The so-called “post-petroleum” shoe, Veja’s new sustainable running shoes, join the growing number of eco-friendly running trainers.
But wait, does that mean your current running shoes are made from petroleum? It’s highly likely the answer is yes.
In fact, sneakers have one of the heaviest carbon footprints of anything we wear. A study conducted by MIT found a typical pair of running shoes generates approximately 13.6 kilograms of CO2 emissions. “Unusually high,” comments Randolph Kirchain, one of the co-authors of the research, for a product that does not use electricity or require power-driving components. The bulk of emissions come from manufacturing, which is unsurprising considering the production processes and materials involved.
In fact, the footwear industry as a whole relies on petroleum as it’s essentially the source of plastic, with running shoes, in particular, dependent on the greasy, goopy stuff. In order for running shoes to do their job by stabilising the foot and soften the impact, the typical shoe ends up being made almost entirely from plastic and foam.
Although we know these materials are a calamity, the truth is that they are cheap and practical. Beyond the cool designs and endless colourways, running shoes have to have flexibility, strength, and memory; with plastic being the best and cheapest material to deliver on this.
“The typical running shoe is completely made of plastic,” Veja co-founder Sébastien Kopp explained to Vogue. “And what is plastic? Ninety-nine per cent petroleum.” Petroleum-derived plastics include polyester, thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA). “Our society’s dependence on plastic and oil is an ecological and social disaster,” he adds.
The difference here with Veja’s first ever performance running shoe, the Condor, is that it’s made from 53% natural or recycled materials including wild Amazonian rubber, jute, and banana oil. The sole is a combination of wild Amazonian rubber, rice waste and synthetic rubber, whereas the upper is made from a mesh created using plastic bottles picked up on the streets of Rio and Sao Paolo.
Whilst 53% of the shoe is made from natural and recycled materials, the remaining 47 percent is rubber and virgin plastic, specifically ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), much to the makers’ frustrations.
Image courtesy: Veja | Arthur Wollenweber
It’s a number that co-founder Sébastien Kopp says is an honest, if improvable, entry point for a running shoe made by an independent, self-funded company. Afterall, they are competing against the likes of Everlane and Allbirds, who have both received huge amounts of funding to develop trainers that are more fit for stylishly hitting the city pavements, while Adidas has been pumping millions into R&D projects around sustainable footwear.
Designed for long runs (but not serious marathons), the goal was to incorporate more bio-based ingredients while ensuring that the shoe could reliably pound the pavement for a couple of years without falling apart. They quickly realised that replacing virgin plastic was much easier in the shoe’s superficial components. A mesh upper made entirely from recycled plastic bottles comes in gray, white, neon yellow, and black. The brand’s signature V decal is constructed from 100 percent castor oil, while the lining on the inside of the shoe is made from organic cotton and recycled plastic bottles.
However, the main structure of the shoe was more difficult. The outsole, the inner sole and the midsole are all commonly made from plastic, and every company has its own tightly held recipe for its foam’s fit and feel.
Nevertheless, since the Condor is less performance-based than something like Adidas or Nike’s marathon-ready trainers, it meant Veja could experiment with some of the materials in its sole. According to Veja, their material scientists spent three years searching for a mix of ingredients that would create a strong outsole that wasn’t pure synthetic rubber. They landed on a mixture of 30 per cent wild rubber, 39 per cent synthetic rubber, and 31 per cent rice husk that makes the sole light but firm.
Image courtesy: Veja | Arthur Wollenweber
The midsole, too, is a combination of bio-based and synthetic materials. Fifty-five percent of the midsole is made from regular EVA—a modern, if environmentally destructive, marvel of material science known for its lightweight bounciness. For the other half, Veja created a bio-based foam made from banana oil (for flexibility), rice husk (for firmness), and sugarcane, the latter of which is quickly becoming a common replacement for petroleum-based materials like EVA. For the insole, Veja concocted a mixture of regular EVA, jute, wild rubber, recycled plastic bottles, and recycled EVA that comes from the scraps generated during production.
The end product is still a shoe made with plastic, but less so than before. This incremental approach is the most realistic—and honest—way to banish virgin plastic from the shoe production cycle, Kopp says. “The best way to prevent greenwashing is to talk about the present,” he says.
Thanks to Veja transparency, it’s possible to see areas like this where there are limitations in the availability of sustainable materials that perform well enough for these important pieces of sports equipment. Absorbing shock is vitally important in performance footwear and, whilst Veja have managed to reduce the quantity of EVA in their shoes it is still essential to their running optimisation.
EVA is not currently a commonly recyclable material.
While most winter parka jackets are made out of nylon, twill, or maybe waxed cotton, The North Face have come out with one made from synthetic spider silk.
The North Face Moon Parka, a prototype jacket created using a new material called Qmonos that promises to be stronger than steel, is a special edition coat from The North Face that’s currently on an exhibition tour of the company’s Japanese stores. With a very special, luminescent shell; the material is made from an ersatzspider silk developed by Japanese company Spiber, a biotechnology company engaged in the development of synthetic protein materials.
Image courtesy: Spiber
According to Spiber’s website, the company is still working to increase yield, which will be vital to bringing this and other synthetic silk products to market The advantages of Spiber’s material over existing fabrics have yet to be made public, aside from the obvious. At the same time, The North Face still hasn’t settled on a price point for the jacket. In other words: there’s still plenty to be worked out. Even if these gold coats make their way to market, don’t expect to see synthetic spider silk everywhere just yet.
Image courtesy: Polymers grown in the lab, using no fossil fuels or petroleum | Spiber
This jacket is more a proof of concept if you like. Spiber President Kazuhide Sekiyama launched the company in 2007 with a seemingly straightforward mission: to develop polymers with the near-magical properties of spider silk that can be produced sustainably, at scale.
And it’s not a new idea. Spider silk is renowned for its strength and resiliency; it’s tougher than Kevlar by weight but more elastic and responsive than fibres like cotton, making it a highly covetable material for manufacturers—especially those in the automobile, aeronautics, and military industries.
The thing is, farming silk from spiders isn’t as simple as harvesting wool from sheep, or milk from cows. It takes a lot of spiders a lot of time to produce not a lot of silk. What’s more, arachnids housed together in captivity have a nasty habit of eating one another. Consequently, researchers have been searching for a way to mass-produce synthetic spider silk for years. Usually, this involves inserting genes from spiders into other organisms—yeast, alfalfa, and even goats have been genetically modified to produce synthetic spider silk proteins.
To date, nobody has been able to manufacture synthetic silk on par with the real stuff. But companies like Spiber are getting closer.
Image courtesy: Spiber
Spiber, for its part, uses genetically modified bacteria to produce its synthetic silk proteins.Researchers feed the bacteria sugar, which they turn into synthetic silk proteins. Those proteins are spun into silk polymers through an extrusion nozzle with microscopic holes that are meant to mimic a spider’s silk-spinning organ. Spiber has over 650 types of polymers in its lab and it’s an entirely biological process. One that Spiber says requires no fossil fuels or petroleum.
Course, Spiber isn’t the first to this discovery. California based Bolt Threads announced last year that it had managed to make synthetic spider silk at scale.
Image courtesy: Spiber
Spiber and The North Face haven’t settled on a price yet but they are in the process of getting the Moon Parka ready for market. Plus, in the interest of Spiber’s ultimate goal, which is to “push humanity away from petroleum-based materials and toward a more sustainable future”, they hope to keep the cost as low as possible.
This comes at a time when world leaders convened last week at this year’s G7 Summit in Biarritz and were joined by more than 20 fashion retailers and brands, including the owner of Gucci, Kering, H&M and Zara’s parent company, Inditex, for an important fashion moment – a global pact to fight the climate crisis and protect biodiversity and the oceans.
