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Willa in the office GREEN

Entrepreneur Willa is dusting off boring sustainable fashion

Rachel founder Rethink Rebels

Hi!
I’m Rachel
You have gifts to
change the fashion 
industry and my job
is to help you
using them.

Read more

We have seen eachother briefly during the soaking wet Climate March in Amsterdam last March. She walked as an activists, and screamed with slogan such as “Let’s get rid of CO2!”. This is not a marketing thing that you often see. Or greenwashing. This is real. This is genuine. Willa is a fighter. She speaks about diversity, feminism and has a sustainable mindset. This woman dares to stand up for those who can’t, fights climate change, is a mother of beautiful son Eloah and oh she also runs her own company W. Green Agency; A sustainable Branding & Communication Agency. Who is this power woman? I want to know more about her and decide to meet her. This is not that easy because she is very busy, as you understand…


Willa Stoutenbeek en Rachel Cannegieter

On the morning of our appointment, she is already enjoying the sun at Coffee Bru in Amsterdam East with a latte. Fabulous as always. I quickly sit down, order a nice fresh juice and fire the first question directly at her.

Sustainability & Fashion, how did this ever start?

“Sustainability has always been present. From the age of nine I was a vegetarian and activist. The real problems started when I went to high school. I just didn’t fit in, the system I didn’t understand. I had ADHD and a high IQ, but school did not succeed.

willa stoutenbeek klein

When I was older I started working in fashion, an easy choice, because both my parents were also working in this industry. I was always the odd one, politically left-winged, with my father making the link between Vivienne Westwood and me. In 2010 I got myself a job at Spice PR, a fashion phenomenon with brands like Nike, Vogue, Bijenkorf, Bulgari, Iris van Herpen and more. This agency is one of the most known in the PR world. After a few years I decided it was time for something new and started working as marketing manager for BlueBlood, the Amsterdam jeans brand that went bankrupt at the start of the economic crisis. I lost my job because of the bankruptcy and got burned out. But in the end it came out much better.

W. Green agency office
Willa in the office GREEN

At the age of 27 I started my own sustainable branding and communication agency, now almost 10 years ago. Quite a daring step and ahead of the time. But here was really my heart “.

What do you want to achieve with W. Green Agency?

“My passion is to lift sustainable brands to a higher level. If we get this space, we can deliver something we have done for Yoni, Afriek or Ace & Tate, for example. For example, we saw that Yoni, a brand that focuses on organic tampons, could express itself much better on social media, so we tackled that. The photo below clearly shows that Yoni is much more than a tampon or simple sanitary napkin, there is really a story behind it.

Yoni organic period products

We are being approached because people think this branding, brand identity, visual identity, positioning and holistic approach are right and want that for their brand too, that’s pretty cool.

W. Green agency stands for Ethics & Aesthetics. Both the inside and the outside of a brand must fit properly. Sometimes this collaboration works better than the next. The more confidence we get from a brand, the better it can come into its own. And you know it’s not about my own ego, I do this for ‘the greater good’ because everyone has to see that sustainable brands are the best choice.

Can you tell more about Ethics & Aesthetics?

Sustainable brands focus more often on the ethics, so on the inside, but much less on the aesthetics, the outside. This is actually due to the fact that the ‘outside’ is perceived as too superficial. However, a consumer decides in a split second or they trust the brand and want to buy it or not. This choice of whether to buy the product is often made based on the outside, and then people zoom in deeper.

Ethics & Aesthetics W. Green agency

Often sustainability has something dusty and if something on the back is 100% sustainable, but has not been designed well enough on the front with aesthetics, then it is by definition not sustainable, because it is not sold. So if your brand is something for which there is no market, you are wasting resources, energy, water, etc. and then it is not sustainable by definition.

A PR agency has a showroom. What do you think about this?

“Years ago showrooms still had a good function, but that really disappeared. In addition, a showroom is simply an extra room that you have to heat and maintain for just a few visits a week and that is not really sustainable.

