These Are the Innovators Who Are Redefining “Sustainability”

There’s a movement underway to fix the system. Here are some of the innovators who are changing the game.

Stacy Flynn

EVRNU

When Stacy Flynn flew to China in 2010, she intended to shake hands on a textile business deal but was alarmed by the haze of blue gas that hovered in the air as she hammered out details of the transaction. As a textile executive for roughly 25 years, Flynn realized she was partly to blame for the poor air quality and vowed to realign her business ethics so they meshed with her personal moral code.

Enter EVRNU, the radical sustainable start-up she founded in 2014 that uses proprietary technology to create new fibres out of recycled garment waste. Imagine a pile of old cotton T-shirts used to birth a brand-new pair of blue jeans. Considering brands like Burberry weathered boatloads of criticism earlier this year for incinerating $50 million of unsold clothing, Flynn’s solution reads like the magic bullet for solving the problem of surplus clothes. (Burberry announced in September that it has stopped burning.)

So far, Levi’s, Target and Stella McCartney have signed on, and EVRNU hopes that clothing made out of their fibres will be widely available by the end of 2019. “Expressing ourselves through our dress has always been culturally significant,” says Flynn. “Keeping our industry safe into the future is the primary objective.”

Read on to learn about 10 more people who are creating new ways to make living sustainably easier.

Cyrill Gutsch

Parley

The “king of environmental collaborations,” Gutsch is the man behind the Adidas fishing-net shoe.

Muhannad Malas

Environmental Defence

Malas works to protect Canadians from overexposure to toxins in daily life, specifically in dry cleaning and personal-care products. He and his team encourage industry action to remove harmful ingredients from consumer products, government action to ban and restrict toxic chemicals through improved policy and work to equip consumers with the knowledge to choose safe options.

Kelly Drennan

Fashion Takes Action

She’s the founder of Canada’s only apparel NGO, changing the way we create and consume fashion by advancing sustainability through educational programs like My Clothes My World and events like Design Forward and the World Ethical Apparel Roundtable.

Anne Rochon Ford

The Nail Salon Workers Project

Rochon Ford is working to protect nail salon workers in the greater Toronto area from the hazards of chemical overexposure, empowering technicians with appropriate tools and an awareness about the related health risks, ranging from skin and respiratory damage to recurrent miscarriages and cancer. Rochon Ford reminds us that not unlike a $5 T-shirt made in Bangladesh, a $25 mani/pedi has a true cost as well.

Lauren Singer

Trash Is for Tossers

Singer is founder of the Package Free Shop and The Simply Co. She’s a zero-waste lifestyle pioneer. (All her waste from the past six years fits in a Mason jar.)

Manu Kabahizi

Ulula

This brand was founded in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster, where communication with garment workers could have saved lives. Ulula’s technologies allow for dialogue, assess employee safety and provide anonymous reporting systems for workers.

 

Jeff Denby

The Renewal Workshop

Denby is saving clothes from incineration by collaborating with brands to re-stream, repair and reuse deadstock and damaged goods.

PJ Smith

Senior manager of fashion policy at the Humane Society of the United States

Smith is the man behind many brands (including Gucci) deciding to go fur-free. He has reformed the supply chains of Michael Kors, VF Corporation, Inditex (Zara), YOOX Net-A-Porter Group, Hugo Boss and Giorgio Armani.

Nicole Rycroft

Canopy

In the quest to eliminate petroleum-based polyesters, trees are being used to create fabrics. Rycroft collaborates with the best brands in the biz—like a real-life Lorax speaking for the trees.

Livia Firth

Eco Age and The Lawyers Circle

Firth is working to establish a global living wage for garment workers in partnership with The Lawyers Circle. She was also executive producer for The True Cost, the ultimate fashion revolution documentary.