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Altering the pattern: Organic Fashion and Textiles Week



London Fashion Week SS15 is around the corner, celebrating an industry that moves so fast we’re already six months ahead. Meanwhile, the Soil Association is asking us to slow down for Organic Fashion and Textiles Week, a dedicated event within the organisation’s Organic September campaign held to coincide with London Fashion Week – but with a greater emphasis on how our clothes are made rather than on their designer label.

The national Organic Fashion and Textiles Week event, held from September 12th to 16th, will feature events, talks, competitions and money-off promotions with a number of fashion brands taking part. The emphasis, like all of Organic September, is how consumers can make a big difference through small changes, such as buying clothes made using organic fibres.

“We’re holding Organic Fashion and Textiles Week to celebrate the amazing work our textiles and fashion licensees do and to raise awareness of the work that goes into making organic clothing and textiles – from growing the cotton right the way through the supply chain to the finished product,” explains Emma Reinhold, trade relations manager at the Soil Association.

The organic cotton trade is a different kettle of fish to the standard route to market; according to Reinhold it gives control to farmers, not GM companies, eliminates hazardous synthetic pesticides, helps farmers feed their families, saves water and combats climate change. So why doesn’t everyone do it?

“Fashion has become faster. Most fashion buyers take a short-term view on everything,” says Safia Minney MBE, CEO of People Tree, one of the brands taking part in Organic Fashion and Textiles Week and the first clothing range to meet the Global Organic Textile Standard certified by the Soil Association.

“Farmers need support for transition from non-organic to organic, which takes about seven years. During the transition the yield can drop.”

Minney always intended to place organic cotton and wool at the heart of People Tree. “When I started 20 years ago I travelled around Zimbabwe and looked at how we could work with smallholder farmers whose cotton was organic as they could not afford any pesticides,” she explains. “However, all the cotton mills were owned by wealthy white industrialists who would not separate the organic cotton with the normal. It was clear that you needed to create a market demand to get them a better price and support sustainable agriculture.”

The environmental and social impacts of organic agriculture go hand in hand. “It protects the planet by sequestering 1.5 tons of CO2 into the soil each year per acre [and] reduces the use of unsustainable resources, like oil, the main ingredient used in fertiliser,” says Minney.

Instead, organic farmers use natural pesticides made from chilli, neem, garlic and soap to control pests, instead of expensive and harmful chemicals. Using natural pesticides protects both people and the environment from chemicals, reduces the pollution of the water, air and soil, and also saves the farmers up to 3,000 rupees [£30] per acre.” 

There are also no allergenic, carcinogenic or toxic chemicals that are passed on to the customers who wear the garments, she adds.

Minney explains that there is a 30% Fair Trade and organic premium paid on People Tree’s cotton, which is used for clean water projects, micro-finance and schools, while the ability to grow crops such as millet, tomatoes and aubergines alongside the cotton provides food and additional income.

Reinhold says she hopes organic textiles will become more mainstream as shoppers continue to demand transparency. “As more consumers become aware of how their clothes are made, we hope they will start questioning the manufacturing process. With more demand for organic cotton, we hope retailers will take notice and change their policies.”

Minney says that the Rana Plaza disaster has made more people think about how their clothes are made and agrees that higher consumer demand for organic fabric will result in greater availability. However, it is fast fashion’s reliance on depleted resources that will drive change.

“We are living beyond our resources. The fast fashion industry is completely unsustainable,” she comments. “With a growing world population, we need to be adding more value by growing organically, by hand-making and hand-crafting textiles and fashion with care. We need to respect our clothes and not treat them as a disposable commodity.

“I think we are moving into a revolution similar to 20 years ago with the slow food movement, bringing more sustainable and producer-friendly practice into the fashion industry.”

This revolution may be happening under our noses: the 2013 Organic Cotton Report from Textile Exchange listed H&M, C&A, Puma, Nike and Decathlon as the world’s top five user of organic cotton by volume. With these big high-street names taking the organic industry more seriously, others may follow.

Ahead of Organic Fashion and Textiles Week, Safia Minney will host ‘Fashioning the Future’ on September 10th with panellists Romy Fraser, founder of Neal’s Yard Remedies and Trill Farm, and Lord Peter Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association.

The Soil Association hopes its Organic Fashion and Textiles Week will raise awareness of organic materials such as wool.

Morwenna Kearns is a freelance writer, online editor and PR and social media manager for businesses and organisations running the sustainability and ethical gamut, from fashion to food to filmmaking. She also works within the visual communications sector. Morwenna can be found tweeting as @morwennakearns, blogging about ethical fashion and beauty at and editing environmental business news at

Photo: Soil Association 

Further reading:

London Fashion Week: ‘fashion and sustainable fashion can be one and the same’

Sustainable fashion: an oxymoron?

Greenpeace study finds toxic chemicals in children’s clothes

Love Your Clothes: UK retailers to tackle clothing waste

Morwenna Kearns is a freelance writer, online editor and PR and social media manager for businesses and organisations running the sustainability and ethical gamut, from fashion to food to filmmaking. She also works within the visual communications sector. Morwenna can be found tweeting as @morwennakearns, blogging about ethical fashion and beauty at and editing environmental business news at


How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable




sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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