.
We too are trying to figure out how best to make sustainable choices. What can you do to ensure that your product does as little damage to the planet as possible? At the same time, we want to offer comfort, which has always been the main priority in the development of our Qups. What we’ve learned in our trial and error process is that it is best to be honest about the choices we make, and where we stand. The steps we’ve consciously taken, but also what remains to be done.
What has and hasn’t worked for us over the years:
✅ Inclusiveness, we break a taboo – 2019
Our goal is to empower women after surviving breast cancer by offering alternatives. We consciously work with many partners in the lingerie world and partners who offer other beautiful solutions and products for women without breasts. That is why Qups are available everywhere, fit into regular lingerie and why the market offers more and more bras with pockets.
✅ Less waste – 2019
We work with a strong basic collection that is always available. We also offer seasonal products as long as our fabrics are in stock. We sell everything until it runs out, and do not throw away leftover batches. Cutting scraps are processed via textile containers and our foam producer compresses their foam leftovers to be reprocessed elsewhere.
✅ Local production, made in NL – 2019
The material the Qup is made of is a very specific type of foam. Air has been blown into the pores to create the right breathability. Currently, this type of foam is only produced in the Netherlands. The foam is cut to size in Germany, and fabric-covered in Deventer by seamstress (and Qups wearer) Elly and Syrian Saeid’s workshop. This gives us full insight into the quality of working conditions of everyone working with our Qups.
✅ Green shipping and packaging – 2019
We do not use plastic in our packaging but instead love cardboard boxes and shipping bags. Furthermore, we choose Biking Couriers for shipping our parcels. They have a national and even international network for shipments because they work with shipping partner GLS.
✅ SDG goals – 2020
As a social enterprise, we make an impact. We are committed to reflecting our values in everything we do. We have linked our impact goals to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are committed to SDGs 3, 8 and 17.
✅ Registered as a social enterprise – 2022
One cannot just make up the story of being a social enterprise, there is more to it than that. We did the audit at social-enterprise.nl and were admitted to the network because we meet the requirements. Among other things, this means that we do business based on a social mission, that we see profit as a means not an end, that we are transparent and honest about where we stand and that we organize our company in a social manner.
✅ Provide reintegration pathways and internships – 2021
Our social management is also reflected in the people we work with. Naturally, we interact with many volunteers and fans who support our mission and are committed to it nationwide. In addition, together with career coaches, we offer people who are temporarily looking to change their careers a place to reintegrate. We also work together with colleges in our region such as Windesheim, HAN, TIO and Saxion to offer students a work placement or graduate internship.
🚫 Refurbished Qups – 2023
The Qup’s foam is made of such high quality (new) that its lifespan is much longer than one or two years. The fabric covers have a shorter lifespan due to washing. We are thinking of ways to take in old Qups so that we can dismantle them and reuse the foams for refurbished qups. We also want to start offering old or almost unworn models through second-hand channels, and call on women themselves to do so once they no longer fit certain sizes or have opted for reconstruction and no longer wear Qups.
🚫 Full traceability – 2023
National regulations to make the textile world more transparent focus mainly on material traceability. From 2024, large companies in the Netherlands will have to provide their products with a material passport and care label, making it clear where all materials come from and what % have been recycled. This goes al the way down to the yarn of every fibre. For small companies like ProudBreast, this will be legislation from 2025/2026. So we still have some time, but are working towards this transparency as early as 2023.
🚫 BVM – 2023
In the Netherlands, the impact BV is not yet an official business identity. Therefore, we are registered as a BV. The launch of this new type of BV is expected to be at the end of 2023. We are happy to participate as soon as it is possible.
🚫 Reuse of materials – 2024
From the beginning, the Qup’s top goal was to provide comfort. In doing so, breathability and lightweight were essential. The foam we found for this purpose is a unique kind with little residual material available. It is not widely used in other industries. So we have these foams made new. Our fabrics are also new, to ensure the longest possible lifespan. We continue to look for opportunities to work with residual flows in our production process; this is an ongoing challenge that we take seriously. We are exploring textile partners who specialize in this.
🚫 Sustainable label – 2024
In 2022, we became a member of social-enterprise.nl which says something about our value-driven approach. But we do not yet have other labels that prove the sustainability of our product. We are exploring options to better capture this in the future as well.
This is how we try to develop our Qups with consideration for people and nature, and continuously search for better ways to do so. Still work to be done, but we know what we have to do!