Material Exchange

Sustainability Scoop no 2

September 2022 | Sustainability Bulletin No.2

Happy end-of-September everyone!

We are excited to share this, our second issue of Material Exchange’s Sustainability Scoop, as we continue our work to make your sourcing life more efficient and less impactful on the planet!

This month’s features include a new section on deciphering material standards and certifications, the continuation of our monthly sourcing and design strategy deep dive, and a few take-aways from our recent learnings around circularity.

Please read, enjoy, and share with your colleagues! And, most importantly, please design, source, produce, and distribute fabric, trims, clothing, shoes, and accessories like our future world depends on it – because it truly does.

Yours in sustainability,  

The Material Exchange Sustainability Team

Circularity and sourcing explored!

Circularity and sourcing explored

ICYMI: Material Exchange recently hosted a webinar focused on circularity and sourcing with sustainability team members from brands Coach and Aday. Here are a few great thoughts shared during the event:

  • Ask your customers if they’d be interested in buying a particular product before producing it. The customer feels engaged and part of your journey. Plus, it’s a great way to prevent waste and loss from unsold merchandise.

  • Start a take-back program. They allow companies to keep materials out of landfills and also provide retailers and brands the opportunity to see how their products wear over time.

  • If you want to create a new product from a style you’ve taken back, start small. Make just a few products the first season, see what works, and make more next time. You can figure it out as you go.

Calling all sustainability-minded college students!

Material Exchange Scholarship

Material Exchange is thrilled to sponsor a new Academic College Scholarship for 2022. If you know a student, read on:

The Material Exchange Academic Scholarship is open to college and university students across the globe enrolled in textile or fashion programs who have an interest in the space technology, digitalization, sustainability, and fashion intersect.   

Click here to apply for the chance to win tuition dollars and get published on our blog! Applications close October 4th.

It's a certification celebration!

Last month, Material Exchange launched the first nine of 14 Sustainability Stamps! Sustainability Stamps help suppliers quickly convey the social and environmental certifications and practices in place at their facilities, so fashion and footwear brands can source more time-efficiently and sustainably!

The stamps are tied to the plethora of farm, textile, process, and product certifications and standards, which means that textiles and fashion professionals need to learn a huge amount of information to know what they all are. Certifications are important because they ensure that what’s said is happening is actually occurring. This new Sustainability Scoop section will simply explain several certifications each month, because sourcing is easier when you know what the certifications are!

alliance for water stewardship logo
Water Conservation

The Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) is a standard created for global farms, factories, and production facilities. AWS allows major water users to understand and reduce their impacts through good water governance, sustainable water balance, and other conservation practices. Facilities and sites are certified by Water Stewardship Assurance Services (WSAS) which provide audit, certification, surveillance, and re-certification processes for AWS. There are over 160 AWS members and the fees vary based on business type and size. Dive in and learn more here

global recycled standard
Recycled Content

The Global Recycled Standard (GRS) is a voluntary standard managed by Textile Exchange to keep track of recycled materials, reduce negative impacts of their production, trace inputs and help consumers make informed decisions when buying recycled-material products. GRS’s mission is to alleviate the impact of production on people and the planet. GRS is available to company types along the recycled-material supply chain. Third-party audits are conducted to ensure a company, product, or process meets the GRS standard. Costs vary by independent verification body, number, and location of audit sites. Delve into the GRS here

standard 100 by oeko-tex
Safe and Healthy Chemicals

OEKO-TEX is a certification body for the textile and leather industries that promotes a sustainable future, from safe chemicals to socially responsible practices. The Standard 100 certification by OEKO-TEX works toward safe chemical use by ensuring a material is free from over 100 harmful chemical substances, both regulated and non-regulated. OEKO-TEX Standard 100 is available to textile manufacturers in all stages of processing through independent OEKO-TEX test institutes. Costs vary by product and cover fees for the license, audit, and lab and administrative tests. Discover more here

rws logo
Animal Welfare

The Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) is also created by Textile Exchange and provides an industry benchmark for the use of wool fibers. RWS gives guidance on the fair treatment and wellbeing of sheep, responsible land management, and ensuring transparency through a complete chain of custody system. Similar to the Global Recycled Standard (GRS), RWS is available to all wool supply chain members and is obtained through third-party audits with costs controlled by verification bodies. Click here and “ewe” can learn more! 

Forest Stewardship

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) aims to protect the world’s forests through sustainable forest management. PEFC focuses on conserving forest biodiversity, safeguarding habitats, preventing forest conversion, respecting local customs, and strengthening the livelihoods of people residing in the forests’ regions. Forest owners, brands, retailers, and suppliers can be certified. Certification is based on independent, third-party audits throughout the chain of custody of forest-based materials and products. Dig in and find out more about PEFC here!  