Moreover, I would like to add that the W.Green Agency does not have the image of a PR agency. PR is really a last layer and with our agency we go much further and deeper. We really want to help build a sustainable model and thereby make sustainable choices for the brand. This goes from office level, business model to branding and communication level. Think of the printer that you choose, the energy supplier, etc. With us it is certainly not a last “PR” layer that we throw over it, no we want lasting impact. ”

How do you combine work with a family?

“It is sometimes tough. Motherhood and W.Green Agency are both a full-time job and finding a kind of balance without sacrificing anyone is a challenge. Eloah, of course, always comes in number 1, but clients also should be given the attention they deserve. In addition, I am very critical, both in work and daily life. That is sometimes difficult for others but also for myself.

TEDx Amsterdam Willa Stoutenbeek
Willa and Eloah

For example, our son Eloah does not eat sugar, meat or fish, and I started giving vegetable snacks instead of fruit snacks. Look, if at some point he decides to eat it all, that’s fine, but I just think about everything very well and read about it. Then I make a choice, and then I stick to it and I am not easy to leave the field. If people around me think differently about this, it can be difficult for them. That is why I express myself with these 3 words Sweet Enfant Terrible. ”

What do you think about the future of the earth?

“I’m not sure. My hope is still there … “, Willa is emotional, and so am I. Fortunately, we have sunglasses on.” I hope we realize that we are now ruining the earth for future generations and that its occurrence is extremely urgent. As a consumer, you no longer have to hide behind apologies that the government or companies should just do it. But we really have to take action ourselves. ” Noticeably the combative activist comes up again.

Fashion Shouldn't cost the Earth

If you have to wait for companies or governments you will be disappointed. Only a few companies take this responsibility and the Netherlands is roughly 14th in terms of sustainability, while we are in 3rd place as the richest countries. I find that bizarre. We are now trying to “live life” for our son. As an optimist, the glass is always half full, but I hope we will make a good choice with the next election. Let us come into more contact with ourselves, know our place in the ecosystem and ensure a sustainable world. Not only do it for yourself, but also for future generations. This allows us to enjoy this world.

When I walk home I feel that I am touched and inspired. Willa, this sweet enfant terrible is a beautiful person. It is pure and real, without frills or layers. I think it’s nice that she dares to be vulnerable, honestly admits that she’s not quite there yet and that she sometimes has trouble making sustainable choices. Like me. Then I realize that during this conversation Willa has taught me that becoming more sustainable is a process and that it is great to grow step by step more and more …

Do you want to know more or do you have questions for Willa or Rachel? Feel free to do that in the comments below. Do you see mistakes? Let us know! Do you want to stay informed? Sign up for our Newsletter or social via Facebook andInstagram.


5 Tips For A Sustainability Report People Actually Read

Rachel founder Rethink Rebels

Hi!
I’m Rachel
You have gifts to
change the fashion 
industry and my job
is to help you
using them.

Read more

Why no one is reading boring sustainability reports? Well, maybe because it’s wrapped in dense corporate documentents that no one cares to read or feel involved in? (including the sustainability professionals from within…). As Mud Jeans does everything different, they completely tackled that boringness and made this sustainability reporting a nice to read filled with rich storytelling features.  We share and highlight 5 tips derrived from their report.

Reporting on sustainability of your organization becomes more important than ever. Investors globally continue to be concerned about climate change risks and the transition to a low-carbon economy. (Read here) But also citizens and potentially customers want to feel good about the companies they buy from. (Read here) Let’s dive into Mud Jeans’ sustainability report and learn why it’s actually being read instead to end up as desk (top) filling material.

Sustainability report Mud Jeans

MUD Jeans is a Dutch jeans brand, BCorp certified, selling circular jeans with recycled and organic content. Their goal is to make 100% zero waste & recycled jeans by 2020.

1. Transparency & Traceability

The first thing what strikes us immediately is that full transparency and traceability is given, no holding back or excuses to share. For instance; they work with 3 supply chain partners only. But also it includes names and locations of factories, locations and even it’s owner names. Also for each product/process each appointed certificate is named and explained. To start the report with interesting environmental rescues, saves and figures are presented. It that shows the massive impact this business makes in a positive way.

Some highlights

WATER: As we might know already, on average about 7000 liters water per pair of jeans is used. MUD Jeans uses 1500 liters of water to produce one pair of jeans, saving 5500 liters per jeans. This amounts to nearly 300 million liters of water in the past 3 years.

