Clothing Companies Hope to Reach National Sustainability

Eileen Fisher, Inc., a New York City clothing company, is collecting used clothing to be recycled into newer products.

“Our goal was to find techniques that minimize waste and preserve the inherent value of Eileen Fisher’s materials,” said Carmen Gama, winner of the Social Innovator Award, who, along with Teslin Doud and Lucy Jones, helped design new sustainable products from recycled clothes. “They’re so beautiful they can easily have a second and maybe third life.”

According to SustainableBrands, GREEN EILEEN, Fisher’s program that collects, designs and distributes recycled clothing also donates its profits to organizations that support women and girls in New York, Seattle and around the globe. GREEN EILEED has donated more than $2 million and has recycled 500,000 garments.

“Along with their galvanizing enthusiasm, Teslin, Lucy and Carmen are laving behind a new model for clothing production,” said Fisher. “We’re one significant step closer to our vision for becoming a closed-loop company.”

Every year, approximately 12 million tons of clothing is thrown out in the U.S., which ends up being dumped into landfills. Another program, which looks to tackle the clothing waste issue by repairing damaged clothing, has already received over $1 million in funding from Closed Loop Ventures in New York as well as VTF Capital in Las Vegas and San Francisco.

The Guardian reports that the program, Renewal Workshop, takes clothing from sustainability-focused companies and then sorts the garments into groups based on the various levels of necessary repair. The workshop then repairs the clothing in bulk and eventually redistributes it.

“Instead of being a repair center, which is not very efficient,” said Jeff Denby, co-founder of Renewal Workshop, “we’re acting like a production facility.”

Fisher hopes her program will not only encourage other companies to focus on clothing recyclables, but she also expects to collect more than one million items of clothing by 2020.

“My vision is for a closed-loop company that designs into sustainability from the very beginning all the way through to our recycling program,” said Fisher, “and now, our upcycling program.”

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