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The Dire Need For Sustainability in the Fashion Industry

Sustainability has constantly been on the rise in the fashion industry and the search is on for the perfect solution to end the cost of dead inventory and the environmental consequences of popular fast fashion. Fashion production makes up "10% of humanity's carbon emissions, dries up water sources, and pollutes rivers and streams. What's more, 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year. And washing some types of clothes sends thousands of bits of plastic into the ocean." That’s about 92 million tons of textile waste each year alone. There is a clear issue here that often gets swept under the dirt (literally), and there is a dire need for mass awareness and change. 

I got the opportunity to attend an interview with Stacy Flynn, the CEO and co-partner of Evrnu, and Beth Tyson, senior vice president of EarthShare, an environmental nonprofit organization based in Bethesda, Maryland. Both women have a lot of passion for their careers and a lot more passion for the sustainable fashion movement and the environment as a whole. These inspiring women are working their best to make both the environment and world a better place by their continuous efforts to spread awareness.

[bf_image id="f3r9xhb4wscznxt373f797pz"] Flynn grew up in the heart of the industry in New York and has been making her own clothes since the age of 14. She studied at F.I.T and started as a pattern-making major but then discovered textiles and fell in love with the textile industry. After graduating, she went on to create one of the most innovative sustainable fashion fiber companies, Evrnu.

Have you ever wondered what to do with that old dress dusting away in your closet that you don’t necessarily want to throw away but know you will never wear again? You know you can’t just throw it in a recycling bin and call it a day…or can you?

Evrnu has become the sustainable fashion solution you've been looking for that allows individuals to recycle and transform their old clothes from trash to sustainable treasure. It uses inventive technologies to create regenerative fiber from discarded clothing materials using NuCyle; regenerative fiber technologies that work to create entirely new clothing products from fibers that can be recycled and reused in the future. Flynn has taken on one of the largest and concerning issues in the fashion industry and continues to find solutions that are beneficial to producers, consumers, and the environment as a collective.  

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During the interview, Flynn had a lot to say about the issue of the lack of sustainability in the fashion industry. She explains how the fashion industry is outdated, and a full redesign is underway. Flynn claims that “we all started a beautiful problem throughout our career, but now we can finally start to fix it.”

Covid-19 has been eye-opening for society to realize the concerning condition the fashion industry is in when it comes to caring for the environment, although she wants to remind the public that the fashion industry was broken even before the pandemic. She also recognizes that “the consumer is finally understanding how clothes are actually being made—and how it’s not okay.” We must combine the language of sustainability with the language of fashion and come to a solution that benefits both equations. Luckily with Evrnu, we are one step closer to that solution. 

By using a proprietary process, Evrnu enables the transformation of apparel waste into new and better high-performance materials. One thing that impressed me about the company is that when asked if they saw other companies with the same goal as complementors or competitors, Flynn said, “neither, we see them as a customer.” Flynn wants to turn competition into collaboration, which includes learning from others while providing designers with sustainable textiles and fabrics to transform the industry. Flynn hopes that by the time fashion students like myself become her age, that sustainable fashion will be both the norm and protocol of the industry. 

[bf_image id="q7k35k-ahwtx4-729sc"] Another influential individual that is passionate about the environment and hopes to see change is Senior Vice President of Campaigns and Membership at EarthShare, Beth Tyson. Tyson went to James Madison University in Virginia and studied international business, where she learned about key social issues and later on got into health and human services. Tyson was always passionate about helping people and the environment, although it wasn’t until a trip to California that she realized she wanted to turn that passion into a full-time career.

About twenty years ago, Tyson was driving an SUV up the coast of California, and she happened to be listening to an NPR episode discussing the environment and pollution while looking out the window to see the breathtaking coast that was affected by the same pollution and environmental damage that NPR was speaking about. That is the moment that triggered Tyson to want to know more and immerse herself in the environmental protection movement.

Tyson’s goal is to greatly encourage environmental action and giving throughout the United States. The company she works for, EarthShare, raises money and gives the earnings to over 500 environmental nonprofits that support and protect our land, water, air, wildlife and health. The raised money goes towards environmental issues that surround climate change, water quality, wildlife protection, and much more and EarthShare is proud to maintain a history of delivering more than $300 million in a span of 30 years. Tyson says that climate change is one of the largest and most alarming issues in the environment because of its drastic effect on the planet and wildlife. She also recognizes that the textile industry has a lot of waste that is contributing to a problem that EarthShare is working so hard to change. 

[bf_image id="sfx2jpwkt25bzsjv6f5b2c"] After talking with Tyson, she has truly opened my up eyes and she hopes to enlighten others as well. In the interview, Tyson passionately declared that “this is our one planet we know that sustains life to date and yet we don’t protect it. It is our one life source, and it amazes me how we seem to go about our lives and don’t pay enough attention to something so valuable.” I hope this powerful statement reaches and inspires others to create awareness and change. Although all hope is not lost yet, the favorite part of Tyson’s job is learning about all the great work environmentalists are doing and also helping her colleagues and donors invest in work that creates positive and lasting change. 

After attending valuable interviews with both women, they have collectively inspired me to do my part and make a difference by spreading awareness about environmental issues and potential solutions underway that have the power to create long term change. I hope that you, too, can take a moment to think about how valuable our earth truly is and how to take steps further to protect it. As Stacy Flynn says, “the greatest problems create the greatest opportunity,” and that opportunity depends solely on us as individuals and is created from our love and passion for the planet we get to call our home.  [bf_image id="t7bp2n6q3nhfkjvcqxbsv6"] Learn more about Evrnu and how to contribute to the sustainable fashion movement by visiting https://www.evrnu.com/collaborate. If you are interested in collaborating with or donating to EarthShare, please visit https://www.earthshare.org/donate/.

Caroline Stoaks is a passionate writer for Her Campus. She's currently planning on majoring in Mass Communications with a concentration in journalism. She enjoys running on her free time, any type of art, writing, and relaxing days on the beach.
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