Climate Positive Textiles & Clothing with MATEREVOLVE

 
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Designing a better future for all

According to one recent study, the fashion industry's collective carbon impact isn't just enormous - it's actually larger than the entirety of the airline industry, among others. When you take both the apparel and footwear industries together, they account for more than 8% of all global climate impact. To put this into perspective, this is larger than ALL international flights and ALL maritime shipping trips - combined.

  • Clothing is produced on shorter time frames with new designs appearing every few weeks to satisfy demand for the latest trends

  • It is estimated that there are 20 new garments manufactured per person each year.

  • Consumers are buying 60% more than 2000

  • Garments are worn less and disposed of quicker

  • Increased consumption creates more waste in every form, from pollutants, to the depletion of our resources.

It is imperative for businesses both large and small in this industry to understand that being profitable and being environmentally conscious are not something you can only choose one of. The environmentally-related challenges that we face - both as an industry and as a society - are severe, yes. But they are absolutely not insurmountable.

If anything, the current climate crisis represents a genuine opportunity from a certain point of view - one that gives all industry players a chance to play to their strengths and do what they do best.

Be as creative as humanly possible.

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Why Gather?

How We Will Find a Creative End to the Climate Crisis

 

These challenges aren't insurmountable.

THE WALDEN GATHERING Searched to answer questions:

“With more emerging science and access to information than ever before, how can we build textile and clothing systems that support healthy living systems?”

“How can we incorporate new learnings from regenerative agriculture, science on the impacts of climate change on the ocean, integrate circular thinking, and innovate material systems fast enough to meet the climate imperative?”

And Expand Upon Existing Solutions:

Consignment and Resale - Make no mistake about it - one of the hottest trends this year takes the form of circular fashion, and with good reason. It's a perfect opportunity to not only extend the lifecycle of well-made items, but to also recycle their materials into brand new ones as well.

The Share Economy - New revenue streams are being created that capitalize on a slow but steady shift towards subscription (as opposed to ownership) models of consumption. Indeed, the era of "fashion as a service" may truly be upon us.

The Supply Chain and Recyclability - Not only does a reliance on eco-friendly best practices enable businesses to do their part to help preserve our fragile environment, but it can also yield additional benefits like a reduction in inventory costs and a faster time to market, too.

 
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Working Together

A Sustainable World, Created Through Collaboration

Building a sustainable material world isn't something that can happen overnight. It will require not only hard work and perseverance, but also a deeply rooted collaboration with organizations who value the possibility of a better tomorrow over the profits of today.

There is perhaps no better example of such a company than materEVOLVE, a women-led consulting firm aimed at bringing about transformational change across the textile and apparel industry.

Walden Gathering has proudly partnered with materEVOLVE in an effort to help do our part to leave this fragile planet in a better condition than the one it was in when we found it

 

setting the tone through INTRODUCTIONS

We started the day with a rigorous networking hike around the Walden property. A steady uphill climb among the leafy coastal oaks, let us breathe and introduce ourselves in a relaxed style as a group of individuals from diverse backgrounds and fields joined the discussions.

Where are you focusing your efforts now?

 
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Nature forward solutions

Thing for the future by acting today

Design for the ocean and the earth, not ourselves

Build sustainable cultures for brands

Components can be replaced easily

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Everything in nature is done with purpose

Makers not Producers

Miracle Materials

Believe in bringing people out in the earth

Synthesize science for actionable on the ground planning

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Soil, sea and circularity

Mindset should be focused on the end consumer and the end consumer should determine the mindset of the producers

Educate the consumer on not consuming

Make consignment more appealing

Scaling People and their ideas

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Don’t make what we don’t need

Nature = being inspired, It is meaningful which demands more purpose and pride.

Everyone is a climate changemaker

Believe in bringing people out in the earth

 
Rethinking the future: It is a profound challenge, at the end of an era of cheap oil and materials to rethink and redesign how we produce and consume; to reshape how we live and work, or even to imagine the jobs that will be needed for transition.
— Ellen MacArthur

Gathering Discussions

“We use a design-thinking format around the table, walking discussions on nature trails, and guided meditation to inspire the group to solve big problems. Instead of the hyper-intense networking of your typical conference, participants spend the entire day outside with a carefully curated small and diverse group of people.”

After the Gathering intro, members presented current issues, focused on:

  • Language & metrics we can all agree upon

  • Needs Vs Wants

  • Policy Vs Production

  • Promoting an Eco-Centric community & Marketplace

  • Nature as a Catalyst to Change

  • Creating Solutions for the Next Generation’s biggest Problem

During these discussions, participants break up into groups to increase contributions and engagement. Topics are addressed, opinions are shared and summaries are presented to all.