Image courtesy: Climate change activists during an Extinction Rebellion protest during London Fashion Week | Yui Mok/PA
It’s undeniable that the global fashion industry faces an unparalleled backlash from young people concerned that it is contributing more to climate change than the aeronautical and shipping industries combined. Left unchecked, the industry is set to account for a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050.
In fact, many are anticipating that next month’s London fashion week will be met with immense hostility from campaigners of Extinction Rebellion who want the event scrapped in the face of the climate emergency.
While we support calls for the fashion industry to take heed and up their efforts to lessen their environmental and social impact, we don’t believe cancelling fashion weeks is the answer. Championing craftsmanship, material provenance, design and innovation can be the solution if done in a meaningful way.
Case in point, Burberry’s move to release a capsule collection crafted from Econyl. A good start and one that they will hopefully build upon and move closer to fully adopting a circular model.
The Econyl capsule includes nine womenswear pieces and four pieces for men, all focussed on outerwear. The women’s collection features trench coats, longline jackets and parkas, plus a chic, yet practical, logo print backpack, with pieces ranging from £750 to £1190.
Econyl is the name of the fabric which is made by Aquafil (a global producer of synthetic fibres).
The company is tackling fashion’s pollution problem head-on by collecting post-consumer materials from our oceans and landfills, then regenerating this waste into one of the sturdiest and most versatile fabrics on the market. Econyl is leading the conversation in circular fashion by offering an infinitely recyclable fabric to some of the biggest fashion companies in the world.
The epitome of circularity, Recover Yarn is one of those miracle materials that allows for a closed-loop and sustainable fashion industry.
Get this. In 1947 the Ferre family, in their native Banyeres de Mariola, a small town in Alicante, Spain, began recycling textile waste into cotton yarn and have been turning waste into resources ever since. Most proud of pioneering sustainable materials and processes, Ferre allows for a truly closed-loop fashion industry. In 2006, the company launched its unique system of textile waste collection and recycling, named Recover; a name that defines both the company’s process and purpose. Then in 2015, the Recover Upcycled Textile System was officially launched and today has led to the company becoming an authority in upcycled cotton yarn.
So, how does it work exactly?
Used clothes and old textile waste are deposited at collection bins for re-wear or recycling, and then recovered and sorted from all over the planet. Led by a team of experts in textiles, fashion and sustainability who work to propel the development of a closed-loop industry, the Recover Upcycled Textile System upcycles textile waste into new Recover fibre by cutting, shredding and spinning what was once considered “waste” into valuable new recover yarns. The Recover yarns are then knitted or woven into new textiles for virtually every product imaginable, from clothing, accessories, and home goods. And, once used and eventually worn-out, they can be returned to the Recover Upcycled Textile System where they close the loop and begin the journey of recovery once more.
Not only does Recover Upcycled Cotton Yarns score the best in the Higg MSI Index that measures and scores the environmental impact of materials used in creating textile products, but their materials are free of hazardous substances, and exceeds ZDHC and Reach Compliance (calculated through LCA work).
So, what are the materials helping to close-the-loop on fashion?
Recover R WOOL (natural)
This new yarn is an upcycled blend of post-industrial wool cutting scraps, recycled PET bottles, and Nylon 6.6, designed for maximum strength and softness.
Recover R EARTH (upcycled and natural)
This new yarn is a natural blend of Recover Upcycled Cotton and virgin organic cotton for comfort and durability.
Recover R Uno (upcycled cotton)
The first family of Recover Upcycled Cotton yarns blended with virgin fibres for specific performance, comfort and value.
Recover R Blue (100% upcycled blend)
A classic blend of Recover Upcycled Cotton and post-consumer RPET bottles, designed for comfort and all types of fashion.
Recover R Tech (Upcycled performance)
A high-performance yarn designed for technical applications; wicking, breathable and quick-dry blend of RPET bottles and Recover Upcycled Cotton.
Recover R3 (Upcycled Triblend)
A soft and sheer tri-blend of Recover Upcycled Cotton, RPET Bottles and Tencel®, for fashion garments specifically.
Recover R Jeans (Upcycled Denim Garments)
The state of the art in garments recycling, Recover R Jeans is made using a natural blend of Recover Upcycled Cotton from (pre-and-post-consumer) denim garments and organic cotton.
And there you have it. Certified by Global Recycled Standard, as well as OEKO-TEX Standard 100, Recover is trusted worldwide as one of the leading recycled cotton yarn systems, creating long-lasting, high-value, and importantly, lowest-impact products for many life-cycles to come.
For all their glittering appeal, sequins are pretty awful for the environment. Most are made from petroleum plastics and synthetic resin – materials that are not only damaging to natural ecosystems but also to the workers tasked with sewing them on to garments by hand. Given the amount of sequins it takes to make a single garment, it presents a big big problem.
Designer Elissa Brunato is hoping to change this by creating sustainable sequins that shimmer without the use of chemicals. Winner of the Creative Review Innovation Award – a new prize founded in partnership with the MullenLowe NOVA Awards to celebrate creative projects which solve a problem, she developed the Bio Iridescent Sequin, a shimmering bead made from natural cellulose that is more sustainable than regular plastic sequins.
Instead of using petroleum-based plastic, Central Saint Martins graduate Brunato has developed a way of making glittering disc-shaped beads from bioplastic based on cellulose extracted from trees. The cellulose’s crystalline form refracts light and makes the sequins naturally shimmery, without the need for chemical treatment.
With her bio sequins, Brunato is hoping to help tackle a major issue in fashion and textiles and prove that natural materials can be just as beautiful as manmade ones.
Image courtesy: Elissa Brunato
Brunato worked with material scientists at RISE Research Institutes in Sweden to develop sequins using cellulose derived from wood. These sequins are as lightweight as their plastic counterparts but are completely biodegradable and can be grown in moulds in as little as 24 hours.
“Cellulose is one of the most abundant polymers available on earth. It is one of the main ingredients plants are constructed from and you can extract it from any type of tree,” Brunato explained to Dezeen recently.
“As the material forms very strong bonds, the sequins are light and use very little cellulose per sequin,” explained Brunato.
Image courtesy: Elissa Brunato
“In the future, the cellulose could originate from anything from fruit peels, or algae to used denim and waste paper.”
Brunato developed the Bio Iridescent Sequin after talking to sequin suppliers and realising there was a growing demand for more sustainable materials from fashion brands such as Stella McCartney and the LVMH group, whose brands include Louis Vuitton and Fenty.
“For a tree, as in the case of the first sequins I’ve made, the cellulose takes about a hundred years to form sufficiently. This is remarkably short in comparison to crude oil, which takes thousands of years to form,” explained Brunato.
Image courtesy: Elissa Brunato
The sequins are currently at the development stage. The next steps include industrial testing for their biodegradable performance.
Dresses embroidered with sequins have seen a resurgence in popularity recently but experts fear that plastic sequins are disastrous for the environment.
As a result, designers are increasingly looking for ways to produce more sustainable materials for the fashion industry. Bolt Threads is a start-up in California that is experimenting with a type of silk made using yeast and sugar, which has been used to make a dress by Adidas x Stella McCartney. While Canadian footwear brand Native Shoes has developed the world’s 100% biodegradable trainer made from eucalyptus and pineapple husk.
We’ve Already Used Up All Of Earth’s Budgeted Resources For The Year
For real. No joke. We’ve already used up our allowance for natural resources – including water, soil, and clean air – for all of 2019 and it’s only the start of August. Scary times.