The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) promotes soil health and social fairness through organic, non-GMO crops for textiles that are grown without the use of harmful pesticides. Their aim is to make organic textiles a significant part of everyday life. GOTS is available to all parts of the textile supply chain, from raw material processing to trading. Certification is obtained through a third-party-conducted annual audit and facilities can be certified for €150 each. Learn more about going organic here

Material Exchange educates: Sustainable Sourcing Strategies Explained

Material Exchange recognizes the impacts manmade textile- and apparel-producing systems have had on planet Earth and we hope that, as a global fashion-material-sourcing company, we can contribute to driving the reduction of those impacts by transforming sourcing processes so fashion is less harmful to nature’s resources.

To that end, Material Exchange continues sharing sustainable design and sourcing strategies we hope can help brands, agents, and suppliers eliminate wasteful and polluting materials and products.

For September, we focus on water conservation. In the coming editions, we’ll continue with a new strategy for each issue as we work, together with you, toward a sustainable and equitable future of fashion for all.

no water pollution icon

Sourcing for Water Efficiency

Why it’s important: Water is a precious resource. 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water; yet only 3% percent of that water is drinkable. Creating and dyeing textiles, trims, and clothing uses and pollutes 20% of the world’s water (Bailey et al, 2022), as do all the plastics we use by often ending up in rivers, seas, and oceans. To work toward an equitable and just future, we must ensure that available water on the planet is clean, drinkable, and swimmable for all.

What it means: Decreasing water inputs destined for the fibers, fabrics, and products we are creating. Sourcing drought- and heat-tolerant, plant-based fibers. Selecting recycled synthetics made from ocean- or river-bound plastic to keep the world’s water healthy. Assuring any required water for our materials and products is cleaned of harmful chemicals and loose fibers so it’s returned to waterways and soil in a safe condition for the people and life in the surrounding communities. 

How to achieve it: Ask where crops are grown and contact farms to learn their crop water management. In processing facilities, specify water recycling and inquire how waste water is managed. Inquire if waste water is filtered before being expelled in local waterways. Choose suppliers who harvest rainwater, reuse gray water, or have closed-loop water systems. Use Higg MSI or Made2 Flow to calculate virtual water embedded in selected materials and products. Once a water footprint is measured, start to reduce it!

Which materials get you there: GRS- or other-certified, recycled nylons, resins, plastics, and PET yarns for your fabrics, buttons, and zippers. Regeneratively-grown, in-transition, or African cotton; materials or facilities that are Alliance for Water Stewardship, B-Hive by Go Blue, or Bluesign certified.

Who has them: Here are two suppliers that do!   

  1. #Tide Ocean is dedicated to reducing water pollution by using ocean-bound plastics to create granules, yarn, and filament for a wide array of apparel and footwear uses. So far, these materials have prevented 30 million plastic bottles from entering the oceans. Plus, production of this material emits close to 80% less CO2 than virgin plastic and poly. Emissions are also reduced by smaller transportation impacts from their new localized hubs in North America and Europe. #Tide Ocean provides job training and pays fair wages, which helps to destigmatize garbage collecting as a career in the South East Asian communities they operate in. Dive into all of Tide Ocean’s materials here

  2. Textil Santanderina is on a mission to efficiently and sustainably produce high-quality woven fabrics in ways that innovatively conserve water and energy and bring good to people and the planet. Santanderina’s water-stewardship processes include Ecolandye Pluss for dyeing as well as their FIBERCLEAN project which uses its Iris Flow finish to eliminate impacts from industrial laundering – and has an over 65% savings in water use! Textil Santanderina is part of the European Union’s Zero Pollution program and works with brands worldwide. Ranging from cotton classics to the latest technical fiber innovations, Textil Santanderina’s extensive product line is available to view here!

Want more? Meet us at these upcoming events!

LA Textile
September 28-30
California Market Center, Los Angeles, CA

Kingpins Show
October 19-20
SugarCity, Amsterdam

Sourcing, Sustainability, & Survey Results webinar

Sourcing, Sustainability, & Survey Results: An interactive dive into sourcing today with industry experts
Tuesday, November 1
5pm CEST | 12pm EST | 9am PST

USFIAxME Impact Reduction Workshop

Material Exchange x USFIA’s all-day
Impact Reduction Certificate Workshop
Wednesday, November 9
GCNYC, New York, NY

Material Exchange