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Assessing COVID-19’s Impact on Sustainable Fashion and Organic Textiles

Photo credit: We Are HAH for YES AND ( )

There is absolutely no denying that the move toward sustainable fashion and organic textiles has been gaining tremendous traction over the past few years, as consumers look for eco-friendly options.

And findings from the 2020 Conscious Fashion Report published by Lyst, the largest global fashion search platform, confirm this.

Using data generated between February 2019 and February 2020 and collected from Google, global media coverage, social media mentions and Lyst (100 million shoppers), some highlights of the report include the following:

– Since November 2019, searches for “organic cotton” have risen by 23%.

– Sneakers and denim remain two of the most wanted product categories when it comes to sustainable fashion, growing 142% and 108%, respectively.

– Averaging over 1,000 monthly searches, “eco t-shirts” are trending alongside “sustainable activewear,” for which searches are at an all-time high, having increased 151%.

– “Recycled plastic” has seen a 35% rise in interest since January, and the demand for Adidas’ recycled plastic sneakers has resulted in a 305% increase in page views for the brand’s shoes.

– Searches for sustainable fashion grew in these countries: Denmark (+110%), Australia (+53%), Germany (+51%), Spain (+50%), Canada (+30%), UK (+17%) and the U.S. (+15%).

While the evidence for the growth in this area is clear, the data also happens to be pre-COVID-19. What lies ahead is less certain.

As such, consumers may change their shopping habits even if their ethical standards remain the same. Choosing to buy based primarily on cost could become the dominant factor. Furthermore, organic cotton supply chains may become disrupted, similar to what appears to be happening in the food industry.

That being said, organic textile and clothing experts remain undaunted.

“We are talking to the biggest mass-market retailers right now, and they are engaged in a major way,” said Marci Zaroff, founder/CEO of ECOfashion Corp, which owns the organic apparel and lifestyle brands YES AND, Farm to Home and MetaWear. “While they are more resource-constrained and may outsource more of their programs, these companies understand that sustainability is not a choice but an imperative. They know that if they do not embrace organic, they’ll be left behind. With QVC, we are doubling-down with them right now.”

“On the consumer level, Millennials are hungry for companies that are doing the right thing and are supporting workers and the environment. They are not interested in sacrificing their values and purchasing from brands that are polluting the planet. Plus, if organic clothing brands are smart, they can get their costs down to comparable levels. Our YES AND organic clothing is very competitive on price. We view this time as a possible tipping point where consumers move towards sustainable fashion and lifestyle options, seeing organic as more important than ever,” she continued.

Even if demand for organic apparel and textiles continues to grow, the supply chain appears stable and intact, despite the pandemic.

“I don’t see any interruptions in the organic cotton supply chain, and in India, the organic farmers are on schedule,” said Lori Wyman, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Representative for North America. “I don’t see sales letting up either. In fact, I am hearing that orders for organic bedding and sheets are increasing. People are home more these days, and nesting instincts are taking over.”

How COVID-19 will impact the sustainable fashion and organic textile sector over the next few years remains to be seen.

In the long term, however, this industry will undoubtedly continue to gain market share and become the preferred choice for consumers.

Just like organic food.

With gratitude,

Max Goldberg, Founder

Sustainability Spotlight -- REBBL

Sustainability Spotlight -- REBBL

Known for its cutting-edge adaptogenic drinks and support of Not for Sale, a non-profit that fights against human trafficking and exploitation around the world, REBBL recently announced that it is one of the first in the food industry to transition to 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.

The company’s Green Packaging Initiative converts used plastic into new 12 oz. plastic bottles, which in turn conserves resources, reduces landfill and capitalizes on the energy already invested in making existing plastic products.

Completing this initiative was no easy endeavor, from both an operational and financial perspective.

“Cost is the reason why many in the industry are setting gradual goals. For instance, Coca-Cola set a goal of having bottles made with 50% recycled content by 2030. But for REBBL, transitioning to 100% recycled material for our bottles is something we are proud to prioritize,” said Bonnie Neulight, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer.

One of the biggest things that REBBL learned in this process is that the U.S. infrastructure does not currently have an efficient standardized process for recycling.

“Only a small percentage of the country’s ‘recyclables’ actually go through the process because it is actually cheaper to create new plastic rather than use post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic. To create a solution for this, we — collectively — need to create a demand for PCR material. We need to create a market for used goods. If the demand for PCR plastic rises, so will the demand for creating effective and efficient recycling processes,” explained Bonnie Neulight.

This Week's News Items

Weekly News Summaries

First Course

Organic Farmers are Worried About Going Under

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner

Americans may soon see less selection and more expensive food in the coming months.

Food Navigator

PowerPlant Ventures on Plummeting Valuations and the Coming Shakeout

By Elaine Watson

Venture capitalist Mark Rampolla discusses a very different environment that is ahead of us.

Second Course
Civil Eats

Change to Federal Rule Could Expose More Farmworkers to Pesticides

By Chris Richard

The EPA has proposed dropping a rule requiring safety zones when spraying pesticides, just as farmworkers are deemed 'essential' during the pandemic.

Food Navigator

USDA is Easing WIC Requirements for Retailers and Brands

By Elizabeth Crawford

Due to food shortages, the USDA is making it easier for low-income participants in the Women, Infant and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program to fill their grocery carts.

Third Course
Business Insider

Organic Brands are Embracing a New Sustainability Certification

By Marguerite Ward

Companies such as Numi Tea and Bread Alone have become Climate Neutral Certified.


NOBL Beverages Acquires MATI Energy, Will Relaunch Brand

By Brad Avery

New Hampshire-based NOBL Beverages has acquired defunct energy drink brand MATI for an undisclosed sum and plans to relaunch the organic drink line this year.

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This Week's Quick Hits

Quick Hits

* Tomorrow from 11am EST to 4pm EST, the National Organic Standards Board continues its Spring 2020 Meeting online.

* How Simpli is supporting small quinoa farmers in Bolivia is really inspirational.

* The new magazine from Patagonia Provisions is fantastic!

* A cool profile of Stephen Williamson, founder/CEO of Forager Project.

* Kathleen Delate and Chris Currey, horticulture professors at Iowa State University, have released a video Gardening While Isolated: Starting Your Garden from Seeds.

* The Organic Farming Research Foundation and Organic Seed Alliance have extended their deadline for the National Organic Producer Survey until June 1, 2020.

* Jon Tester, an organic farmer and Democratic senator from Montana, discusses how he is addressing the very worrisome epidemic of farmer suicides.

* Levy’s has introduced a new line of organic, hemp guitar straps.

* After 16 years of being in effect, South Australia has lifted its GMO ban. Not good.

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