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Top 7 Best Use of Ecological Sustainability

The sustainable fashion community is host to a number of companies that do some great work trying to make the industry a more honest and socially responsible place. The retraced editorial team wanted to share some of our favorite examples with you! 😃

"Best in Class"is a new blog series where we highlight some exemplary examples of companies implementing a variety of transparency and sustainability initiatives. This week, we're diving into the sub-topic Ecological Sustainability. Fashion has a huge impact on the surrounding environment - from the growing and producing of raw materials, to the treatment of the fabrics as they get manufactured into the finished goods. The water usage, CO2 emissions, chemicals usages, and waste management associated with the making of fashion items are just a few of the important factors to consider. In this post, we highlight a few of our favorite brands (in no particular order) that take some pretty innovative approaches to being pro-planet.

1. Boyish Jeans

The certified carbon neutral brand, Boyish Jeans, from Los Angeles, brings a Wild, Wild West, take no prisoners, planet-friendly-or-nothing attitude to eco-conscious fashion. Much of this approach starts with their dedicated use of recyclables in all of their product components - from the denim fabrics to the trimmings (tags, labels, buttons, plant-based shipping bags). Boyish is also proactive in joining forces with other changemakers in the industry, and they are part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Jeans Redesign project to ensure that their products are made with recyclable, traceable materials, and minimal pollution. The brand also prides itself on working with only fully certified suppliers - but they don't stop there. They also work with their factories to use specific energy-efficient machinery, safe chemical washing, and simple supply chains to reduce emissions and chemical usage. The brand's meticulous efforts have resulted in a positive-impact, fan-favorite denim that is certifiably stylish, and unapologetically sustainable.

image from Boyish

2. Good Krama

Good Krama ensures that their eco-friendly ethos is present in every manufacturing decision. The brand takes care to ensure that their water usage, CO2 emissions, and waste output are kept as low as possible. For example, Good Krama's woven fabric is produced in a rural part of Cambodia, only during daylight hours, meaning that no electricity is used. All other non-woven fabrics are upcycled from surplus materials left over from other textile productions, enabling them to reduce the CO2 footprint that comes from manufacturing new fabrics. The brand took a similar approach when monitoring and measuring their water usage during the growing and processing stages of their fibers, as well as the final garment production. Thanks to some nifty graphics from Green Story, Good Krama consumers can learn more about the eco-impact of the brand's products.

GreenStory LCA analysis on Good Krama's website

3. Pangaia

Pangaia uses bio-based fibers (such as seaweed fiber, recycled materials, and botanical dyes to create eye-catching essentials. In doing so, the brand is able to keep their carbon emissions impact very low, while finding innovative new uses for old cotton, and ensuring that the water run-off from the dyeing process is not harmful to the environment. Pangaia even created its own fully biodegradable fabric - FLWRDWNâ„¢ which is made from natural wildflowers and biopolymer. The brand also created a special type of antibacterial peppermint oil which they add to their garments, keeping them fresher for longer, and therefore needing fewer washes. Throw in their use of compostable packaging, and you are looking at an earth-friendly company that is eager to eco-innovate at every turn.

image from Pangaia

4. Swedish Stockings

The traditional hosiery industry relies on an environmentally harmful petroleum-based manufacturing process that leads to damaging carbon emissions and products that aren't made to last. Swedish Stockingswants to change the game. This Swedish brand (surprise, surprise ;)) creates pantyhose from both pre- and post-consumer nylon waste. It is also incredibly mindful of its manufacturing, as the production is powered by renewable energy sources, the water used in the dyeing process is purified after use, and its factories are zero-waste. Swedish Stockings also has a recycling program that, estimated by the brand, has repurposed thousands of stockings.

image from Swedish Stockings

5. MUD Jeans

As one of the best in business of sustainability, MUD Jeans is geared towards the circular economy. To create a world without waste, the Dutch company takes a circular approach with every part of its operations. This is translated in their groundbreaking"Lease a Jeans concept", which rethinks ownership and enables customers to wear its garments on a subscription basis. MUD Jeans is also working internally to be as sustainable as possible. The brand's take-back scheme and recycle factory Recovertex in Spain saves jeans from landfill and incineration. Up until 2019, the brand has saved 20,000 discarded jeans and turned them into new denim. The eco-friendly brand has replaced toxic chemicals with innovative laser, ozone, and E-flow techniques, and has launched its first collection with mineral dyed denim. Their Ecochain Life Cycle Assessment showed that the brand emits 69% less CO2 than the industry standard for a pair of jeans due to their renewable energy-powered factories. The carbon-neutral brand offsets the rest of its emission, as you can read in their full Bluedot report. The company's dream for the future is to sell 100% recycled denim and close its loop entirely.

Image from MUD Jeans

6. Airpaq

The Cologne-based company takes on a unique twist to upcycling in fashion, by turning car waste into backpacks and accessories. By following a holistic method they call "reinCARnation", the brand collects leftover airbags, seatbelts, and buckles from German scrapyards, and creates new, stylish, and durable products. What started as a school project, quickly switched gears into a budding business. (Check out their kickstart video for an in-depth look at how the bags are made) Germany is famous for its massive automotive industry, and finding ways to address the resulting waste products, is an important topic. Airpaq's concept of turning would-be-waste into functional fashion highlights a particularly creative approach to eco-friendly sustainability.

image from Airpaq

7. United by Blue

United by Blue's bold ecological efforts starts from the source - the materials. The company uses a laundry list of sustainably created and sourced materials - from their exclusive (R)evolutionâ„¢ collection backpacks which gives plastic water bottles a second life, to their customer yak fiber + cotton + hemp + cotton blend, AllDay Chambrayâ„¢, and countless of other materials in between. The B-Corp certified brand has specifically made plastic its number one enemy. Not only have they committed to removing one pound of trash from the ocean (a majority of which is plastic waste), but for every product purchased, they are also quitting their addiction to single plastic entirely. In June 2019, after making the bold confession: "We are addicted to plastic" the company rolled out a plan to eliminate the most common single-use plastic materials from their operations, including bubble wrap sleeves. poly bags, shrink wrap, and even plastic tape. Kicking the plastic addiction has never looked more fashionable.

Woman standing in the wilderness overlooking a lake

image from United Blue

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