A new report by sustainability organisation Global Footprint Network shows that this year’s Earth Overshoot Day – the date when consumption for the year exceeds the Earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources – is the earliest ever.
July 29 is Earth Overshoot Day for 2019.
At our current consumption rates, we would reportedly need 1.75 planets to produce enough to meet humanity’s needs, meaning we’re using resources almost twice as fast as we should. The study declares: “The costs of this global ecological overspending are becoming increasingly evident in the form of deforestation, soil erosion, biodiversity loss, or the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The latter leads to climate change and more frequent extreme weather events.”
Earth Overshoot Day has moved forward drastically over the last 40 years, moving two whole months in the last two decades alone.
Although we are currently able to overuse resources, Global Footprint Network founder Mathis Wackernagel states that humanity will eventually have to operate within the means of the Earth’s resources, with balance restored either by disaster or design.
“We have only got one Earth,” Wackernagel presses, “this is the ultimate defining context for human existence. We can’t use 1.75 without destructive consequences.”
The organisation is now pushing its #MoveTheDate campaign which aims to move Earth Overshoot Day back by five days each year, allowing “humanity to reach one-planet compatibility before 2050”. The primary aim of the campaign is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, with the study detailing that cutting CO2 by 50 per cent from fossil fuel burning would give humanity 93 more days yearly.
Image courtesy: Protesters in Parliament Square, London demanding change to climate actionvia | Twitter (@_HWright)
adidas by Stella McCartney Pilot Fully Recyclable Hoodie
The new sustainable initiative by adidas by Stella McCartney turns waste into usable fibres in the coolest of ways by using liquified old cotton to create sustainable sportswear.
The two pioneering brands have teamed up with innovative sustainable company Evrnu to turn old clothing into new garments in an attempt to address waste in the fashion industry. The prototype represents the world’s first fully recyclable hoodie, one of two prototypes for the new collection and major progress for sustainable fashion.
The new clothing line uses a technology called NuCycl, which purifies and liquefies old cotton and transforms it into new material ready to be made into adidas x stella mccartney sports-luxe clothes. Stacy Flynn, co-founder and CEO of Evrnu says, “our goal is to convert that garment waste into new fibre so that we eliminate the context of waste in the supply chain.”
Image courtesy: adidas by Stella McCartney ‘Infinite Hoodie’ and Biofabric Tennis Dress
To avoid weakening the original fabrics, Evrnu uses the chemical-based NuCycl process to break down the cotton to its original polymer. Once the polymers are extracted and are a liquid pulp they are put into a 3D-printer-like machine which forms new yarn, which will be used to make the sustainable line of adidas by Stella McCartney garments.
Pieces such as the “Infinite Hoodie” incorporate a jacquard knit comprised of 60 per cent NuCycl™ regenerated fibre and 40 per cent organic cotton that has been diverted from landfills, which when combined creates a stronger and more durable compound than the original fabric. The inaugural NuCycl pieces will be produced in a limited run of 50, which will all be given to athletes.
Image courtesy: adidas x Stella McCartney
This is the second drop, with the first being a pioneering 100% biodegradable biofabric adidas tennis dress. Created in combination with Bolt Threads – a company specialising in bioengineered sustainable materials and fibres, including a leather alternative made using mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms – the dress is made from cellulose blended yearn and Microsilk, a protein-based material made using renewable ingredients such as sugar, water and yeast, and has the ability to fully biodegrade at the end of its life.
In a statement, Stella McCartney says: “Fashion is one of the most harmful industries to the environment. We can’t wait any longer to search for answers and alternatives.
“By creating a truly open approach to solving the problem of textile waste, we can help empower the industry at large to bring more sustainable practices into reality.
“With adidas by Stella McCartney we’re creating high performance products that also safeguard the future of the planet.”
The Stella Mccartney adidas partnership is a long-standing one, dropping hyper desirable pieces that have included Stella McCartney trainers including the Stella McCartney Ultra Boost.
Made in partnership with textile innovations company Evrnu, the hoodie is designed to be reused and remade in the future.
Currently just 50 hoodies have been made and gifted to adidas VIPs and influencers, but there’s nothing to say they won’t hit the production lines soon so watch this space.
Plus, should either of these products ever reach mass production, such items would create a loop in which fashion products would suddenly be capable of biodegrading and returning to the natural ecosystem. Oh, what a day!
At this year Milan Design Week, Alcarol unveiled the OCEAN NETWORKS_ Collection in a world premiere.
The project aims to represent one of the main problems submerged in our oceans today: ghost nets, and become part of the solution. An astounding 640,000 tons of fishing nets are abandoned in our oceans every year and are responsible for the destruction of millions of sea creatures.
These fishing nets are made of nylon, a high-performance plastic that is now completely recyclable. Recognising the opportunities for to do good, Alcarol has turned this harmful ocean waste into beautiful, design-driven eco furniture.
The tabletops of Alcarol prototypes are made of some coloured nets from the oceans melted together with ECONYL® polymer, produced through an innovative and sustainable chemical process that regenerates nylon waste including fishing and aquaculture.
The tabletops of the prototypes are multicoloured since they melt together nets of various colours, dramatically tangled as in the seabed, with a surprising marbled effect. The legs of the tables are made of glass slabs and aluminium fixings – two of the best examples of recyclable materials in the world – and are simply wedged and screwed in the nylon tabletops. This straightforward construction means each part can be easily removed in order to make the prototypes 100% recyclable in the future.
In fact, it is said that through the transparency and reflections of the glass at different heights, the coloured fishing nets of the tabletops seem to float, as an abstract reflection about the fragile condition of our oceans.
Further, the beauty of using ECONYL® nylon is that qualitywise there is no difference with a standard one coming from oil. The big difference is that it can be recycled, recreated and remoulded infinitely, without any loss in quality.
A necessary innovation that is not only doing good and helping our oceans but will be a key design feature in the chicest of homes. Quite literally a coffee table like no other.
Prada Reinvents Its Iconic Nylon Bag To Be Eco-Friendly
Prada re-launches its cult nylon bag in recycled ocean plastic.
As dialogue around sustainability and ethical responsibility move to the forefront of the fashion industry, more brands are working hard to implement positive, lasting change, and this now includes luxury Italian fashion house, Prada.
The refreshing decision to launch a pioneering new project which stays true to their iconic aesthetic whilst reflecting the changing demands of both their customers and our physical environment, Prada is ushering in the kind of change that needs to happen across all sectors of the fashion industry, including luxury.
The launch of Re-Nylon follows the Italian fashion brand’s decision back in May to no longer use fur. The new line is an eco-friendly collection of their iconic bag silhouettes, this time executed in progressive new nylon, Econyl, a 100% regenerated fibre from fishnets and another nylon excess.
The Prada Re-Nylon collection reintroduces six classic styles for men and women: the belt bag, the shoulder bag, a tote, duffle, and two Prada backpacks. The entire collection is produced from environmentally-friendly materials and features a pretty cool interpretation of the signature triangular Prada logo we all know.
“Our ultimate goal will be to convert all Prada virgin nylon into Re-Nylon by the end of 2021,” said Lorenzo Bertelli, Prada Group Head of Marketing and Communications. “This project highlights our continued efforts towards promoting responsible business. This collection will allow us to make our contribution and create products without using new resources.”
As part of the launch, the brand will also showcase the cutting-edge processes behind the Re-Nylon through “What We Carry,” a series of videos in partnership with National Geographic. Of the five episodes, each will take the viewer through each material that makes up Econyl yarn, revealing the inner workings of the factories and facilities that produce this state-of-the-art, planet-loving fabric.
In the video above, Prada’s reporter Bonnie Wright and National Geographic Explorer’s Asher Jay show us one of the materials that make up Econyl.
