Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Q&A: Coral Rose, Founder of Eco-Innovations

Coral Rose
Founder of Eco-Innovations
Corporate Sustainability Strategy
Sustainable Textile and Solutions

CELESTE: In addition to buying vintage and used clothing, what should consumers look for when buying eco-friendly clothing?

CORAL: Look for apparel:
  • THAT IS THIRD-PARTY CERTIFIED ORGANIC:This is certification for the growing of the fiber. There are additional 'voluntary' certifications such as the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) that cover processing of the item including dyes as well as social standards.
  • AN ITEM THAT IS VERSATILE & WILL SERVE IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE: An example might be a Patagonia jacket that converts to a vest--2 jackets in one--or pants that zip-off for different lengths-shorts-capris-long-so you get 3 garments in one.
  • THAT WILL ALLOW YOU TO CONSERVE ON LAUNDERING: For cotton (conventional or organic) over 76% of the life cycle impacts happen at the consumer level. Not only do we consume a lot, we do a lot of laundry. This (76%) happens in the washing-drying-water, etc, so work on wearing outer-garments that are not soiled more than once!
CELESTE: When people throw out used clothing and shoes rather than donating them, how is this impacting our environment?

CORAL: Great question. The 2006 EPA Facts (resource EPA-United States Environmental Protection Agency: regarding MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) is as follows: In 1960, we were generating 2.7 pounds of waste per person PER DAY. In 2006, that number is 4.6 pounds of waste per person PER DAY. Note: Rubber-Leather-Textiles are lumped into the same bucket at 7.3% of the total MSW. So the impact of not 'trashing' our clothes and shoes amounts to over 7% of the municipal waste that is generated.

CELESTE: Name a few apparel companies we should keep our eyes on.

  • PATAGONIA: They are the original pioneers in organic cotton,usually setting the trends in sustainable fibers.
  • TARGET: They are just getting into this arena of sustainable textiles. It will be interesting to see where they go with products and with consumer messaging.
CELESTE: Many consumers are choosing to bring their own fabric totes with them while they shop now rather than using the stores' plastic or paper bags. When purchasing totes for this purpose, what would be your 'top pick' as far as material used to make the tote?

CORAL: Choosing one fiber as a 'top pick' is not as easy as it sounds- there are many 'tradeoffs' to consider, that occur during the life cycle of the product with most sustainable fibers.
On a personal note, I prefer Hemp, one of natures finest whole fibers. Here is a bit from my blog of why:

Hemp fiber dates back to 2800 B.C. Prior to 1880 the US economy was based on hemp. Industrial hemp was a primary source of food, fuel and fiber. It is now illegal to grow hemp in the US. Hemp grows well without the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides. Manufactures of hemp fiber claim that the fiber is biodegradable. All hemp fiber in the US is imported. China and Eastern Europe are the primary producers of hemp. Although seed for food consumption is readily available certified organic, certified organic hemp fiber is not widely available. To date,IMO certifies only one organic hemp farm in Inner Mongolia. (

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