In My View: Four Different, yet Defining Takes on Sustainability

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In a sign of strength, eco efforts not only advanced during Covid, but flourished. We see responsible product development and planet-positive investment on all fronts these days which bodes well for the staying power of sustainability. It also shows how sustainability is no longer a single characteristic, but rather an across-the-board integrated approach to innovation. Here are just a few of examples of how sustainability shines this Spring season:

Allbirds is building on its established corporate platform of reducing its carbon emissions through material and production choices with a $2 million investment in Natural Fiber Welding (NFW) to bring a vegan leather replacement option to Allbirds customers by December 2021. Located in Peoria, IL, NFW specializes in performance plant-based materials produced using clean technology. Branded products included Clarus, a robust cotton, and Mirum vegan leather. (More details on NFW can be found in the Jan/Feb 2021 issue of Textile Insight.)

Bollé Brands is introducing an Eco React helmet that combines natural materials with EPS shock absorbers and MIPS brain protection system to deliver a performance cycling helmet using 40 percent recycled materials in the PC shell.  Materials in the mix are cork EPS, renewable bamboo fiber for a comfort lining and renewable cotton fiber in the straps. A new Eco-Nylon frame material serves as the centerpiece of the Serengeti Sport Sunglass Collection. The new frames are made from a polymer called Grilamid BTR, a sustainable substitute for TR90, a commonly used nylon frame material. The new Grilamid BTR is extracted from castor plants and offers performance characteristics offered by TR90 Nylon, including durability, flexibility and strength but without the use of petrol.

Serengeti is also using plant-based fibers to create packaging with new carton packaging made of 40 percent recycled kraft cardboard, that  is 100 percent recyclable. Lens cloth and pouches sold with glasses are made of 100 percent recycled PET.

Unifi’s REPREVE Champions of Sustainability program, now in its fourth year, is the largest ever in the company's history. Champions of Sustainability represent brands, retailers and textile partners who keep billions of plastic bottles out of the waste stream by using REPREVE recycled fiber. “With a nearly 20 percent  increase in the number of winners from the previous year, our brand partners are demonstrating a steadfast commitment to sustainability,” said Unifi CEO Eddie Ingle. REPREVE Champions of Sustainability will be awarded to 38 brand and retail partners that have transformed 10 million or more recycled plastic bottles and 55 textile partners that have transformed 50 million or more recycled plastic bottles through the use of REPREVE performance fibers. In addition to the 98 bottle-based awards, Unifi is also recognizing three special category award winners: REPREVE Newcomer, REPREVE Partners in Innovation and REPREVE Leading the Change.

Keen recently ran a full-page ad in the New York Times as an open-source invitation to competitors on how it creates PFC-free footwear. The Portland, OR-based family owned footwear company is inviting industry product developers to visit its site, www.keenfootwear.com/Detox, to learn the process it has followed for the past six years to eliminate PFCs from its supply chain. The ad appearing in the March 22nd edition of the Times states, “We challenge the outdoor footwear industry to be PFC Free by 2025.” Keen includes a  shout out to “our friends at Salomon” for already achieving this goal.

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