Key Themes

 
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How do Redesign Climate Change

 

Key Takeaways from Discussions

Hard to understand the impact of the small changes one makes, therefore it is easier not to make them

Have to start somewhere

Gather the information then take the appropriate action

Slowing down is important but at what point do we truly need all of our efficiencies

Lack of time, inability to look up - you have to prioritize time to look up and care and move along your short term circle

Corporate buy in = harder conversations - find the way to get attention

Unfortunately starting small is difficult in manufacturing as it is volume base - “Top Down”

Hit them in the wallets

Challenge - social media - “buy, buy buy”

Hard to understand the impact of the small changes one makes, therefore it is easier not to make them

Consumer level - having financial reasons/resources to buy

Hierarchy of purchase power

Don't focus on “this season” - think long term.

Multitasking is taking away the resources for other things

Policy is misaligned - “carrot before the horse”.

Should we be asking corporations to do it? Most decision makers believe it is important to make the appropriate decisions yet some are still disconnected and bottom line focused.

Kids want to know the answers

Cost Benefits Vs. Convenience

The last voice is the loudest voice

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Redesigning Climate Change

The Fashion Industry's Fight Against Climate Change Must Begin Now

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Thankfully, the topic of circular fashion - otherwise known as an emphasis on consignment and resale - is one that has already taken hold across the industry. Maybe the best example of this is The RealReal, an online and physical luxury consignment store that is already valued at an impressive $450 million, this despite the fact that it has only been around since 2011.

The business itself was founded with a simple premise - it is absolutely possible to extend the life of luxury goods for far longer periods than normal, as both the quality and the craftsmanship support keeping them in circulation for as long as possible.

One survey of The RealReal's clients showed that 57% of them cite "environmental impact and sustainability" as key motivators to switch to consignment in the first place. Another 32% of respondents cited that they were looking for a viable alternative to "fast fashion." Both of these have shown that the behavior of consumers has already shifted towards a more sustainable future - now, it's up to businesses within the industry itself to adapt.

You could look at nature as being like a catalog of products, and all of those have benefited from a 3.8 billion year research and development period. And given that level of investment, it makes sense to use it.
— Michael Pawlyn
 
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Creating a community of problem solvers

 

Key Takeaways from Discussions

Sometimes those who act differently find themselves on the outskirts of community - like the “hippies in the 70s” - the fringe community can no longer be composed of those who are taking action

Groups create demand and can shift supply

Food and Fiber = Sustainability

Make fashion positive capable materials for all communities

Caution of listening to your own world too much - experience new things and ideas

“If you build it they will come” - Who/How? - You find a way to connect!

“Rolls within a community doesn’t burden 1 person”

Community savings through value chains

Brands can create communities while consumers should demand community

Nature is community

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Share Community

The Rise of the Share Economy and the World's Biggest Closet

This segues directly into another one of the important topics that was discussed at the recent Walden Gathering - that of the Share Economy. In a lot of ways, other industries have already been embracing this simple premise for years. A piece of enterprise software used to be something you paid a hefty license fee for on a per-user basis, only to pay again for ongoing maintenance and upgrades until it was "replaced" by something "newer and better" just a few short years later.

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Flash forward today, and "software as a service" has become the new norm. Instead of paying for individual licenses, enterprises leverage a subscription model that exchanges all of those exorbitant costs and hassles for one fixed monthly fee that gets them access to everything they need at any time.

There is absolutely no reason why the industry can't view "fashion as a service" in the exact same way - in other words, something we "have access to" rather than "something we own outright." Again, this is something that consumers have already shown themselves willing to embrace - the Business of Fashion's 2019 report on The State of Fashion indicated that the resale market will outpace "fast fashion" by as soon as a decade from now.

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Likewise, savvy businesses are already capitalizing on this to great effect - with Rent the Runway being perhaps the most prominent example. In exchange for one competitive monthly fee, services like these provide members with "unlimited access" to "the largest shared closet in the world." It's the Netflix model applied to the fashion industry - and it is very much the path to a more sustainable future.

The shared closet economy is not just for bargain hunters, although its active members understand the direct value in finding luxury items at lower costs, they are passionate about re-using items that would normally end up in the trash. A survey conducted by TRR demonstrates that 57 percent of consignors claim to be motivated by environmental reasons and an alternative to “fast fashion”, after all it is estimated that 25 million pounds of clothing are thrown out in the U.S. every year.

“Viewing fashion as a service — as something we access instead of own — is going to be a really important part of solving the environmental crisis that is fashion”
— Elizabeth L. Cline

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Using Nature As Inspiration

Key Takeaways from Discussions

Learn from our past, specifically the indigenous people who only harvested what they needed

Our resources are limited

Invest in science and new materials

Recycle materials

Demand more interaction with Nature in order to protect it - experience is key

Science doesn’t always win, create compelling stories backed by science

Evolve like nature

Protect through policy

 

Protection

The Major Impact of Supply Chains and Recyclability

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It's long been proven that consumers care about sustainable practices - and those in the fashion industry are no different. But in addition to the environmental impact, this can absolutely have a very real (and very positive) impact on a company's bottom line - which is why the industry collectively needs to move in this direction sooner rather than later.

One study conducted by Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group, for example, suggested that companies that A) allocate resources more efficiently across their supply chain, B) create better working conditions for their employees, and C) use sustainable materials like bioplastics and many others can alone boost margins by as much as 1% to 2% by as soon as 2030 thanks to the public accountability alone.