Thankfully, this is not simply a token effort in order to be seen to be conscious, as Prada has revealed that their ultimate goal is to convert all of their virgin nylon into this regenerated nylon by 2021.
A percentage of proceeds from the sale of the Prada Re-Nylon capsule will be donated to a project related to environmental sustainability.
Want to understand this topic more? Read up on eco-plastics here.
Gomi Portable Speakers Made From Non-Recyclable Plastic Waste
In a move to prove waste is valuable, Brighton-based design studio Gomi has created a portable bluetooth speaker using plastic waste that is deemed non-recyclable by local councils in the UK.
Designed and crafted from flexible plastic waste, this includes materials such as plastic bags and bubble wrap made of low-density polyethylene, which is currently not accepted by UK councils for recycling because it costs more to process and recycle than what the material can be resold for. Sadly, this means that once it’s been used, it is then sent to landfill or incineration.
Thankfully though, there are innovative companies like Gomi, who are taking this waste material and transforming it into long-lasting products.
Each speaker features a rectangular body formed from colourful hand-marbled plastic, which means that every product has its own individual aesthetic and colour pattern, depending on the particular plastic waste that has gone into making it. With the equivalent of 100 plastic bags in non-recyclable plastic going into the body of each speaker, they consist of three modular components that can be easily separated and melted down into new parts for future products without losing any material value.
Image courtesy: Gomi
The studio worked with local food wholesalers who typically use a large amount of packaging that is usually thrown away, as well as from consumers and the seafront in Brighton, UK.
“With our bluetooth speakers, we want to intercept a waste stream that would otherwise be landfilled or incinerated,” explained Meades to Dezeen.
It was important that the speaker was “not only aesthetically desirable but also sounds great”. To achieve this, the studio worked with electronic engineers and audio professionals to hone the sound of the speaker.
Image courtesy: Gomi
The studio embarked on the project after its research found that plastic waste makes up 85 per cent of the pollution on beaches across the world, and that the UK throws away 300 million kilos of flexible plastic each year.
“We were inspired by the cradle-to-cradle design process, thinking about our products full life-cycle right from the beginning of our design process,” said Gomi co-founder Tom Meades.
In a bid to move towards a circular economy, the design studio is aiming to offer free repairs for their products and a system where customers can return the products to be recycled.
Did you know that fabric dyeing accounts for 20% of global water pollution? Wild, isn’t it?
With fabric dyeing now accounting for 20 per cent of global water pollution and countless health issues from the 8000 chemicals used in the process, more needs to be done to shine a spotlight on brands that are developing alternative methods to dyeing textiles and footwear.
That’s the message behind Fashion for Good’s latest project. The Amsterdam-based platform, which promotes innovation and better practices across the global fashion ecosystem, launched a new theme “Colour” for its revolving exhibit and retail space.
Among the curated collection selected for the temporary shop is Tommy Hilfiger’s new range of 100 per cent recycled denim, developed locally at the PVH Denim Center in Amsterdam. The Spring ’19 jeans are made with recycled cotton and factory offcuts, as well as using a dyeing method that requires 95 per cent less water than conventional denim dyeing, and an innovative process that ensures 100 per cent of the applied indigo is absorbed and remains on the yarn.
Image courtesy: Fashion for Good | Dave Pelham Photography
Among the other products on offer include vegan shoes designed by Belgian designer Mats Rombaut, Fjällräven backpacks dyed with We are Spin Dye’s clean and transparent colouring method for synthetic fibres (which reduces the environmental impact compared to the traditional dyeing process), and naturally dyed garments by Audrey Louise Reynolds.
The Fashion for Good Experience will run for three months, with a programme centred around innovations in dyeing and digital printing. Visitors to the Amsterdam space will have the chance to dive into the topic with leading experts and learn about the trailblazing techniques of pioneers within the industry.
The Fashion for Good Experience curates a new brand showcase every four months, highlighting companies that are pushing the boundaries in sustainable fashion, after having launched in October 2018 with the capsule collection, “Splash: rethinking the role of water in fashion.” Earlier this year, it launched “Naked: a transparent journey in fashion” with a shop that stocked trendy brands like Reformation and Allbirds.
With the overall message being: Good Fashion is a journey. It’s not just about how you buy clothes, but also how you consider the role of fashion in your life. A curated closet, a preference for sustainable materials, a commitment to treasure your clothes — what it looks like is entirely up to you.
Earlier this month, the French government announced that they will ban the destruction of unsold merchandise, including clothing, footwear and accessories, in the next four years.
French prime minister Edouard Philippe announced a ban on the destruction of unused product, citing that each year in France 650 million euros worth of new, unsold merchandise is being either thrown away or burned in France every year. Aiming to implement this within the next four years, the regulations will mean that brands will be discouraged from overproducing; made to recycle or reuse any materials unsold.
In fashion, the incineration of garments has been a prominent topic ever since Burberry admitted to burning over £28 million of stock in an attempt to protect brand image and exclusivity, as well as Amazon exposed to incinerating returned or unsold consumer items for reasons relating to storage.
It is inspiring to see the French government take a stand on such corporate behaviour. Regulations of this kind are necessary not only to prevent the destruction of new and perfect condition clothes, but they also inhibit brands from overproducing and thus preventing garments from ending up in a landfill.
According to the Environmental Audit Committee, fashion houses reportedly get rid of over a million tonnes of clothes annually. With Paris being the world’s fashion capital, it is clear this new legislation will help fashion’s waste problem and ultimately lead to less product being sent to the landfills which contribute to climate change. Here’s hoping that the rest of the fashion capitals follow suit.
Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we see other governments wake up and take similar action around the fashion industry and its contribution to waste and the implications this has on the planet.
For World Oceans Day, Selfridges created a plastic pollution pop-up called the Project Ocean Beauty Booth to bring attention to the fact that fewer products from the bathroom are recycled as compared to those from the kitchen. Inside the sustainably focused shop-in-shop, Selfridges is showcasing sustainable alternatives like eco-friendly glitter cosmetics made from cellulose and paper-wrapped shampoo bars, as well as a variety of eco-friendly beauty products that are mindfully created and packaged.
As part of its Project Ocean mission, Selfridges is aiming to make 50% of its products better for people and the planet by the year 2022. Over the course of nine years, Selfridges’ Project Ocean has removed plastic shopping bags and single-serve water bottles, plus products like toiletries that contain environment-polluting microbeads.
Jetting off on your holiday and looking to minimise your plastic waste, while looking grease-free on the beach? Instead of reaching for last minute sunscreen in the airport Boots, save a little room in your suitcase for REN Clean Skincare‘s Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 Mattifying Face Sunscreen Broad Spectrum. Not only does it protect from blue light and has broad spectrum SPF30 UVA/UVB protection but it’s also got the highest level of recycled packaging possible while still protecting the formula (50% recycled packaging in the tube and 100% recycled plastic in the cap – plus its one-type plastic so it can be recycled all over again)! It’s also vegan, cruelty and silicone-free, and is non-toxic to marine life as it’s also oxybenzone-free too.
Looking good + doing good = feeling good: this formula is at the heart of REN Clean Skincare’s ethos. Think safe skincare, free from toxins, harsh (or controversial) chemicals and no potential irritants.
It’s true what your mum says, everything is good in moderation and the same goes for your diet. The answer is not for everyone to become vegan as that’s an unrealistic target. Plus, there’s a whole bunch of issues relating to processed vegan alternatives. Instead, what we should all be aiming for is a reduction in our intake of animal-based foods and replace them with plant-based options, if we’re to successfully tackle environmental destruction at scale.
