My First Week as Emilia George's Sustainable Research Intern
Here at Emilia George, we are dedicated to learning and exploring the world of sustainability, and how we can incorporate these values into our brand. From the threads that make up our clothes to the truck that delivers them to you, there is a lot to learn about our impact on the environment. I’m Liana Malinowski, the summer sustainability research intern at Emilia George. It is my job to dive in and discover ways to assess our impact, make a change, and be better!
My passion for the environment coupled with my love for fashion truly makes this a dream job! There is nothing like a cup of coffee and racks of colorful dresses to get me inspired and excited to start my research each day in the office. From Monday morning business meetings to DIY maternity photoshoots, I already feel like an integral part of the brand!
After one week, I have compiled pages and pages of research regarding policies, organic fabrics, certifications and sustainability guides. I have listened to sustainability summits, info videos, and fashion blogs, all with hopes that this research might help us move forward with our mission to provide environmentally-conscious apparel to mothers who want the best for their skin and baby. This blog post is a one-week recap of major takeaways and interesting findings regarding sustainability in the fashion industry.
POLICY NEWS AND UPDATES!
A huge step is being made in the right direction! The Fashion Act, which was presented in January 2022, is pending in the hands of the Consumer Protection Committee of the NY Assembly. The act targets fashion companies working in New York with over $100M in global revenues. They would be required to be honest about their social and environmental footprint, and provide their findings to the public. New York would become the first state to impose sustainability requirements on big-name fashion brands, ensuring due diligence and promoting conscious consumerism. The bill was presented by NY State Senator, Alessandra Biaggi, and Assembly woman, Anna R. Kelles. We love to see powerful women bringing powerful change!
If you’ve ever browsed through Amazon’s fashion page, you know the wide range of products, styles, and brands in their repertoire. If you're a devout Amazon shopper, maybe you’ve even noticed the “Climate Pledge Friendly” stamp of approval on some products. I took a deeper look into what this means and how we can achieve it.
Amazon partnered with a variety of external certification agencies to offer their customers an easy way to discern sustainable and ethical products. Some applicable certifications for us to consider are MadeSafe, Oeko-Tex Made in Green, RWS, and the Recycled Claim Standard. The MadeSafe Verification is for products that are non-toxic, based on their list of hazardous chemicals. The Responsible Wool Standard requires that farming techniques prioritize the rights of the sheep and the environment in a mission to ensure animal welfare and progressive land management. The Recycled Claim Standard (Blended & 100) acknowledges products made from recycled materials, with compositions of either 50% or 95%. The Oeko-Tex “Made in Green” label recognizes materials rid of harmful substances and made in safe working conditions. Several of these labels align with our products so we look forward to the day we can say we are officially Climate Pledge Friendly!
SUSTAINABLE STRATEGY FOR DUMMIES!
If you are a sustainable strategy dummy, like I once was, you have come to the right place. Everyday at Emilia George we are researching, learning, and assessing ways that we can master sustainable strategy. Luckily, there are resources out there to guide us in the right direction, notably the CFDA’s Guide to Sustainable Strategies. In this extensive, 233-pager, it provides resources for impact assessment and design strategies that limit waste and increase efficiency. Several helpful tools suggested in the guide so far include the Circular Design Guide, CanopyStyle initiative, and B-Corp Impact Assessment. The Circular Design guide helps brands design clothes that are meant to be repurposed and recycled, closing the loop on a once wasteful process. The CanopyStyle initiative offers a partnership that can ensure that fabrics like viscose, rayon, modal, lyocell, or acetate are not sourced from ancient rainforests. And the B-Corp Impact Assessment is a two to three hour assessment that offers a full impact report in order to help us understand where we are succeeding and what needs to be improved. We are bringing you along for our journey towards sustainability, from dummies to experts!
Sustainable fashion begins with fabric! Comfortable and breathable fabrics are our priority- So what are these different fabrics, what are they made of, and are they hurting our planet? Cotton and organic cotton are made up of (you guessed it!) cotton. As simple as that sounds, the distinction is actually very important. Organic cotton uses far less water and pesticides as its ordinary counterpart, offering a final product that is safer and softer. Organic cotton production also prioritizes worker rights and soil condition, aligning clothing with values. Tencel and Modal are forms of regenerative cellulosic fabric made from wood pulp. Both of the processes to produce these fabrics are closed-loop systems, meaning the chemicals involved get reused and avoid environmental contact. Both fabrics are considered to be Rayon, the most mysterious fabric of them all. It can be sustainable or extremely wasteful depending on the factory from which it was produced, and their steps towards environmental protection. That is why it is important to dig deep into the history of your clothing and demand transparency from the manufacturers. Understanding this research is a key step in ensuring safe, ethical, and eco-conscious materials for our community of mothers.
ONWARD AND UPWARD!
It may start with materials but it sure does not end there! In my research, I want to uncover ways to be eco-conscious every step of the process, from sourcing to delivery! This upcoming week, I’ll dive into packaging, office recycling, and assessing our carbon footprint. Stay tuned for our sustainability journey!
THANK YOU TO MY SOURCES:
"About Us." MadeSafe, https://www.madesafe.org/about/about-us.
“Is Sustainability En Vogue or the Newest Staple? What New York's Proposed Fashion
Sustainability and Social Accountability Act Could Mean for the Fashion and Other Industries.” The National Law Review, Wickersham & Taft LLP, 11 Feb. 2022, https://www.natlawreview.com/article/sustainability-en-vogue-or-newest-staple-what-new-york-s-proposed-fashion.
Leibowitz, Domenica. “CFDA Guide to Sustainable Strategies.” Council of Fashion Designers of America.
“Made in Green by Oeko-Tex.” Oeko-Tex, https://www.oeko-tex.com/en/apply-here/made-in-green-by-oeko-tex
Morgan, Tillie, director. Tencel vs Modal. YouTube, 4 Mar. 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIgP2y0Z-Z4.
“Quick Guide to the Responsible Wool Standard.” Textile Exchange, https://textileexchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/RAF-403a-V2.1-Quick-Guide-to-the-RWS.pdf.
“Recycled Claim Standard.” Textile Exchange, https://textileexchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/RCS-v2.2-Implementation-Manual.pdf