Focus: Consumer Goods
Location: London, UK
Many clothes on the market today are produced using harmful chemicals to make synthetic fiber or to dye and bleach the fabric. The fashion industry leaves behind a mammoth environmental footprint from the various chemicals and pesticides that are used. These chemicals are then released into the freshwater sources and harm the ecosystem. The Earth’s resources cannot keep up with our rising demand for throw-away fashion. Cotton, for example, a vital input to the apparel industry, is responsible for 2.6% of the global water use. An estimated 17-20% of industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and treatment. By switching to organic fibers or sustainable fabrics the fashion industry can reduce their carbon footprint and reduce water usage, while also diminishing the amount of chemicals that damage to the environment. People Tree is one such organization that is making “conscious” fashion.
People Tree was founded by Safia Minney, who is a firm believer of the fact that good business and economic practice can bring people out of poverty, as well as breed new environmentally benign production methods and supply chains. She believes in an amalgam of business and charity to deliver financial, social and environmental benefits. People Tree loves fashion, but they aim to do it differently. Their designs are hand-made leaving a smaller carbon-footprint in comparison with machine-made items. They encourage natural and organic cotton farming and avoid using damaging chemicals in production, instead using recycled and biodegradable substances. People Tree also reuses everything they can, and aims to protect water supplies and forests in the environments where it works. Using sustainable products is not only good for the Earth, but also for people and animals. People Tree wants to make the consumer aware about every stage of the clothing production process from procurement of raw materials to the delivery. On every product page on their website they clearly state how the product was made. The first Fair Trade and organic cotton supply chain was started by them nearly 20 years ago and they are also the first company to have certified clothing made in the developing world. People Tree is deeply dedicated to empowering the poor, protecting the environment and changing the kind of world we live in.
People Tree is an active member of many Fair Trade, social justice and environmental networks. They are certified by the WFTO, the Fairtrade Foundation, and the Soil Association. Buying clothes labeled under the Fair Trade Act is sustainable on several levels: you can be sure it was produced under safe working conditions, it’s sweatshop free, and the person who made it earned a fair wage. Recently in 2015, People Tree won the Ethical Business Award at the Better Society Awards. Additionally, in 2014, it was voted 1 of the top 5 ethical companies in the UK by Ethical Consumer readers. The founder Safia was also shortlisted for the Women’s Champion at the Social Enterprise Award. As consumers if we make the choice to reduce waste and be more aware of where our clothing comes from, we will be doing more for the earth and ourselves than we can imagine.
Environmental Impact: Avoided use of harmful chemicals, organic farming, efficient water use
Measurement: People Tree
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