2014 Sustainable Textile Exchange Conference

Textile Exchange Conference

Textile Sustainability Conference 2014

“If you think you’re going to complete your life’s vision in your lifetime, you’re not thinking big enough. -Wes Jackson, American Author


Every year a group of individuals from different companies, armed with ambitious goals, come together at the Textile Sustainability Conference to discuss and better understand the issues facing the textile industry at large. Organized and produced by the Textile Exchange (TE), a global nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating sustainable practices in the textile industry, the conference includes representatives from brands ranging from Target to the North Face, H&M to Patagonia, and yours truly, Coyuchi.


Being amongst product developers, farmers and textile innovators was both inspiring and humbling as it became clear we all share the same challenges: water scarcity, security of organic cotton supply, supply-chain transparency, and worker's safety. With an industry that is known for faster and cheaper, we are constantly challenging ourselves to uphold and exceed our core principles of environmentally responsible production. 


A comment made during an early breakout session by a leader at Blue Sign Technologies reinforced my duties: "People in the textile industry share similar values." The word value struck a chord. Regardless of what role we play in textiles, whether a designer or a weaver, at the end of the day, we are all here dedicating our time to the same values: people, planet and product. I would like to extend this statement to people who purchase from companies that are committed to sustainable practices share this value.


A key takeaway for me was the learning gap between the company and end user. Ed Thomas, Material Science and Innovation Director at Nike gave a great example: A passenger next to him on a plane, excited to sit next to someone from Nike, raving about how cool it is that Nike just introduced a 100% recycled polyester jersey made from water bottles. This was old news to Ed and a reminder that no matter how far past an idea he is, the consumer is just learning about it. Brands have a shared responsibility to increase consumer awareness of where and how fabric destined for apparel and home is grown or made. We must work to tell the story of the cotton plant and remind consumers that cotton is just as reliant on farming and weather as the crops we purchase to eat.


Over the course of the next few months, we are going to dive deeper into key discussions that took place including topics such as bio mimicry, story doing and the Organic Cotton Accelerator. We look forward to sharing our challenges and successes with you; questions and comments are highly encouraged. Thanks for learning with us!



Eileen Mockus, our CEO giving a presentation on "Story Doing"


Conference BHAGS: Individuals were asked to identify their big hairy audacious goals (BHAG) for 2015. We shared these goals and where we are in the timeline to reaching them. Some seemed far off for individuals, others a thing of the past, but for the majority of these endeavors, we shared many of the same goals.


Coyuchi’s BHAGs are:

  • To work closer with our organic cotton supply chain and increase consumer awareness on natural fibers and manufacturing
  • To expand our organic natural fiber offerings
  • To have three products grown, sewn and naturally dyed in the United States


A sample of BHAGs from this year's conference attendees:

  • To create awareness about toxic chemical use and discharge across all stakeholders of the global textile supply chain
  • To continue on the journey to have full traceability from fiber to end product for all of the materials we use
  • To change the entire textile recycling system
  • To have sustainability training modules covering all stakeholders in all global languages
  • To convert to 100% renewable energy use in all our supply chain from fiber to finished product


More about Textile Exchange:

Incorporated in 2002, TE envisions a textile industry that protects and restores the environment while enhancing lives. Headquartered in the Unites States, with staff in eight countries, the organization works to leverage the scale and influence of the textile industry to create significant and sustained change. TE also provides tools and training on the impacts and issues that most affect the future of the industry in order to drive positive change. To learn more about Textile Exchange, visit www.TextileExchange.org.