Maas Naturwaren: From nappy retailer to ecological pioneer

Natural fibres made from sustainable raw materials, local production, and energy-efficient processes: sustainability and environmental responsibility have always been part of the company philosophy at Maas Naturwaren natural products. The fashion house in Gütersloh, which started off making collective orders for eco-friendly cotton nappies, specialises in sustainably-produced clothing and integrates customers and suppliers into its commitment to climate protection. Furthermore, as a business it also strives to be completely carbon neutral.

Maas Naturwaren is a true ecological pioneer. In 1985, the family-run business started as the “Wickelkiste” (the nappy changing box): in the course of looking for an alternative to disposable plastic nappies for their first child, personal need grew into a business idea. Since then, the former mail order business for eco-friendly nappies has developed into a textile business employing 180 people, with its own collections, online mail order and a total of eleven retail stores. The company belongs to the founder members of the International Association of the Natural Textile Industry (IVN), which provides certification for sustainable textile and leather products.

Climate protection objective:

  • Supply of the company’s entire electricity needs using its own facilities by means of a second 50 kW photovoltaic system
  • Electromobility in the vehicle fleet and a free pedelec charging station for employees (by the end of 2018)
  • Complete off-setting of all CO2 emissions (in the coming years)

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Photo: Maas Naturwaren GmbH / Ann-Kathrin Singer

The former mail order business for eco-friendly nappies has developed into a textile business employing 180 people, with its own collections, online mail order and a total of eleven retail stores.

Eco-friendly textiles with an eye on the climate

Mass Naturwaren almost exclusively uses natural fibres from sustainable raw materials to produce its fashion items and, whenever possible, utilises fibres that are cultivated or farmed in controlled organic conditions (known as kbA and kbT in German), such as organic cotton, the production of which causes fewer CO2 emissions than conventionally-cultivated cotton due to using less water and energy and fewer fertilizers and pesticides. The clothing is produced in companies that are certified in accordance with ecological and social criteria, mainly in Germany and other European countries, meaning that it is transported over shorter distances than is customary for the clothing sector.

For the current spring/summer collection, the company’s range includes products bearing the bioRe label, where the entire textile production chain – from cultivation to transport right up to subsequent processing – is carbon neutral, or any emissions caused are offset by constructing biogas plants and installing efficient heating stoves.

Climate-friendly operation

In addition, Maas Naturwaren works tirelessly to improve its own processes. Back in 1999, in the course of a building renovation project, the company installed a cogeneration plant, which also powers a geothermal heat pump. Since 2007, there has been a photovoltaic facility with a peak output of 50 kilowatt-hours on the roof of the company’s central office. All the light bulbs have been replaced with LED bulbs. The company covers its remaining electricity needs for the central office and subsidiaries using certified green electricity. Waste management, starting with the packaging used for shipping, is also being constantly improved.

The company has set itself further climate protection targets for the future: the aim of supplying its entire electricity needs using its own facilities should be achieved in 2018 with the installation of a second PV system of the same size. The first steps towards electromobility are also being planned: alongside the company’s own electric vehicles, the employees are also to receive free charging facilities for pedelecs.

Community involvement in the region

Mass Naturwaren also assumes social responsibility through its involvement in climate protection initiatives: the company is one of the co-signatories of the CSR Charter of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of East Westphalia in Lippe and supports a variety of social projects, such as integrating people who are most disadvantaged or disabled into working life, and the AWO (workers’ wellbeing organisation) initiative “Brotzeit” (snack time), which provides a balanced breakfast for school children. In 2016, Maas Natur received the entrepreneurial award of “sustainably successful” from the Kommende Social Institute in Dortmund.

Photo: Maas Naturwaren GmbH / Ann-Kathrin Singer

"Live naturally, wear natural fabrics – we have been putting this conviction into practice for more than 30 years at Maas Natur. We only really consider fashion to be beautiful if all the people involved in the production process are treated with respect, if it is sustainable and if it preserves the natural environment."

Gisela Kaufmann-Maas and Reinhard Maas, Managing Directors of Maas Naturwaren GmbH