Ahead of Earth Day last month, over one million people took to social media urging corporations to "break free" from single-use plastics. And from the fashion to the auto industry – and everywhere in between – innovations are taking root to increase our use of sustainable materials. To continue the momentum created by Earth Day, this year’s World Environment Day (June 5) is also focused on plastic pollution.
Thanks to innovations in textile materials, consumers no longer have to choose between sustainability and performance. According to a new report by the Global Fashion Agenda, raw materials can account for up to 50 percent of a brand’s environmental footprint. But sustainable alternatives such as Unifi’s REPREVE allow brands to embed a wide range of technical performance properties into our recycled fibers to give consumers the quality they want. Volcom and many others have chosen recycled alternatives to increase their use of sustainable materials and help keep plastic bottles out of landfills. Other alternatives including regenerated fibers, synthetic silk and mushroom-based ‘leather’ are finding a home with mass-market and luxury brands alike. With increased scrutiny on the fashion industry’s environmental impact, these alternative materials can help brands meet their sustainability goals.
But innovative materials aren’t limited to the fashion industry. Automakers are challenging the status quo by incorporating sustainable materials into their vehicles, which often has the dual benefit of making them lighter. The auto industry has garnered attention for using sustainable materials including agave fiber, soy foam and much more in a range of their vehicles. With a similar ethos, the hospitality and home goods industries are deepening their commitments to sustainable sourcing. Designers and home buyers find that sustainable textiles complement other environmentally conscious design factors in commercial and residential design.
While Earth Day and World Environment Day are key to drawing global attention to plastic pollution, brands and consumers can make more sustainable choices every day. Last year, Unifi recycled its 10 billionth bottle thanks to partnerships with some of the world's leading apparel, automotive and home goods brands. Now, our goal is to recycle 30 billion bottles by 2022, and we’ve launched the Champions of Sustainability Awards to help recognize the brand partners that will help us get there.
True sustainable innovation starts in the fiber, but it ends with brands making sourcing decisions that help beat plastic pollution. Join our REPREVE Mobile Tour at SB'18 Vancouver, June 4-7, and create a shareable video of your company’s plastic commitments for World Environment Day to tell us how your company is redesigning the good life.