The ugly hidden side of fashion is getting a makeover! I want to tell you about a nice eco initiative from The North Face. First, though, I have say that Patagonia is so far out in front of competitors when it comes to environmental responsibility (and so intensely focused on delivering durable, quality products) that they are always top of mind in their category. That said, it is incredibly good news to see a steady string of eco-friendly initiatives from larger players like The North Face.
A story Monday in North Carolina’s Triad Business Journal (here) reports that The North Face is greening its popular Denali jacket (here) by incorporating Repreve yarn from Unifi, made from recycled plastic bottles and fabric scraps. A few months back, North Face released a hoody made entirely from organic cotton grown within 150 miles of company headquarters and manufactured in the USA (story here). So … organic, obviously good … but local, also good. Like the local food movement, the goal is to lower our clothes’ carbon footprint by reducing shipping distances. Well played, North Face!
This is so important because the glamorous fashion industry is an on-going environmental disaster of enormous proportions. Cotton all by itself accounts for more pesticide use than any other crop worldwide – as much as 25% of all toxic pesticide use! Fabric manufacturing and dyeing are huge contributors to water pollution as well. And the “fast fashion” ethos pushes consumers – us! – to continually get rid of the clothes we already have and buy new ones, accelerating the rate at the environment suffers to put clothes on our backs.
Back to Patagonia: Patagonia’s emphasis on durability comes from a dual commitment to quality and a reduced environmental footprint. If your jeans, your jacket, your boots last longer, that in itself reduces your impact on the environment. Check Patagonia’s “Footprint Chronicles” (here) for a really enlightening look at an environmentally responsible company in action.
The news story references “growing consumer demand for environmentally friendly products.” Hey, that’s us! The apparel business is greening up in response to our changing preferences. This is how we’ll have a green impact on our world – by simply choosing to buy from responsible businesses and walk away from irresponsible ones.
They’re hearing us and responding! Let’s keep it up.
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