Eddie Bauer, Disney, Nike, Patagonia, Quiksilver and Todd Oldham are the first apparel brands to join the Otis Sustainability Alliance, a partnership between the fashion industry and higher education that aims to advance environmental, social and economic sustainability. The Otis College of Art and Design launched the alliance Saturday at the Otis Scholarship Benefit and Fashion Show. Through the alliance, members will collaborate with and educate Otis faculty and students about the sustainable practices and priorities in their industry. Students will, in turn, have the training and vision to design products that “do less harm,” said Rosemary Brantley, chair of fashion design at the school. The high-profile Los Angeles-based design school already offers a sustainability minor, in which students study and develop sustainable strategies and systems in art and design. The minor, which has seen higher enrollment than any other offered at Otis, also enables students to work with companies, such as Nike/Hurley, Yeohlee, Todd Oldham, Billabong and Hape on design projects involving reuse, recycling and sustainable product development, said Otis. A number of global apparel brands have formed partnerships in recent years in an effort to make the production process more sustainable, encourage reuse of clothing or find betters ways to recycle materials. Last month, Nike, NASA, the US Agency for International Development and the US Department of State launched an initiative that challenges manufacturers and others to create new, sustainable materials. The sustainable materials challenge is part of the Launch initiative, started in 2010 by Nike, NASA, USAID, and the Department of State to support innovative approaches to sustainability issues. Nike also has partnered this year with Bluesign Technologies in an effort to use more sustainable materials and chemistries in its products. The partnership makes available Bluesign’s assessments tools and data to Nike’s materials suppliers.
By Phil Wakelyn
By Phil Wakelyn
Otis College of Art and Design collaborates with leading apparel brands to inspire new ways of thinking about clothes and how they are made Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) April 29, 2013 -- Otis College of Art and Design is launching the Otis Sustainability Alliance; a partnership of industry leaders from the fields of fashion, design, art, and higher education committed to advancing environmental, social, and economic sustainability through their work and collaboration. On May 4, 2013, at the Otis Scholarship Benefit and Fashion Show, the Otis Sustainability Alliance will be launched with recognition of the inaugural corporate partners: Eddie Bauer, Disney, Nike, Patagonia, Quiksilver, and Todd Oldham. “Several megabrands are making major investments in changes that are better for the earth and for its natural capital,” says Rosemary Brantley, Chair of Fashion Design at Otis. “Our goal is to create positive ripple effects. The Alliance members will collaborate with, inspire, and educate our faculty and students about the sustainable practices and priorities facing their industry. In turn, our students, as designers of the future, will have the training and vision to design products that 'do less harm' and help consumers make more thoughtful decisions about their fashion purchases.” As environmental concerns are heightened globally, companies are seeking opportunities to reduce waste and improve sustainability along the supply chain—from fiber growth and textile development, to post-consumer education, established standards, and certification programs. “Fundamentally businesses are responsible to their resource base,” says Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia and author of The Responsible Company: What We've Learned from Patagonia's First 40 Years. “Without a healthy environment there are no shareholders, no employees, no customers, and no business.” Recognizing the innovative role artists and designers can play in solving these pressing challenges, Otis College of Art and Design offers a Sustainability Minor for students to learn to become conscious of the environmental and social impacts of their projects and develop sustainable solutions. Otis students study and develop strategies and systems applicable to art and design that meet the needs of current generations without compromising those of future generations. The Sustainability Minor has seen higher enrollment than any other minor at Otis, and in recent years students have worked with companies such as Nike/Hurley, Yeohlee, Todd Oldham, Billabong, and Hape Inc. among others on design projects involving reuse, recycling, sustainable product development, and more. About Otis College of Art and Design
Founded in Los Angeles in 1918, Otis College of Art and Design prepares diverse students of art and design to enrich the world through their creativity, their skill, and their vision. The College offers an interdisciplinary education for 1200 full-time students, awarding BFA degrees in Advertising, Architecture/Landscape/Interiors, Digital Media, Fashion Design, Illustration, Graphic Design, Product Design, Painting, Photography, Sculpture/New Genres, and Toy Design; and MFA degrees in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Public Practice, and Writing. Continuing Education offers certificate programs as well
By Phil Wakelyn
Earth Day will bring a surge in green-marketing campaigns -- and will encourage companies to keep on greenwashing rather than cleaning up their acts. The very existence of a single day makes it all too easy for companies to see green marketing as an event, rather than an ongoing commitment.
A few weeks ago over on LinkedIn, Joel Makower posted a rework of his article from 2011 declaring green marketing "over." If we define green marketing as “the marketing of a green product.” Within that context, Joel may well be right. Green products have struggled to break through to the mainstream. According to polling of Americans on this topic, the 22 percent of the population that leans green and is willing to pay a price premium for green products doesn’t want to buy mainstream brands. So, yes, if we’re talking about mainstream brands trying to sell a green product with a price premium to the mainstream market, that model has struggled to work. But that’s not the only model.
