Archive for March, 2011

Big Name Apparel Brands Join Forces

A group of over 30 leading apparel retailers and brands together with a selection of suppliers, academics and NGO’s have today launched the Sustainable Apparel Coalition which aims to share work, research and use an industry-wide index to reduce the environmental and social impact of textiles and clothing.

In March 2011, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition announced plans to create a database that will track the environmental impact and fair labor practices for clothing and footwear production, with the goal to create a universal index for sustainability practices within the apparel industry.  This index will set a standard for the manufacturing methods of major apparel companies, taking into account factors such as energy usage, fair labor practices, waste removal methods and water quality.  All of the members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition have agreed to support the collection of this data and made a commitment to work toward more sustainable practices.  Eventually, the Coalition hopes to use this index to create a consumer label that can be placed on individual products to inform consumers about the apparel’s sustainability rating.

Consumers should not expect to see sustainability labels on clothing any time soon.  The supply chain for apparel is complicated and this is the first large-scale sustainability effort for the apparel industry.  First, the data must be collected.  Second, standards that support both sustainability and realistic business practices must be negotiated.  Third, companies associated with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition must implement those standards.  After those steps have been taken, then perhaps the idea of placing a sustainability rating on clothing and footwear labels will become a reality.  The Sustainable Apparel Coalition has not yet released a time-line for later stages of this process, including the creation of a consumer label.  The first draft of the Sustainable Apparel Index for companies and suppliers is expected to be complete by April 2011.

Current members of the Coalition include Adidas, Espirit, Gap Inc, Levi Strauss & Co., Nike, Patagonia, REI, Target, Walmart and other for-profit corporations, as well as research organizations such as Duke University, Environmental Defense Fund and Outdoor Industry Association and supply chain managers such as Li & Fung.  Membership in the Sustainable Apparel Coalition is completely voluntary, and is currently by invitation-only.  The Coalition expects to expand from 33 to 40 members by June 2011 and may repeal the invitation-only membership policy in 2012, once the beginning stages of their sustainability index effort are complete.

10/03/2011 at 6:30 am Leave a comment

NAT CEO to Speak at Expo West

Our CEO, Ken Barker, will be speaking at Expo West on Thursday, March 10th.  The topic of discussion: Policies and Technologies in Organic Textiles.  Organic textiles are easier to find than ever, due in large part to new technologies for processing organic fibres, yet manufacturers and retailers still find challenges with sourcing.  Learn how some companies are overcoming these challenges, how organic textile standards differ from USDA standards for organic food, and what directions organic textiles could go in the future.

Expo West is the world’s largest natural, organic and healthy products trade show.  With over 3000 exhibitors and 50,000+ attendees as well as educational forums and discussion panels with industry leading experts, this is a show you won’t want to miss!

09/03/2011 at 1:43 pm Leave a comment

Cleantech Forum – From Data to Impact

Since 2002, the Cleantech Group has brought together numerous premier events for entrepreneurs, investors, enterprise CEOs, policy-makers and other global forerunners of the clean technology sector.

They will be holding their annual flagship West Coast Cleantech Forum in San Francisco from March 14th to 16th.  The region’s most important cleantech event of the year will be covering the innovations in information technology that are providing deeper insights into cleantech ROI and impact – and how the ability to measure and analyze performance will allow us to take cleantech to scale around the world.

The convergence of cleantech and information technology is ushering in a truly new era in clean technology, enabling faster global deployments, greater scale, and more precise measurement of impact than ever before.  Now, across all major sectors of the clean technology economy, the ability to collect, communicate, and analyze vast new streams of data is opening up opportunities for new technologies to come to market faster than ever before and offering decision makers more accurate, transparent insight into the effectiveness of cleantech deployments.  Energy, water, transportation, waste, and agriculture, are all being reshaped by information technology solutions that are allowing for the fundamental acceleration of global cleantech adoption.

Cleantech Forum San Francisco is the only clean technology conference that will unite the world’s leading corporate executives, investors, startups, and policy makers to explore the expanding opportunities and critical challenges at the cleantech and IT nexus.

The Cleantech Forum San Francisco will you get the insights and market intelligence to build a solid strategy and meet the entrepreneurs and global partners to put your plans into practice.

08/03/2011 at 6:30 am Leave a comment

Vancouver Goes Green for Fashion Week

Canada flexed its sustainability muscle last week with a strong showing at the Vancouver Eco Fashion Week.