CO2: On average 8% of global greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions are produced by the apparel and footwear industries. MUD jeans emits 61% less CO2 than other regular denim brands. 61%! This amounts to 700.000 kilos of CO2 avoided in the past 3 years.

Recycling: 12.000 Jeans are saved from landfill in the past three years.

MUD jeans SDGs

Within MUD jeans’ circular denim, they contribute to achieve the above mentioned SDGs

2. Aligning with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In 2015 all United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and planet. At its core, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been set. These are an urgent call for action by both developed and developing countries in global partnership. “Ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests”, according to the UN members.

Did you know that during the integration of these 17 goals during the COP21 in Paris, the owner of MUD jeans Bert van Son got the opportunity to share their story during COP21 at l’Université de la terre!? Being a BCorp organization, and contributing to several SDGs, MUD jeans is making sure to use their business as a force for good. SDG12 – Responsible Consumption and Production is closely aligned with Mud Jeans’ mission and vision. This goal aims that business activities are developed within a sustainable way of consuming and producing. 

For example with their award winning Lease A Jeans concept, they offer customers a sustainable way of consuming and both it’s sustainably produced. They are creating awareness about the current state of the world in particular to fashion and apparel and they share why they do things in a different way.  Sustainable fashion means long lasting, high quality products that don’t need to change every season. Therefore they set a goal to grow until they reach a production level of 500.000 jeans/year and from there on they will stabilize their growth.

3. Storytelling

Throughout the report pictures and rich stories are being told to inspire the reader. Like above mentioned Bert’s story on his mission on COP21, but also the pictures of the makers are proudly presented and explained. Or on the part of Fair Factories whereas Mr. Habib Ben Mansour, owner of Yousstex International the garment supplier, likes to say that MUD Jeans makes ‘noble products’.

Personally I love the story on a team trip to Spain: “Two years ago, in 2016, Team MUD drove to Valencia in Spain to bring our first 3.000 returned Lease A Jeans to the recycling factory. During this tour we followed the recycling process and witnessed how new denim fabrics were born.” They include some personal pictures of this trip in the report to get a good feeling of how much fun they had, how inspirational it was for them including the interns and it’s clear how much they love to do what they do. 

And that is the power of storytelling: to really inspire and talk to the hearts of the readers. Make them a part of your story and part of the journey. 

MUD Jeans I made your clothes

4. Define Bold Goals

Definately MUD jeans is not afraid to set some heavy and bold goals with a clear time frame. Like their extensive 2020 goals:

– 100% of all components of MUD jeans are designed for recycling

– All fibres used in MUD jeans are preferred fibres as stated by the textile exchange preferred fiber or material benchmark

– By 2020 we want to develop one jeans fabric which is 100% recycled. Ambitious: we know!

– For 2020, through an LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) we will map the complete consumption of water throughout the supply chain and set specific goals concerning reduction.

– We will expand our take-back scheme beyong the free-shipping zone and include more shops to increase the volume of jeans recycled.

…and many more! SMART goals have been set. Now the readers will likely follow seeing you accomplishing these goals!

5. Interact with your stakeholders

Not only does MUD jeans interact with its consumers, retailers, supply chain partners and workers, academia & NGOs (such as Ellen Mac Arthur Foundation, Circle Economy, B Lab, AMFI, Saxion, Fontys), influencers and other denim brands. As we see Bert or his colleagues always interact with their audience during a talk, showing pictures and movies. But also sharing pictures from MUD jeans groupies the love to brag with. Also there is an enormous internal interaction going on at team MUD as well. Did you know they have wednesdays and fridays company runs, drive electric and bake their own bread?

What we really loved to see is their organised webinar to go into detail about their first sustainability report. Eva Engelen, CSR manager at MUD jeans explains it future forward: “With our first sustainability report, ever, we will look at the past and the future. As a circular denim brand and BCorp, we have a big impact, of that we are sure. However, being a scale-up we have not been able to precisely measure this impact, which we will do in the near future. Modern transparency is what we live by. In this light, we are extremely proud and excited to share with you how we strive to be more sustainable and circular.” Check out this webinar! Check out MUD jeans full sustainability report here.