Thankfully, there are organisations out there committed to helping people make this lifestyle shift, and they’re offering up tasty alternatives, too!
What is the Planetary Health Diet?
The planetary health diet is a global reference diet for adults that is symbolically represented by half a plate of fruits, vegetables and nuts. The other half consists of primarily whole grains, plant proteins (beans, lentils, pulses), unsaturated plant oils, modest amounts of meat and dairy, and some added sugars and starchy vegetables. The diet is quite flexible and allows for adaptation to dietary needs, personal preferences and cultural traditions. Vegetarian and vegan diets are two healthy options within the planet health diet but are personal choices.
What is the Planetary Health Challenge?
The #planetaryhealthchallenge is based on the EAT-Lancet findings that introduce the planetary health diet – the optimal diet for people and planet. To become part of the movement, all you have to do is eat more vegetables, fruits, legumes and nuts every day. The hope of the Eat Foundation is that by creating this movement and sharing daily practical tips, tempting recipes, interviews with cool chefs, podcast episodes or other surprises, we will move towards a world where we waste less food and eat more plants.
Our fave recipes include:
Cauliflower Chili Con Carne
Have you ever tried Cauliflower Chili Con Carne? The dish can easily be made vegetarian/vegan by replacing the meat with beans! This is the 7th recipe in EAT’s one week dinner menu. It is made by Norwegian chef Lise Finckenhagen and aligns with EAT-Lancet’s Planetary Health Diet.
Serves: 4 portions Time: approx. 2 hours
300 g brown beans, cooked
400 g chuck steak (or extra brown beans if you want the plant-based version “Chili Sin Carne”).
1 large onion
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
400 g plum tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1 red chilli
1 tsp ground coriander
1 small cinnamon stick
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp brown sugar or liquid honey
300 ml beef stock/broth
2 tbsp dark chocolate (at least 70%), grated
4 tbsp rapeseed oil or mild olive oil for frying
Salt and ground pepper
Natural yoghurt or sour cream
Chopped fresh parsley and/or coriander
Cut the meat into small pieces. Peel and chop the onion and the peppers into even-size pieces. Remove the stems from the tomatoes and chop. Thinly slice the chilli and garlic.
In a thin-bottomed pan, fry the onion, chilli and garlic in 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the dried herbs and the meat. Fry until the meat has browned.
Stir in tomato purée and add tomatoes, paprika, stock/broth, sugar and a good pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and leave to simmer for another half an hour, or until the meat is really tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Thoroughly rinse the beans in water and stir them into the mixture towards the end of the cooking time. Grate the chocolate and stir it in right at the end (possibly saving some for sprinkling on before serving).
Wash and grate the cauliflower or break it into rough pieces and blend it in a food processor until it resembles rice (or small grains). Heat a large frying pan containing 2 tablespoons of oil and fry the cauliflower rice for 3-4 minutes, stirring regularly. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Wrangler’s New Denim Uses 100 Percent Less Water in Dyeing
Legacy American jeans brand Wrangler is addressing the mighty impact clothes-making can have on the environment and making moves to produce their denim products in a more sustainable way, notably the introduction of denim dyed with foam, an innovative technique that uses 100 per cent less water than conventionally dyed denim.
The global launch of foam-dyed denim follows Wrangler’s Indigood commitment to discover and implement the most sustainable ways for dyeing denim throughout its supply chain. The impressive stats for the foam-dyed denim range include 100 per cent water reduction, 30 per cent recycled cotton, and 100 per cent eco-tech finishing.
Wrangler’s factories in Valencia, Spain, where she learned about their newest sustainable initiative. While she was there, Wrangler’s senior director of sustainability, Roian Atwood, told her that the company have decided to target the process of indigo dyeing – “because it has the most significant visual and ecological impact on the planet.”
The legendary denim brand has helped pioneer a technology that has the potential to revolutionize sustainability standards for the entire denim industry.
Indigood Foam-Dye fully replaces the traditional water vats and chemical baths of conventional indigo dyeing, reducing by 100 per cent the amount of water required to turn raw denim into indigo blue, according to Wrangler. The new dyeing process also reduces energy use and waste more than 60 per cent compared to the conventional denim dyeing process.
Image courtesy: Wrangler
“Indigood raises the bar on what consumers can expect from us in terms of environmental performance,” Roian Atwood, director of sustainability at Wrangler, said. “We are continuously looking for opportunities to improve the sustainable impact of our products from field to seam and we are proud of what we’ve promised to achieve through Indigood.”
Essentially, what happens is an indigo foam solution is applied dry to cotton yarn, which dyes it the classic denim blue. The yarn is then put in nitrogen to prevent oxygenation, meaning the jeans don’t need to be soaked multiple times or rinsed through chemicals, which both contribute to the huge amount of water the traditional dyeing process requires.
The Indigood technique will be used first in Wrangler’s Icons range, which is a three-piece denim capsule that came out in spring 2019 and includes some of Wrangler’s most iconic products produced through the highest level of sustainability available. The Indigood products also incorporate recycled cotton, laser finishing and ozone finishing, all considered sustainable manufacturing.
Continuing on their global sustainability goals, Wrangler said it plans to conserve 5.5 billion litres of water at owned and operated facilities by 2020, using 100 per cent preferred chemistry throughout its supply chain by 2020, power all owned and operated facilities with only renewable electricity by 2025, and source 100 per cent sustainable cotton by 2025.
Everything To Know About World Environment Day 2019
Today is World Environment Day. A time when the world collectively reflects on pressing environmental issues and seeks to raise awareness of ways in which we can all contribute in order to preserve this beautiful planet we share with one another.
The international event was founded in 1972 by the General Assembly, who designated the 5th of June as World Environment Day to commemorate the first major conference on environmental issues at the United Nations. The objective of the landmark conference over forty years ago remains the same to this day: to urge “governments and the organisations in the United Nations system to undertake on that day every year worldwide activities reaffirming their concern for the preservation and enhancement of the environment, with a view to deepening environmental awareness and to pursuing the determination expressed at the Conference.”
Since that first recognition, World Environment Day has helped generate political momentum around a multitude of climate issues, such as the depletion of the ozone layer, toxic chemicals, desertification, deforestation and global warming.
Today, World Environment Day provides us with the opportunity to help drive small changes in our daily lives, as well as push for greater changes at the national and international environmental policy level.
This year’s World Environment Day is tackling air pollution – and here’s why
In the UK alone, Oxford Street can be a daunting experience, not least because of the thousands of shoppers that pack the capital’s ultimate shopping destination, but there’s a more frightening danger that lurks, namely the illegal levels of pollution that sit heavily in the air year-round. In fact, in 2018, air pollution on Oxford Street breached EU nitrogen dioxide limits 80% of the time.
And it’s not just Oxford Street. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution was responsible for seven million premature deaths worldwide, with over 600,000 of these children under five years old. These frightful statistics are the reason that this year’s World Environment Day is themed around raising awareness in an attempt to tackle the global threat of air pollution.
While the issue of pollution has hit the mainstream when it comes to skincare, and beauty brands quick to offer topical protection and anti-oxidant rich solutions to combat resulting in free-radical damage, the problem goes far, far deeper than skin.
The toxic chemicals in the air, including particle matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), are produced by transport, agriculture, power generation, burning fuel for cooking as well as other industrial sources and cause an array of life-threatening medical conditions. The chemicals penetrate the lungs and cardiovascular system, causing diseases including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and respiratory infections like pneumonia.
