Material Exchange is delighted to drive deep change in sustainable sourcing: we’re about to launch the first nine of our Sustainability Stamps! These stamps will quickly convey the social and environmental certifications and practices a facility has in place to help brands meet sustainable sourcing, carbon reduction, and preferred fiber goals. The Sustainability Stamps will be live in a week, so check them out and let us know what you think!
When it comes to fashion, circularity is about maintaining the life of an article of clothing for as long as it holds its maximum value before using it to create something else. So, instead of consuming natural resources to create new apparel faster than the planet can replenish those resources, in circularity, we try to keep apparel in use.
Material Exchange partner, Textile Exchange, released their annual info-packed Material Change Insights Report this week. The report dives deep into the current state of global textile sourcing. It’s exciting to read that based on 292 companies reporting, the findings include an increase in the use of preferred cotton and recycled polyester fibers, while greenhouse gas emissions from the sector have decreased… thanks to the use of all those recycled fibers! There’s certainly more work to do and so much more to read, so peruse the full report below!
Digitization, responsible sourcing, and radical transformation are our mission here at Material Exchange. But what is responsible sourcing and how can you achieve it?
That’s the focus of this new Sustainable Sourcing Strategies Explained section of our Sustainability Scoop! Each edition digs in to sustainable strategies to help move the industry toward positive change. This is urgent work because 80% of a fashion garment’s impact is decided in the design and sourcing stages. Here are the first three strategies!
Why it’s important: The past ten years have been the hottest on record. And based on NOAA’s 2022 Monthly Climate Report, this year’s on track to be in the top ten, too. Rising global temperatures and extreme heat in India, Pakistan, New Zealand, and more continue to warm our atmosphere, where emitted CO2 gets trapped and bakes the planet. Removing carbon and decreasing emissions are actions all fashion allies must commit to, so that we don’t endanger meeting the needs of future generations.
What it means: Minimizing carbon emissions in your design work, material choices, production processes, and transportation.
How to achieve it: Commit to phasing out synthetic materials derived from fossil-fuels. Source digitally and request fewer physical samples. Produce in facilities with energy-efficient lighting, heating, and cooling. Reuse materials, which is less energy-intensive than extracting new resources. Source bio-alternative materials. Optimize your supply chain to be less reliant on fossil fuels. And consolidate your shipments.
Which materials get you there: Bio-based fibers and components. These have lower carbon footprints because they emit less CO2 into the atmosphere and keep their carbon sequestered.
Who has them: Evoco does! Evoco is a next-gen material firm manufacturing bio-based Fates eco-foam. It’s made from up to 80% plants and is an alternative to petroleum-based foams. Fates eco-foam reduces material carbon emissions by 70% compared to traditional polyurethane (PU) foam and is USDA Biopreferred, Greencircle, and Vegan certified. Evoco is developing a plant-based leather alternative, too! And their responsible bio-alternatives also extend to production with the use of water in place of toxic blowing agents. Spring forward into a low-carbon future with Evoco!
Why it’s important: Over 50% of textiles are man-made synthetics derived from petrochemicals. 95% of textiles, trims, garments, and footwear styles are treated, dyed, finished, and processed with chemicals harmful to the health of humans and all other living beings. The most-common chemicals in fashion – including Azo-dyes, chromium, formaldehyde, and perfluorocarbons – are proven to cause cancer, infertility, and birth defects and should be nowhere near our bodies, nor the bodies of workers making materials and products.
What it means: Cutting out hazardous chemicals by sourcing healthy materials and products that are safe and do not poison water, air, soil, or any life on the planet.
How to achieve it: Reduce, then eliminate toxic substances in the materials you use. When sourcing, specify materials with as low environmental impacts as possible. Ask for materials with no polymers, formaldehyde, lead, Azo, PVC, PFC, or BPA. Look for green chemistry materials and facilities. Choose veggie-tanned leathers and natural dyes. Cut back on waste which persists in the natural environment.
Which materials get you there: Organic and natural fiber; reused and recycled fiber; fabrics and trims; and BlueSign, GOTS, OEKO-TEX, and ZDHC certified materials.
Who has them: KenDor does! KenDor is a fabric supplier offering low-minimum organic and OEKO-TEX 100-certified textiles. KenDor committed to sustainability 30 years ago, back when responsible fabrics were 40% pricier than conventional options. KenDor uses low-impact, fiber-reactive dyes, free from AZO and heavy metals. Not only is their dyeing detoxified, but their dye processes require less water and energy. Sustainable fabrics account for more than 70% of their global sales and their collection extends beyond organics to include recycled fibers, Tencels, and Ecovero-certified fabrics, too!
Why it’s important: The more materials used to create a pair of jeans or shoes means the more inputs in terms of natural resources, energy, and fuel. It also means more outputs, such as waste, emissions, and pollution. Therefore, the fewer materials and energy going into a product, the less environmental impact we cause.
What it means: Reducing the amount of raw materials used, components required, and natural resources consumed.
How to achieve it: Decrease the total amount of materials needed to create a style. Select mono-fiber yarn and fabrics. Reduce finished product dimensions. Source recycled metals and plastics. Choose deadstock fabrics and trims. Use post-production and post-consumer materials to replace virgin materials or create patched or felted fabric. Pick materials that are byproducts of other industries. And minimize packaging.
Which materials get you there: Byproducts of other industries are beneficial because they’re saved from the waste stream and are used as alternatives to virgin materials.
Who has them: Sea Leather Wear does! Sea Leather Wear is an in-stock supplier specializing in fish leather made from non-endangered species. According to Forbes, 1 to 2.7 trillion fish are caught each year for human consumption. Not all parts of these fish make it to the dinner table; Sea Leather Wear utilizes otherwise squandered skins of fish caught as food as a natural leather alternative. Each order comes with a certificate of origin detailing where the fish came from, its species, and where it was tanned, which works toward traceability goals and can be included in verification claims.
Check out Evoco, KenDor Textiles, Sea Leather Wear and more on Material Exchange!