Questions about sustainability reporting and/or MUD jeans? Write them down in our comments below. Do you like this? Perhaps you like our previous article on Australian fashion brand Maggie Marilyn ditching plastic polybags.  Do you see mistakes? Let us know! Do you want to stay informed? Sign up for our Newsletter or social via Facebook and Instagram.


Maggie Marilyn no plastic

Fashion Brand Maggie Marilyn Beats Plastic Polybags. Read here how.

Rachel founder Rethink Rebels

Hi!
I’m Rachel
You have gifts to change
the fashion industry
and my job is to help you
using them.

Read more

How do you know if ‘green’ disposable plastic products, marked bioplastic, biodegradable, or compostable are actually a good choice for planet & people? All the different terms are confusing. We need clarity. And we need it fast.

We all know that plastic is made of artificially created chemicals that don’t belong in our world. Plus they don’t mix well with nature. These plastics are a big source of pollution, in our water and food, creating toxic health hazards for communities as well as killing marine wildlife.

Plastic packaging biodegradable

The Solution To Plastic Polybags

Maggie Marilyn, a sustainable fashion brand from New Zealand uses biodegradable cassava polybags. They are made from the cassava root, vegetable oil, and vegetable polymers and are produced in Indonesia. These bags, created for them by ComPlast, decompose back to nature and dissolve in water. Maggie Marilyn explains “Some manufacturers of petroleum-based bags will add plant-based materials to the plastic and also claim these as “biodegradable”. A very frustrating piece of greenwashing!”

Currently, these bio-based polybags are commercially compostable (99.5% plant material) and they are developing towards home-composting. These bags completely biodegrade back into the environment without creating any type of microplastics (as the petroleum-based plastic do). Maggie Marilyn shares more detailed information on their website and by doing so, they hope to encourage other brands and retailers to demand more on this specific issue that is holding us back from being more accountable to our waste. Sharing = Caring!

Currently, these bio-based polybags are commercially compostable and hopefully soon for home-composting.

Maggie Marilyn ComPlast biodegradable bag from 100% natural products

Recycling bio-based plastics

The volume of bio-based plastics is still too small for separation or separate collection. But hey, isn’t this just like electric cars? At first, nobody bought one because there was no charging point. But then, nobody is going to install charging stations if there are no electric cars… Just the same case with the recycling of bio-based plastics. It’s ultimately up to waste companies to break through that problem. Overall, it is expected that by 2020 the share of bio-based and biodegradable plastics will increase to 2.5% of fossil plastics production (read here more about this). That’s only a half a year away from now…

Facilitate Consumers’ best behavior

Collection and sorting, which starts at consumers and their behavior, largely determine the (energy) efficiency of waste management systems. To facilitate consumers to choose the right route of disposal for packaging waste, pictograms can be used to indicate the preferred disposal route.

New Plastic Economy Ellen MacArthur

Six key points so that plastic never becomes waste

The New Plastics Economy (Ellen MacArthur Foundation) has defined six key points to catalyze change and shift towards a circular economy where plastic never becomes waste:

  1. Elimination of problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging through redesign, innovation, and new delivery models is a priority

  2. Reuse models are applied where relevant, reducing the need for single-use packaging

  3. All plastic packaging is 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable

  4. All plastic packaging is reused, recycled (rPET), or composted in practice

  5. The use of plastic is fully decoupled from the consumption of finite resources

  6. All plastic packaging is free of hazardous chemicals, and the health, safety, and rights of all people involved are respected.

Questions about polybags & plastics? Write them down in our comments below. Do you like this? Perhaps you like our previous article on plastics in a circular economy.  Do you see mistakes? Let us know! Do you want to stay informed? Sign up for our Newsletter or social via Facebook and Instagram.


Plastic Packaging in a circular economy

Fashion Industry: Plastic Packaging in a Circular Economy. Doing it the Right Way.

Fashion Industry: Plastic Packaging in a circular economy; doing it the right way.