While the UK has made legislative changes that have seen improvements across the country, the problem is still huge worldwide. Unsurprisingly, low and middle-income countries account for over 90% of air pollution-related deaths. This is not only due to outdoor air pollution resulting from industry and transport, but also due to the fact that many people are still using solid fuels, like wood, charcoal, and coal as well as kerosene in open fires and inefficient stoves to cook their food. These methods of cooking produce huge amounts of indoor, domestic pollution, causing 3.8 million premature deaths every single year.
In partnership with BreatheLife – a growing network that includes 63 cities, regions, and countries; reaching over 271.4 million citizens – this World Environment Day invites everyone to join a global campaign for cleaner air by joining the mask challenge. The challenge involves posting photos wearing jazzed-up or self-made pollution masks, tagging three people you would like to challenge to do the same, along with the hashtags #WorldEnvironmentDay and #BeatAirPollution.
Here’s everything you need to know about World Environment Day 2019, and the ways in which you can get involved:
When is World Environment Day?
World Environment takes place on the 5th of June every year.
What is this year’s theme?
This year, the United Nations have chosen the theme ‘Beat Air Pollution’; a call to action to combat this pressing environmental catastrophe.
Chosen by this year’s host, China, this year’s theme invites us all to consider how we can adapt our daily lives to reduce the amount of air pollution we produce, and impede its contribution to global warming and its effects on our own health.
Which country is hosting World Environment Day?
It’s China’s turn to host this year’s World Environment Day.
How can you get involved?
With nine out of ten people breathing in polluted air, the United Nations are inviting people to join the #MaskChallenge, to show our leaders we want to breathe clean air. It’s pretty simple: all you have to do is take a selfie with a mask (this could be a scarf or even your jumper pulled up over your mouth) and share it to social media, listing the action you’ll take to reduce air pollution.
Use the hashtags #WorldEnvironmentDay and #BeatAirPollution, and tag 3 people or organisations in your post to pass the message forward, including @UNEnvironment.
If you’re still undecided about what action you’re going to take to #BeatAirPollution, the UN has suggested some helpful ideas:
-Use public transport or car sharing, cycle or walk.
-Switch to a hybrid or electric vehicle and request electric taxis.
-Turn off the car engine when stationary.
-Reduce your consumption of meat and dairy to help cut methane emissions.
-Compost organic food items and recycle non-organic trash.
-Switch to high-efficiency home heating systems and equipment.
-Save energy: turn off lights and electronics when not in use.
-Never burn trash, as this contributes directly to air pollution.
-Choose non-toxic paints and furnishings.
The campaign also encourages people to pledge to action a change that will help beat air pollution in your area, whether that be walking instead of driving or switching to a smart electricity meter.
With an increasing number of articles celebrating the latest innovations in material development within the apparel industry – which is undeniably fantastic -, it is understandably overwhelming to get your head around all of this information. Even more so, how do you go about distinguishing what makes a fibre ‘good’ or ‘bad’?
The main challenge being that when assessing and comparing the sustainability performance of fibres in general, the concept of sustainability has no global common definition. So how do we work this out?
In fact, a new two-part report by Mistra Future Fashion has sifted through the data on the environmental impact of fibres and claims that fibre content isn’t the be-all and end-all of sustainability.
Mistra Future Fashion is a research program focusing on circular economy aiming at a future positive fashion industry, funded by Mistra, The Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research, and coordinated by RISE Research Institutes of Sweden. The program holds a unique system perspective operating cross-disciplinary in a consortium with over 60 partners.
The report argues that contrary to conventional wisdom, a T-shirt made from organic or recycled cotton may not even be the most eco-friendly option since they argue there are a number of factors to consider.
Image courtesy: woolme.com
For the first time ever, the report compiled all currently publicly available data on the environmental impact of fibre production. By doing this, the findings illuminate two things: 1) There is a glaring lack of data on the environmental impact of fibres – for several fibres just a few studies were found, and often only one or a few environmental impacts are covered. For new fibres associated with sustainability claims, there is often no data available to support such claims; and 2) There are no ”sustainable” or ”unsustainable” fibre types, it is the suppliers that differ. The span within each fibre type (different suppliers) is often too large, in relation to differences between fibre types, to draw strong conclusions about differences between fibre types.
“The data suggests the common separation into “good” and “bad” fibers, based on generic classifi- cations of fibre types, is too simplified”
Beyond this, it is essential to use the life-cycle perspective when comparing, promoting or selecting (e.g. by designers or buyers) fibres. To achieve best environmental practice, apart from considering the impact of fibre production, one must consider the functional properties of a fibre and how it fits into an environmentally appropriate product life-cycle, including the entire production chain, the use phase and the end-of-life management. Selecting the right fibre for the right application is key for optimising the environmental performance of the product life cycle.
The intended purpose of the report is to be used as a map over data gaps in relation to supporting claims on the environmental preferability of certain fibres over others, as well as a basis for screening fibre alternatives, for example by designers and buyers. However, for the latter, a comprehensive understanding of the environmental consequences of the choice of fibre would require a full cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment.
Of course, it goes without saying, the environmental impact of fibres depends not only on the fibre type but also on where and how the fibres are manufactured. The context in terms of scale, geography, energy sources, chemical suppliers and waste management can have a dramatic impact, as will the final use of the fibres in different types of garments and the possibilities for reuse and recycling at end-of-life.
There is certainly a glaring lack of data on the environmental impact of fibres – in several instances, just a few studies were found, and often only one or a few environmental impacts are covered. For example, climate change and water use are relatively well-studied, whereas toxicity and eutrophication (the enrichment of an ecosystem with man-made chemical nutrients) are scarcely studied. This means that there is huge potential for improving the knowledge about the environmental impact of textile fibres, both in terms of the number of fibres studied and in terms of a more comprehensive set of impact categories.
The report concluded that:
1. First – even more so than for conventional fibres – data is often lacking for “new sustainable fibres” – producers and brands are (understandable) restrictive in disclosing data until large commercial scale has been realised, and even at that time data is scarce.
2. Secondly, there is no reason to restrict a study to “new” fibres. Established fibres produced in new and better ways, or traditional fibres long undervalued, maybe the sustainability winners of tomorrow.
3. Thirdly, there are great variations within each fibre type (as turned out to be consistent with later findings of the report): viscose produced with nearly closed chemical loops and renewable energy can be among the best alternatives, while viscose produced with irresponsible chemical management and coal power can be among the worst.
So, to take a step back from the research, what does that mean for us? Fundamentally, there is a need to question overly general claims about the environmental sustainability of textile fibres, and increasingly to consider the circumstances of individual producers/brands and how a specific use of a fibre influences its environmental performance. Think first, buy second.
Glossier Play In Trouble With Non-Biodegradable Glitter
Back in February, cult beauty brand Glossier began teasing the beauty industry and its legion of Instagram followers with its latest product release and last month it finally unveiled the much-anticipated Glossier Play. However, the release of the collection designed to promote self-expression, creativity and play, was in fact met with sighs heard across the internet.
While some customers slated the brand on Twitter for not being inclusive enough in their swatching, others were shocked by the inclusion of non-biodegradable glitter. As one of the most hyped products from the new line, Glossier Play Glitter Gelée is not advised to be washed off, but rather wiped away with their Milky Oil.
One commenter wrote: “Y’all couldn’t have at least sourced biodegradable glitter for the Glitter Gelée? That’s a pretty careless/irresponsible move. It’s 2019 ffs.”
Two years in the making, Glossier Play incorporates four products, 28 shades and two tools. Surely inclusivity and sustainability could’ve played a bigger role.
Image courtesy: Glossier Play Glitter Gelée
On top of that, the packaging features more plastic than we’d hope to see from a new brand. This comes amidst a global anti-plastic movement, with glitter increasingly becoming a subject of debate in makeup circles as well. Biodegradable options definitely exist, so for a brand that is so big on peer reviews and consumer driven content, the glitzy use of non-biodegradable glitter just feels tone deaf.