Plus, an optimized supply chain can also increase speed-to-market and dramatically decrease overall inventory costs, also giving way to less waste (and more profits) as well.

Science was once introduced to this industry as a path to decrease the bottom line, now large investments are being made into the research and development of new materials that mimic our natural ones in order to protect and preserve them. The majority of the industry utilizes antiquated fabrics which have changed little over the past couple hundred years. Following all tech trends, there should be no reason to not only continue but increase the investments of these exploratory projects. At the moment many of these new options are hindered by scalability, but in time we have no doubt that we will be able to produce environmentally safe materials at volume to meed the demands of producers and consumers.

People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change
— Desmond Tutu - Archbishop Emeritus

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Gathering Actions & Solutions

 

WALDEN GATHERINGS ARE NOT JUST FOCUSED ON TALKING ABOUT SOLUTIONS, BUT PUTTING SOLUTIONS INTO ACTION.

While ideas are shared throughout the day, we gather to create change.

In order to improve the world around us, we must not only speak about the issues at hand, but work towards solutions. The point of the discussions is to establish the framework for identifying and understanding the problems.

What follows, is most important.

Discussions

Not talking about things that have not existed before.

Language we can all agree on

A field book of history and indigenous people to encourage having clothes and other necessities for long

Farmers need to get paid on time, you need to pay

Lead by example

Revolution did good through designing

Regenerative agriculture - living the way we use

Partnering big brands with small ones - finding a way to collaborate

Minimize waste while providing access to materials for smaller brands

Aggregate demand & scale

Jump off a cliff - you are not flying

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Actionable Solutions

Lexicon of Sustainability - Language we can all agree upon

Field-book of history & Indigenous people to encourage sustainable choices

Facilitate partnerships between small and large brands to maximize the use and re-use of materials in a scalable way


Big Picture

The solution to the current climate crisis we face as a society will absolutely include a lot of different variables, but one thing is for sure - it will also include the input and contribution of the fashion industry. For years, consumers have been making a shift towards environmental friendliness and now the providers themselves are working hard to support and empower that.

New trends like a greater emphasis on consignment and resale, the share economy, and better supply chain and recyclability practices can not only help decrease the fashion industry's carbon footprint tremendously - they can also confirm to the rest of the world just what an important issue this really is, and how we're all prepared to rise up and face it together.

There is a lot of work that needs to be done in the textile space in order to change the way we treat the way we produce and dispose of our clothing. More cross-industry discussions are needed to move the needle forward.
— Anne Schauer-Gimenez
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LETTER FROM KRYSTLE MOODY WOOD

CO-HOST & FOUNDER OF MATEREVOLVE

To our Materevolve community,

It has only been a fortnight since we gathered together in the beautiful hills of Monterey and I’m still humming with inspiration from the incredible passion and vision you shared with us around building Climate Positive Clothing & Textiles.

We started the day with a sun-drenched hike, soaking in the smells of 200-year oak trees, meeting new like-minded friends, and carefully stepping around the fresh sprigs of leaves-of-three-let-it-be. Thanks to our fearless trail guide and steward for the day, Nick Trum, we all arrived back to the main gathering area with minds open and ready to share your experience and your thoughtfulness around the textile industry’s biggest climate challenges.

After deep discussions, strong themes emerged throughout the day:

  • the need for everyone (including apparel companies) to slow down, look up, and prioritize around setting long term goals rather than looking for quick wins

  • the importance of deeply connecting with nature and your textiles community to bring purpose-led solutions to the table

  • the urgency to act today and acknowledging that every impactful seed starts small at first

Understanding that you all have different experiences and takeaways, we encourage you to share your stories, your post-gathering thoughts, your moments of validation or inspiration, and your photos with us and your communities. It’s the first and most important first step to inspiring the change we all want to see.

Thank you all for spending your Friday with us and reinforcing our mission at Materevolve, LLC. to build a diverse community of climate & textile change-makers and provide them the opportunity to work together, in nature, to build a restorative clothing and textiles economy.

Thank you also to NIck Jekogian and Nick Trum for opening their special piece of land and

offering us the amazing opportunity to camp and gather around sustainable textiles in the California wild.

Wishing you a beautiful 2019!

Best,

Krystle Moody Wood


Team

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We aim to bring together passionate individuals, groups and organizations to gather, learn and collaborate in small groups on how best to contribute and invest their time, talent and resources to innovative solutions -- and then take them back into the world.   We see everyone who joins as an equal expert at the table because we believe in the wisdom of the crowd to find solutions.
 

Krystle Moody|Nicole Kenney|Joyce Hu|Jess Daniels| Ryan Wood|Eileen Mockus|Janice Paredes|Carol Shu|Rory Jacobson|Holly Secon|Armelle Richard|Andrea Ferris|Jessie Curry|Lee Gladish|Molly morse| Anne Schauer-Gimenes|Melissa Harvell|Rachel Metcalf|Rebecca homen|Jeff thomas|Nick Trum|



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