The apparel and textile supply chain is tackling the issue with research and innovation, as the problem of plastic waste becomes more critical. Walmart noted that the pros to the use of plastic packaging have not kept up with increases in plastic production, which amounts roughly 500 million tons annually. About 35% of Walmart’s plastic production goes to packaging, most of which is single-use and then discarded. Did you know that less than 14% of plastic packaging is globally recycled?

Did you know that less than 14% of plastic packaging is globally recycled?

The positive environmental effects of using sustainable products are distributed throughout the chain from producers to end users. The CO2-saving effects of, for example, bio-based products are good for everyone and not just for the user. In this way, the costs and the positive environmental effects, are distributed. 

Greenwashing vs. Greenhushing

It’s time to communicate as clearly, informative and transparent as possible about the plastic packaging within a circular economy. There is so much uncertainty about this subject. Much has to do with Greenwashing (appearing more green than it actually is) or Greenhushing (doing green but afraid to communicate about it). Rethink Rebels believe transparency is key and with the right information, you can make the right decisions regarding packaging and communicate about this fairly. 

biomass sugarcane as plastic

Bio-based products are made from biomass such as sugar cane

When a product is bio-based it means that the product is made from biomass such as sugar cane or corn. The sugars are extracted from this biomass and the basic raw material ethylene can be made from this. Ethylene materials are bonded together, creating polyethylene, which is used to make plastic. Note: Ethylene materials are both made from fossil raw materials and from biomass. The end product, plastic, in this case, is identical when it is made from fossil or bio-based raw materials and there is no loss of quality.  

When a product is bio-based, you can’t just throw it into nature.

There is still a lot of uncertainty among users of bio-based products and users think that these products can be broken down in nature. But the reality is that it is a bit more complicated. Let’s look at it more in detail and inform you about the degradation possibilities of plastics.

The degradation possibilities of plastics

Plastics are either fossil or bio-based. Within these 2 groups, there are compostable and not-compostable kinds. Herewith a clear framework to shed some light on this:

Bio Based and Fossil Based plastics overview Rethink Rebels

Source: https://vendrigpackaging.com

Compostable and non-compostable fossil-based plastics

Plastic products are currently made from fossil fuels. And we all know that fossil fuels are finite and produce CO2 during the production of plastic which causes the climate to heat up. Time for innovation and time to look at better options.

A big advantage of bio-based plastics they are CO2 NEUTRAL

The big advantage of bio-based products (biomass/bioplastics) is that they have a different carbon (CO2) cycle than products made from fossil materials: during their growth cycle, they absorb CO2. Therefore these products are seen as CO2 neutral. In theory, it is, therefore, possible to make infinite biomass on earth.

Compostable vs. not compostable bio-based plastics

Bio-based plastics are also called bio-plastics. The difference here is the compostable and not compostable abilities within this group. Compostable bioplastics are either composted industrial (55-60 degrees Celsius and enzymes) or domestically composted (Green trash bin: less high degrees, time and enzymes).  The not-compostable bioplastics should be recycled within regular plastic recycling. The environmental advantage here is that the raw materials are from plants and therefore take up CO2 during their growing process (indifference to fossil-based raw materials).

The packaging industry now lacks rules about what producers should put on their packaging about recyclability.

The current recycling claims on the packaging are often theoretical and can give the wrong signal. For example, packaging made of biodegradable plastic. The consumer thinks that this packaging can be composted or recycled very well. The reality shows that recycling companies are experiencing problems with the recycling of these packaging. In the end, they almost always go into the incinerator.

Ellen Mac Arthur infographic circular economy

Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Circular packaging model

New business models and innovations, using circular economy principles, are transforming traditional take-make-dispose thinking with incredible speed. The fashion industry should be part of the circular economy revolution and committed to making some breakthroughs in packaging waste.

Ideal sustainable packaging should contain

1)      1 sort material (partially made from recycled material)

2)      optimized caps and labels that don’t disturb the recycling of the other materials

3)      Transparent or light color

Source: Duurzaam bedrijfsleven

Sustainable packaging NEWS

If we act now, unnecessary plastic waste will soon be a tale to tell our grandchildren! We will regularly add more news about sustainable packaging for the fashion industry here. Do you want to be kept informed? Subscribe here to our newsletter.