In a statement to COOLS, Glossier confirmed that the “the paillette in Glitter Gelee are not biodegradable.”
With other brands like Eco Glitter Fun delivering biodegradable and compostable glitter makeup, it leaves Glossier looking out of touch with its millennial fans. This is hopefully a lesson for the future and will encourage the brand to move towards investing in the development of clean beauty products.
How Keen Are You To Rent Instead of Buying Clothes?
Times are changing and with a greater focus on the circular economy in order to reduce the waste modern society generates, the idea of reusing and repurposing products is gaining momentum, particularly ‘no ownership’ in terms of clothing.
Whether you call it borrowing, leasing or renting, the idea of not having to own the clothing you wear has come a long way. Sure, historically it’s not really been an option beyond renting a tuxedo or a designer dress, but these services are becoming as natural as tapping for an Uber and the focus is on everyday wear as well, instead of only reserved for special occasions.
From YCloset in Asia to Rent The Runway in the US and Girl Meets Dress in the UK, as well as offering one-off rentals, they now offer customers subscription packages that allow them to have several garments at a time for a flat monthly fee.
There’s no denying these services are targeting the fast-fashion daily wear market, as the pieces on these sites tend to be of higher quality, designer items that are less trend driven. In fact, Rent the Runway’s CEO and co-founder Jennifer Hyman has been explicit about her ambition to “put H&M and Zara out of business”.
We are starting to see a shift towards people embracing the idea that you don’t need to own every piece of clothing.
Is fashion rental about to go mainstream and are you on board? If it means disrupting the current trend towards ever more disposable fashion and help reduce the environmental impact of one of the most resource intensive industries, we’re all aboard!
Image courtesy: Racked | Rent The Runway Warehouse
That being said, there will always be those who really like new stuff, and the desire to buy and own clothes is a natural draw. They’ve most likely happily embraced other parts of the sharing economy and can do their part by investing in sustainable and ethical fashion labels instead.
Of course it’s our love of buying new stuff that’s made fashion one of the most environmentally damaging industries, but we can mitigate this by supporting fashion brands that are shifting towards more circular process of resource use, reducing waste, and reusing resources more.
We’ve also got to move away from the Instagram trend of wear once and throw away to landfill or dump in the back of your wardrobe. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has calculated that if you’re able to double the number of times you wear a garment, you decrease its environmental footprint by 44%.
Plus, as clothing rental companies make bigger profits the more times they can rent out a garment, a shift to renting also implies a shift to clothing that is better made and longer wearing – another step towards a more sustainable fashion industry and hopefully contribute to a change in the way we consume clothes.
Levi’s Wellthread x Outerknown Introduce Cottonized Hemp Denim
Levi’s, the iconic denim apparel label that is soon to go public again, is teaming up with men’s lifestyle label Outerknown that features groundbreaking cottonized hemp.
The heritage San Francisco-based brand recently announced that it is introducing a new form of “cottonized hemp” denim in Spring 2019 in the form of a Levi’s Wellthread x Outerknown collaboration.
The menswear collection rooted in sustainability and driven by design is set to include jeans and a trucker jacket made with 70% cotton and 30% hemp, that it says has been altered to feel just like cotton. The hemp was sourced from a rain-fed hemp crop and thereby reduced the water used in fibre cultivation by roughly 30%.
Image courtesy: Levi’s x Outerknown
Image courtesy: Levi’s x Outerknown
Celebrating the environmental benefits of hemp, Levi’s says it plans to use the fibre in more garments in the near future. Hemp requires less water and land in the growing phase and has roughly half the carbon footprint of conventionally grown cotton.
Levi’s Wellthread approach is also focused on the creation of products from a single fibre-cotton. Made of 100% cotton, the fabric, thread, pocketing, and labels are all designed for recyclability and with easily removable metal trims, with a future state of closed loop recycling in mind.
Up until now, the rough texture of hemp has prevented it from being widely adopted in the apparel industry. However, Levi’s is committed to overcoming that obstacle by employing “a process developed by fibre technology specialists that softens the hemp, giving it a look and feel that is almost indistinguishable from cotton.”
“We know hemp is good for the environment, but it has always felt coarse,” said Paul Dillinger, vice president of product innovation at Levi’s. “This is the first time we’ve been able to offer consumers a cottonized hemp product that feels just as good, if not better, than cotton.”
Image courtesy: Levi’s x Outerknown
In fact, interest is building around the potential of hemp as a more sustainable cotton alternative. At the end of 2018, a farm bill was signed into law that legalised the growth of hemp in the United States. Analysts predict that the hemp market, currently valued at around $1 billion, will be worth $20 billion by 2022.
The partnership between Levi’s Wellthread and Outerknown, the sustainable clothing company founded by professional surfer Kelly Slater, is in its fourth season. Previous collaborations focused on jeans made with Levi’s water-conserving Water < Less fabric and recyclable trims.
The Spring 2019 line will also include a T-shirt made from recycled jeans, a western shirt made with a cotton and hemp blend, and a fully recyclable nylon board short, of which all the materials used, from fabric to eyelets and stitching, are made from nylon.
All garments in the collection were crafted in facilities that participate in Levi Strauss & Co.’s Worker Well Being initiative, which offers workers health and planning advice, along with financial education programs.
British lawmakers are considering a radical new plan to encourage clothing recycling and reduce waste: a ‘fast fashion’ tax.
A new report from the U.K. Parliament is urging a tax to fund a recycling program.
The report presented by the U.K.’s parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee is recommending that Britain should charge producers a penny-per-garment fee to fund a £35 million ($45 million) per year national clothing recycling program.
Less than 1% of clothing in the U.K. is recycled today, according to the report, which also examined the wider impact of the fashion industry and so-called “fast fashion.”
Image courtesy: Shutterstock
“A million tons of textiles a year are being thrown away and we need to bend the curve of consumption. We are urging consumers to buy less, to repair and reuse more before they recycle as well,” Mary Creagh, the chairwoman of the committee, told Sky News.
Only last year, environmental groups criticised Burberry for burning almost $40 million worth of unsold product to preserve the exclusivity of the luxury brand. Global clothing production and transport—not to mention the burning of garments—contribute about as much to carbon emissions as does the aviation industry, the BBC reports.
The parliamentary report also attacked labour standards in the fashion supply chain.
“We are also concerned about the use of child labour, prison labour, forced labour and bonded labour in factories and the garment supply chain,” lawmakers wrote.
Image courtesy: Burberry criticised for incinerating unsold products | Burberry
Labour abuses occur not just among major producers of raw products, such as cotton farms in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, but astonishingly in clothing factories in the U.K., where lawmakers write they have reports of underpaid and illegal workers.
In addition to the penny-per-garment fee and other suggested incentives to promote recycling, the report called for tightening supply chain transparency rules to make it easier for consumers to understand who made their clothing and under what conditions.
What’s more, the report also calls for a ban on incinerating and landfilling unsold stock. And about time, too!
Veja’s New Vegan Leather Sneakers Made From Corn Waste
Veja’s new “Campo” sneakers drop is making big waves and not because of some random celebrity endorsement. Rather it’s down to the conscious footwear label’s choice of a new type of raw material: ‘corn waste’ based material C.W.L.
The shoe’s upper fabric is made with vegan ‘leather’ produced from canvas and corn—and Veja says it’s the first time the material has ever been used in this way.