In fact, when it comes to green marketing, we must think much bigger. Nearly half the American population considers a company’s environmental reputation while they’re deciding what product to buy. We also know that “corporate reputation” is now the No. 3 way a consumer decides if a product is green (up from the No. 8 slot four years ago). So every company in America should be figuring out how to package their corporate sustainability story and leverage it at the brand level — which sounds an awful lot like “green marketing”. The very existence of a single day makes it all too easy for companies to see green marketing as an event, rather than an ongoing commitment. A promotion instead of a serious integration of sustainability into a company’s values, purpose and brand. If we want to see a paradigm shift in our culture — if we want sustainability to become The Way We Do Things Around Here — it must be celebrated, promoted and leveraged every day. And if companies want to see a market or sales lift from the good things they’re doing, they’ll need to go way beyond a strategically placed free-standing newspaper insert on April 22. They’ll actually need to do ongoing “green marketing.”
Do you agree?
By Phil Wakelyn
-- A proposal to adopt a European Union-wide standard to measure the environmental performance of products and organizations is drawing mixed reactions from industry groups. The European Commission will soon begin a three-year pilot to test the common standard, which would be voluntary and is intended to help companies cut costs and lessen consumer confusion caused by too many eco-labels. The Commission says it will publish an open call for volunteers inviting companies, industrial and stakeholder organizations “in the EU and beyond” to help develop product-group specific and sector-specific rules. The proposed standard includes two methods to measure environmental performance throughout the lifecycle: the Product Environmental Footprint and the Organization Environmental Footprint. Some 48 percent of European consumers are confused by too many eco-labels, according to the most recent Eurobarometer on Green Products. Additionally, companies wanting to highlight their products’ environmental performance face obstacles including choosing between several methods promoted by governments and private initiatives and paying multiple costs, the Commission says. A common EU-wide standard would provide comparable and reliable environmental information and build consumer confidence, it says. In a joint letter to the Commission, several industry associations including Food Drink Europe, Cosmetics Europe and the International Association for Soaps, Detergents, and Maintenance Products say they support the pilot program, but caution against placing the EU industry at a competitive disadvantage. The groups say it is “vital” that a green product standard be pursued not only at the EU level, but also at the global level. The European Engineering Industries Association, European Automobile Manufacturing Association and Orgalime, meanwhile say that the lifecycle assessment methodologies do not “represent a reliable tool for creating demand for ‘better and greener products’” because it exposes companies to unfair competition “as consumers would base their buying decisions on misleading information.” A survey last summer of more than 1,000 international companies including Hewlett-Packard, Nestlé, Canon, Sara Lee and E.On found consumers and companies alike are becoming “confused” and “overwhelmed” by eco-labeling. The joint study by the International Institute for Management Development and the Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne concluded that eco-labeling has nearly reached the saturation point with companies and consumers increasingly concerned about the practice’s over-proliferation and credibility.
By Phil Wakelyn
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 -- BRUSSELS--The European Union should adopt a common standard for assessing the environmental footprint of products and organizations, according to a proposal published by the European Commission April 9. The standard would not be binding, but EU member states should endorse it to foster an EU “single market for green products,” the Commission said. The bloc’s top environment official, Commissioner Janez Potocnik, said in a statement that implementation of the standard would boost the market for green products by “giving people reliable and comparable information about the environmental impacts and credentials of products and organizations.” Potocnik added that the standard would also be a clear indication of the environmental footprint of a product or company in a situation in which there are currently “literally hundreds” of green certification and labeling schemes, which “create confusion and increasingly also cynicism” about the green claims of products. Almost half of consumers do not trust environmental claims made for products, Potocnik said. A European standard would be a “single reference method” that would reduce the costs for companies wishing to obtain certification, and would be clearer and more reliable for consumers, Potocnik added.
Lifecycle Assessment The Commission said companies wishing to prove the environmental credentials of their products must currently “apply different schemes in the different national markets.” It cited varying programs in France, Italy, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The EU-wide standard would be based on measurement of the environmental footprint of a product or organization using lifecycle assessment, and would “reward the most resource efficient products and the most resource efficient organizations on the EU market,” Potocnik said. He added that the standard would be a “harmonized, robust and user-orientated instrument” based on “solid research experience and testing of the methodology based on lifecycle analysis. The Commission has been working on the application of lifecycle thinking for more than ten years.” The Commission proposals said that lifecycle assessment would take into account the environmental impact of products “from the extraction of raw materials, to their production, distribution, use, up to the end of life (including reuse, recycling and recovery).” Lifecycle assessment is already used in some standards, such as the ISO 14000 standards promoted by the International Organization for Standardization.
