Textile Exchange is a global nonprofit with a mission to accelerate the use of sustainable fibers across the global textile industry. We sat down with their CEO and co-founder La Rhea Pepper, to discuss how they are using their platform as an informative voice to push for visible change and why they are a key supporter of the TENCEL™ brand’s #MakeItFeelRight movement.
Read below to uncover more details on the magnitude of our planet’s climate issues and the amazing steps the NGO is taking to help!
- What attracted you to join the #MakeItFeelRight campaign and how do you think it will help to change the environmental impact of fashion?
La Rhea: At Textile Exchange, we recognize the need to increase the consumers’ awareness of the impact certain materials have on the world. Enhanced understanding will empower them to become more eco-conscious and make decisions which are better for the planet. It’s great to see that TENCEL™’s #MakeItFeelRight campaign has a plan focused on educating consumers in this way. We hope that this movement not only drives awareness but also inspires sustainable action to follow.
- Why should brands create different options for consumers?
La Rhea: Most of the time, consumers buy a piece of clothing purely because of how good it looks on them. However, consumers should consider that the choices we make for fabrics and raw materials impact people’s lives and impact the planet. Brands should help reinforce this message by connecting consumers to the people and places beyond the products they purchase. Take a pair of socks, for example. By sharing the story behind those socks, right back to the farm where the fiber originally came from, and the journey it took to produce the final product, brands can equip consumers with the right information to make more responsible choices for people and planet. At the same time, they can inspire a more meaningful relationship with the brand and an emotional connection to the product’s sustainability story.
- What do you think it means by supply chain transparency? How does this affect our clothing?
La Rhea: Transparency in supply chains is a powerful tool to ignite positive change in the textile and fashion industry. It can help provide visibility to brands and consumers on all the pairs of hands that go into making a certain product. With this information, brands and consumers alike can make more informed decisions that create a better world for all of us. The TENCEL™ brand takes it one step further by ensuring all TENCEL™ branded fibers are identifiable, verifiable and traceable, providing consumers proof that TENCEL™ fibers in their final products are authentic and carry all the promised sustainability benefits. Research shows that consumers are willing to reward brands with more transparent and sustainable supply chains through higher price premium. This is reflected in the success of brands with sustainability and transparency as core values.
- What initiatives are your organization taking to drive sustainability?
La Rhea: At Textile Exchange, we believe that climate action starts at the source of the materials we choose. That's why we’re guiding a global community of brands, manufacturers and growers towards more purposeful production from the very start of the textile supply chain.
For real change to happen, everyone needs a clear path to positive impact. So, we set out to inspire and equip leaders within the fashion and textile industry with resources and guidance that make choosing responsible materials the accessible default.
We believe that approachable, step-by-step instruction amplified by collective action can change the system. We’re helping to do just that through our certified standards, industry-wide benchmarking and unique platform to advance proven solutions.
- How should consumers feel about greenwashing, and how can they recognize it?
La Rhea: Whether intentional or otherwise, greenwashing claims mislead consumers who are trying to align their values with how they spend their money. Consumers are already aware that this happens and regularly report that they are confused or frustrated by environmental claims that are vague or unclear.
In general, you can spot greenwashing by keeping an eye out for broad claims with no specific information, claims made with no substantiation or verification, or claims based on only a few attributes, ignoring other significant sustainability questions.
A credible eco-label should have an independent third-party verification, a meaningful, detailed and precise transparent standard, and a robust, balanced process to develop and periodically review the requirements of this standard. Finally, the claims of the eco-label should be clear, specific, and without room for misinterpretation.