Now in its second season, the event featured a number of seminars, trade shows and fashion events each designed to showcase some of the latest talent in the field of environmentally friendly and socially responsible fashion design.

In 2009, Vancouver declared its aim to become the world’s greenest city within the next decade and the organizers at Eco Fashion Week are keen to use this pledge as a springboard to help propel the city to the vanguard of the eco-fashion and textile industry.

The week-long event culminated in a trade show exhibiting a range of recycled, organic and fair-trade fashions. In order to qualify for participation, designers’ work had to fall into at least one of a dozen special categories, which ranged from requiring the use of animal-free, organic, natural, recycled, or reused materials, to ensuring the manufacturing process uses resources efficiently or reduces waste.

Other categories qualify items that are locally or custom designed and constructed; vintage or second-hand; that show responsibility toward human rights or promote social causes; or those that use environmentally friendly printing and marketing.

Particularly prominent were fabrics made from SeaCell, Ingeo, milk fibre, hemp and nettles while there was also a strong presence of wool, ‘peace silk’, soy silk, and fibres made from rubber and cork.

Designers included Nicole Bridger, Prophetik, Red Jade, Peridot Kiss, Laura Presber, Elena Garcia, Lav & Kush, Nixxi, , Lara Miller and Emesha.

 

 

04/03/2011 at 9:13 am Leave a comment

Considered Design, Considers It All

A company’s journey to sustainability can be a long one….just ask Nike.  The company is a leader in environmental design, and yet it has a long way to go to reach its sustainability goals.

At least Nike knows where it’s headed.  It has a bold long term called the North Star.   A key tool is known as Considered Design, where the goal is to design products that are fully closed loop:  produced using the fewest possible materials and designed for easy disassembly, while allowing them to be recycled into new product or safely returned to nature at the end of their life.

Nike’s vision is not only bold, but well thought-out and comprehensive.  Nike’s Considered Design index rewards designers who reduce waste, solvents and energy, and employ environmentally friendly materials.

Nike isn’t designing one line of products to be sustainable or green and then leaving the rest along.  Instead, it’s applying a single set of design metrics to shoes, apparel and equipment and measuring its progress.

Considered Design is Nike’s ongoing commitment to design without compromise – either to performance or the planet.  It is a continually progressing standard, applied every day to everything they do.  By continually raising that standard, they envision a future where the shoes you wear today become the shoes, shirts or equipment you use tomorrow.  This “closed loop” manufacturing process, where nothing is wasted and everything is kept in play, is not just wishful thinking, it’s the future.

03/03/2011 at 6:30 am Leave a comment

The Cost of Building a Green Economy

Investing two percent of the world’s GDP could transition the planet from a “brown,” unsustainable economy to one that is both low-carbon and resource efficient, according to a UN report released last week.

The Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication report claims that investing $1.3 trillion each year is the magic number to create new cleantech industries, boost jobs, cut down on CO2 emissions, and increase energy efficiency savings.  But is this possible?  And if it is, what will it mean in practical terms?

“With 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day and with more than two billion people being added to the global population by 2050, it is clear that we must continue to develop and grow our economies,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, in a statement.  “But this development cannot come at the expense of the very life support systems on land, in the oceans or in our atmosphere that sustain our economies, and thus, the lives of each and everyone of us.”

In the UN’s green economy scenario, a global investment of 2% GDP in agriculture, buildings, energy, fisheries, forests, manufacturing, tourism, transport, water and waste management will stabilize global energy requirements at current levels by 2050 (40% less than the business as usual scenario), cut CO2 emissions by a third, increase global crop yield by 10%, and cut water demand by a fifth.

Under this scenario, humanity treads lightly enough on the Earth to maintain some semblance of sustainability.  But convincing world powers to invest so much money in a green economy won’t be easy.  President Obama and Chinese president Hu Jintao, however, are issuing statements of support for the plan.  This isn’t surprising–the U.S. has spent $211 billion over the last five years in green sectors, and China has spent $468 billion.

Still, that isn’t enough.  But as an increasingly wacky climate combines with rising oil prices in the coming years, wealthy countries may finally realize that the greenest investments also look like the wisest.

Information Source: Ariel Schwartz of Fast Company

01/03/2011 at 6:30 am Leave a comment

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