In response to the increasing demand for cruelty-free leather alternatives, the brand have released the new vegan sneaker range. The Campo sneaker is the result of a 5-year project with the purpose of researching and developing an ecological substitute for real leather. What the brand finally found was this bio-sourced material developed by an Italian company, made from a waxed cotton canvas consisting of 50% corn waste from the food industry, making it a 63% biodegradable fabric.
The shoes are said to look and feel just like animal-based leather. Available in six different colours, the sneakers have a thicker sole than the previous range.
Following the success of its first collection of vegan sneakers, the footwear manufacturer now has 20 models which contain zero animal products – the company also avoids using any hazardous chemicals.
The company’s name, Veja, translates to “look” – with a hidden meaning that consumers should look beyond the sneakers and focus on how they were made.
Co-founder of Veja Sébastian Kopp, who has been searching for sustainable and eco-friendly materials since the company started in 2005, told Luna Journal that the shoes have a “long service life.” He added that they are waterproof, resistant, and “less rigid and more comfortable than leather.”
Business firm Grand View Research predicted in 2017 that the global faux leather market will hit $85 billion by 2025 as consumers shift toward animal-free products.
“Animal rights laws in several countries have become a major hurdle for natural leather manufacturers,”the report reads. “Growing awareness among consumers regarding animal killings” has also played a major role in the upped demand for cruelty-free materials.
Already offering a range of vegan shoes made from eco-conscious materials like organic cotton, vegan suede and nubuck, recycled jute, and recycled polyester, this new leather imitation has the potential to challenge not only these, but perhaps even the signature genuine leather styles in the collection.
We’ve all done it. You see something you like but you’re not 100% sure about the colour or fit. So you intentionally buy the same item in several different shades and a couple of different sizes because you don’t know what you really want. You over-order, try things on at home (or at work) and send what doesn’t work back. That’s okay though, since it’s free shipping and free returns, you’re covered and no harm done, right? Wrong.
Back in July of this year, Aparna Mehta, a Global Supply Chain Innovations expert at UPS who works with big retail companies to develop innovative and profitable solutions that enhance customer experiences (and the bottom line), delivered an enlightening Ted Talk where she discussed how she too used to operate in this way, constantly buying and returning, until one day she asked herself: Where do all these returned clothes go?
As Aparna revealed, the unseen world of “free” online fashion returns is not as clear-cut as one would like to believe. In fact, instead of ending up back on the shelf, many returns are actually sent to landfills.
To be specific, it’s now more like five billion pounds of returned clothing ends up in landfills every year. Mind-boggling and as Aparna highlights, it is the equivalent of every resident in the U.S. doing a load of laundry last night and then deciding to throw it in the trash today.
How did this happen?
Initially, it was thought that by offering free online returns it would drive customers to spend more, thus more and more companies began offering free returns to drive more sales, while providing a better user experience. But they didn’t realise that the upshot to this would be an increase in more items being returned as well, which as a result now accounts for millions of dollars worth of losses in sales. (In 2017, in the U.S. companies lost $351 billion in sales alone).
Free shipping and returns have made it so easy to buy, try, return, and then buy again. However, the reality of this is that only close to half of all returned merchandise can be resold, with the rest distributed to a variety of locations, according to Optoro, a reverse logistics company. But of all that, 5 billion pounds goes directly into the garbage.
Image courtesy: simplerecycling.com
For retailers to recoup these losses, they employ multiple tactics: including trying to place the item back online to be resold, try to sell to a discount partner or even to a liquidator. But if none of these options work and companies cannot find a place for the item quickly and economically, it is sent to the trash.
What might seem like an innocent click and collect and return, can in reality end up contributing to an enormous cycle of waste and environmental destruction.
What’s the solution? After learning of this, Aparna began strategising solutions in order for companies to innovative in order to reduce such blatant waste. While this is positive and hopefully will become incorporated into global retailers online returns models, it by no means will be a quick fix.
Nevertheless, as Aparna also notes, we as shoppers can actually act now. All it takes is making a few small changes to our shopping habits by taking the extra time to research and think about our purchases: Do we really need this dress? Do we really want this top? Think about this before filling your shopping carts and making your next online purchase. This would dramatically reduce the online returns rate and keep millions of pounds of clothing out of landfills. It’s that simple.
If you approach online shopping in the right way, the returns scenario is easy to avoid. As well as taking the time to consider whether you really want that specific item, sizing also plays a part. It’s easy to ignore the small Size & Fit tab below the product description on most sites, but there’s a lot you can learn from it. Not only is there information about whether or not the item runs true to size, but there is usually detailed information on how it’s cut everywhere from the bust to the waist and hips. If you know your measurements, this is great, but even if you don’t, compare the information to an item already in your wardrobe.
Also, think about how the item has been presented to you. While some sites are particularly good at nailing the styling, you should only use it to inspire an outfit once you’ve decided you like the item on its own. Meaning you should consider how the piece looks separate from the way it’s styled. Be sure to read the product description to discern whether or not styled items such as a belt or camisole are included, since they can really make a difference.
Similarly, pay attention to the fabric. Compare it to something you already own. One of the most important things about clothing is the fabric and often when you like an item that you have, it’s because you like the material. Even if you’re not a fabric expert, you can use this to inform decisions about other pieces, and hopefully reduce the likelihood of wanting to return your online purchase.
Let’s face it, this is not some far away problem. It’s happening right now and the good news is that we can all play a part in solving it. So the next time you go to utter the words or hear someone else use the phrase “you can always return it” when buying a gift or planning their party outfit, think again.
The go-to brand for California cool-girl style points, Reformation is part of a burgeoning group of fashion-forward ethical brands that has managed to strike the right balance between offering truly desirable sustainable fashion choices for all occasions (yep, their bridal collection is seriously good), while packaging their eco-friendly message in a way that doesn’t turn you off as if on the receiving end of a lecture.
Having been on the scene for a while now, early on the brand recognised the need to be more mindful of its environmental and social footprint, choosing then to focus its creative attention on producing pieces that could as easily appeal to the style-driven fashion pack as to conscious consumers, who for too long felt like they had to compromise style for ethics.
Image courtesy: Reformation
Fast-forward to 2018, and Reformation is not only succeeding at delivering covetable pieces but their solid commitment to environmental and social initiatives is communicated in such a way that it doesn’t require a Phd or deep dive into sustainability practices. It might seem easily done but here’s the thing, it’s not. Perhaps one of the reasons so many brands shy away from such transparency with consumers is knowing how much to share and how best to go about it.
There is, of course, a balancing act required. Too much information and you risk the reader switching off. Too little and it seems like you’re hiding something. Smaller, independent labels offer a certain level of transparency in their own way, but it often takes a bit of digging. And, this is where Reformation is able to stand out.
Image courtesy: Reformation
The way in which they’re able to deliver the reporting of their environmental footprint, known as the RefScale, in an engaging, top-line format removes any danger of it becoming dry or unreadable, which is no small victory when discussing the pounds of carbon dioxide emitted, the gallons of water used, or the pounds of waste generated. Likewise, when sharing details on their supply chains.
In fact, the brand adheres to its own set of fibre standards that are categorised into five sections—as shown in the table below—since up to two-thirds of fashions sustainability impact happens at the raw materials stage. By the end of 2018, they are committed to making 75% of their products with A and B fibres (the first two categories).
Image courtesy: Reformation
Normally a snooze-fest you’d do anything to avoid reading, the label’s ‘hey girl’, best friend tone of voice has you hooked in, and you’ll find you’ve read it from start to finish before you even know it.
As we see it, the best way to get people engaged with this sort of information is to imagine you’re talking to your friends. Don’t treat them like idiots. Equally, don’t skirt around the facts. Lay it to them straight, while taking care to package it well. After all, don’t we all want to know we’re doing good while able to look good?