Test Period Planned Commission environment spokesman Joe Hennon told BNA that the Commission would publish by the end of April a call for volunteers so that the application of the standard could be tested over a three-year period. The standard would be intended to make the environmental footprints of products and organizations “comparable across the EU,” Hennon said. He added that although the standard will be voluntary, the Commission hopes to secure the endorsement of EU environment ministers who will meet April 22-23. The standard would operate alongside the existing EU Ecolabel, which is a voluntary certification scheme that can be applied to products and services if they meet “best available” environmental standards (32 INER 305, 4/15/09).
Reactions Vary A group of industry associations, including the International Association for Soaps, Detergents, and Maintenance Products; Cosmetics Europe,;and FoodDrink Europe, said in a statement that they were “supportive” of the standard. The three-year pilot phase would “make sure that the objectives [of the standard] can be met through adequate, resource efficient, and consumer-relevant tools,” the group said. However, other industry groups protested ahead of the Commission’s proposal about the use of lifecycle assessment as the basis for the standard. The European Engineering Industries Association and the European Automobile Manufacturing Association in a March 14 letter to the Commission said that lifecycle assessment methodologies are too imprecise to allow meaningful comparisons of the environmental impacts of products. Stephane Arditi, senior policy officer for products and waste for the European Environmental Bureau, an advocacy group, told BNA that in proposing the standard, the Commission’s “intentions are good without any doubts.” However, more stringent requirements should be introduced, such as “prohibiting any green claim not supported by a standard methodology,” and “requiring third party inspection for claims,” Arditi said. -- Information about the European Commission’s proposed EU standard for green products is available at http://bit.ly/ZjQi7W.
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition has been having talks with EU on this.
By Phil Wakelyn
March 21st, 2013 -- Today H&M announced a new fashion line within its Conscious Collection at a press conference covering the company’s most recent financial and sustainability results. CEO Karl-Johan Persson and Head of Investor Relations Nils Vinge admitted that the company’s financial performance over the past quarter was rocky, with a 10 percent decrease in net profits, but they were bullish on the world’s second largest retailer’s long term growth prospects and sustainability plan. In recent years, the Swedish fast fashion giant has integrated a long term sustainability agenda within its overall strategy. In addition to 42 stores opening this quarter, entrance into five new markets and the launch of a new high-end clothing chain (& Other Stories), H&M continues to adopt and expand more sustainable and transparent business practices. Critics used to sneer at H&M for its low-quality “disposable clothing,” but a shift is underway. So what are the changes underway at H&M, and can a fashion retailer couple growth with a heightened environmental and social conscience? “Sustainability is high on our daily agenda and has been an integral part of our business for some time.” Organic cotton For the second year in a row, H&M is the world’s largest user of organic cotton. Currently 11.4 percent of the cotton in H&M’s clothes are from more sustainable sources: 7.8 percent is organic cotton and the rest is sourced from growers participating in the Better Cotton Initiative. By 2020, H&M wants to source 100 percent of its cotton from more responsible sources–a tall order.
Is there benefit in marketing yourself as green; is it time for companies to stop bragging about CSR?
By Phil Wakelyn
[from article ‘Turning green’ By Deborah Hill Cone -- The New Zealand Herald ;5:30 PM Friday Sep 2, 2011] – Green business strategies have gone mainstream, so companies should stop bragging about environmental efforts. Marketers risk turning off customers with self-complimentary CSR talk. "[M]arketing yourself as green, organic or 'authentic' is not edgy or brave or courageous these days," Cone warns. The New Zealand Herald .
Now that almost everyone is embracing sustainability, businesses need something else to stand out from the crowd. If everyone does, then companies will lose their unique selling proposition. That might be happening already. In 2009, the Harvard Business Review published an article saying that sustainability was the key driver of innovation and there was no alternative to sustainable development. In 2010, the United Nations Global Compact conducted a survey on sustainability and found that 93 per cent of businesses consider it important to their future success. In 2011 a new study by MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group found that despite the economic downturn and tenuous recovery, more than two-thirds of businesses were strengthening their commitment to sustainability. The research found that 69 per cent of companies surveyed plan to step up their investment in and management of sustainability this year. So if more than two-thirds of companies are already doing it, there is parity and where's the benefit in marketing yourself as green? Companies might find customers respect them more if they just deal with the environment and moral issues matter-of-factly because it is part of their business rather than making it into a fashion statement.
Is there still benefit for the textile/apparel and retail businesses in marketing themselves as green?
Ways to recognize more sustainable businesses: ‘Benefit Corp’ (B Corp) and “Yellow Pages” of sustainable businesses
By Phil Wakelyn
The Benefit Corporation (B Corp), a new type of corporate entity that purports to use business to address environmental and social problems, has passed the California State Assembly [Assembly Bill 361 ], and is heading to the Governor for his signature, the final step to make it law. California joins other USA states, Maryland, Vermont, New Jersey, Virginia, and Hawaii, in passing Benefit Corp legislation. In the USA there are already 444 B Corporations in 54 Industries. California in particular has a vast array of corporate entities, including various types of non-profits, corporations, and limited liability companies. Traditionally, a corporation’s mission is solely for profits, whose main benefactors are the shareholders. The B Corp changes all this. From the bill itself, “A benefit corporation shall have the purpose of creating a general public benefit. Alongside its purpose for general public benefit, one thing makes a California B Corp stand out from a traditional corporation: transparency. There is a legal mandate towards the general public benefit. In terms of transparency, a Benefit Corp has to include in its annual report overall social and environmental performance. This is on top of the traditional financial statements. Furthermore, a benefit corporation shall post all of its benefit reports on the public portion of its Internet Web site, if any. Almost any corporation can potentially become a B Corp, granted the corporation meets strict requirements.
Also a New York startup, WhoIsGreen.com [ http://www.whoisgreen.com/ ] is hoping to cash in on consumers’ rush to feel good about the businesses they deal with—and the products they buy—by providing “a Yellow Pages” of companies that use sustainable practices / for sustainable businesses. WhoIsGreen.com launched its beta product allowing businesses of all kinds that run themselves in a green way to join the company’s directory. KAYWEB Angels is the group backing WhoIsGreen.com by providing software development help and advice. The company started development 18 months ago and says it signed up about 20,000 businesses during a private beta run.
What do you think? Can a B Corp legal structure truly create corporations that benefit the general public? Do you think established corporations would be willing to change their charter to fit B Corp? Do you think companies want to be on a list of ‘sustainable businesses’given how tough consumers can be, and just how quickly word spreads on social media these days? Companies might want to think twice about listing themselves unless they can prove they are indeed green?
By Phil Wakelyn
P.J. Wakelyn and M.R. Chaudhry, Eds. 2010. Cotton: Technology for the 21st Century, International Cotton Advisory Committee, Washington, DC, USA Dec 2010
The 16 chapters of this 432 pages hardcover book have been contributed by internationally recognized authors from across the world. The book begins with the origin of the cotton species and ends with a look at how world production and demand may change in the 21st century. The book is devoted to future trends in ever-changing cotton production technology and research. Pest control, sustainability, biotechnology, fiber quality measurements, yarn processing and dyeing/finishing form substantial parts of the book. The table of contents is available at http://www.icac.org/tis/publications/book/table_of_content_2010.pdf and the book can be ordered at email@example.com.
By Phil Wakelyn
World population is predicted to increase to 9.3 billion by 2050. Will cotton supply be able to meet the future growing demand or will cotton become a premier niche fiber? Can yield increase to meet demand? What are the resource implications? Is there currently enough research addressing these concerns? From a resource management/research perspective is it possible to increase yield enough, maintain or improve quality, reduce inputs (including available land that may be required for food crops), etc. to meet the future demand? Cotton price volatility is a problem that can affect this. What price does cotton have sell for to support higher inputs, increased technology and mechanization, etc.? These are big questions, which one could write a thesis to answer.
The picture presented by various people/organizations is quite mixed concerning if cotton yields will be able to keep up with higher demand from population and economic growth. Some think we are in a long period of no growth in yields. Some feel with continued advancing technology, including genetics and biotechnology producing better, higher yielding ‘more sustainable’ varieties specific to growing regions, we will be able to clothe and feed 9.3 billion people. West Texas in the USA is a good example. They had some of the lowest yields in the USA and recently have demonstrated they can be among the highest, provided enough water and inputs. Africa, for example, has about half the yields as the rest of the world (ROW) --lots of potential if there were political and other resource constraints removed. India has had significant yield increases because of biotech. The greater concern may not be technology limitations but social, political, ideological, religious and other things that get in the way of doing the right thing.
Yields increase whenever new technology is developed. To have higher yields takes better varieties, water, and other inputs (particular N and other nutrients; and control pests). For ‘more sustainable’ cotton, water, energy and chemical use need to be reduced/limited. Water, energy, chemicals, and other inputs cost money and improvements in their use requires technology. Much research is being done to increase yield and other technology needs. What will prove to be successful is not known. There is much potential but is there enough?
What are your opinions related to whether from a resource management/research perspective is it possible for cotton to meet the future demand? What are the biggest needs?
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