September 02, 2021
Fashion has always been cyclical, reusing older trends and updating them ever so slightly. But technology is pushing cyclical fashion to become circular, meaning that the useful life of garments extends indefinitely. Those old t-shirts or jeans you wore 15 years ago, or the ones your parents had way before that, can now become part of your current wardrobe again.
Fashion has always been cyclical, reusing older trends and updating them ever so slightly.
But technology is pushing cyclical fashion to become circular, meaning that the useful life of garments extends indefinitely. Those old t-shirts or jeans you wore 15 years ago, or the ones your parents had way before that, can now become part of your current wardrobe again.
Faith Legendre, the owner of the circular economy advisory company, Afire Consulting, explains to Cory during this episode of the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Podcast, “...they make 2 million black size two shirts [and] it’s bad for the environment. It’s bad for the psyche.”
Let’s look at how technology and fashion are colliding for a more sustainable future of the fashion industry by decreasing wasteful production and increasing personalization.
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Cory Ames 0:07
Hey y'all. It's Cory here with the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcasts more back again here with our special series on the impact of fashion wear with our partners at Donna, we are exploring the social, environmental and economic challenges facing the fashion industry. And today, I'm speaking with faith le genre to talk about the future of the fashion industry and the convergence of technology, and how the two will help advance a more circular economy really in inspiring conversation with faith. She's a circular economy solutions strategist who believes that we can bring the global circular economy to fruition by strategically implementing people and technology at the right points in the interconnected loops. I think it's so common to feel anxious and overwhelmed with the gravity of what needs to be changed what needs to be shaken, for us to advance into a more sustainable, more evolved economic system. But as I did, I think you'll leave this conversation I had with faith feeling more inspired, more hopeful, certainly more tenacious, and positive about the direction we can headed. And so we'll jump into this conversation shortly. But before we do if you have not yet I would love if you signed up for our Better World weekly newsletter. This is our weekly newsletter that I write, curate and publish myself send this out every single Monday to our community of changemakers, and innovators from all sectors all over the globe. We now have almost 3000 folks getting this email in their inbox every single Monday to join in on that discussion, go to grow ensemble.com backslash newsletter, again, that's grow ensemble.com backslash newsletter. So here we go. Our conversation with faith, the genre on the circular economy of fashion, the future of fashion, and technology.
Faith Legendre 2:21
Thanks for the pleasure and the honor of being here, Cory, I appreciate it. Talks about this pretty important topic here, right fashion and the global climate. I'm Paisley genre, and I'm coming to you from my home office here in Long Island. It's a little bit outside of New York City. And I love helping out startups on up to larger companies around the circular economy.
Cory Ames 2:44
I'd love for you to share a little bit more because the circular economy is really such a broad all encompassing. Space. Where are you specifically focused in this movement to advance a circular economy.
Faith Legendre 2:58
It's interesting, because my clients are pretty broad. But for the fashion industry, I've been helping out Donna Inc, Shawnee, Donna, from the done in company, I think that she's really disrupting the industry. And then she's the only one really out there doing full circularity. With her D Sphere platform. She's using technology in a really unique way to connect up local designers to make sure that all the textiles that are going to landfill now that in the future, that won't happen. So for example, when you log on to D sphere, you can select from your own closet, which I think is just such a brilliant idea. I'm 48. So I have a lot of clothes right from over the years. And not necessarily am I going to wear my freshman college t shirt.
It's really sentimental, right? blending that into an item of clothing. And saving those memories is just so super cool to me. And I think that's what needs to happen to disrupt the industry. To make it circular is right now is so funny. The other day I was sitting down with this young lady and she had a special event at her school. She's I think she's 16 years old. And she said it's breast cancer awareness and I get to get a pink t shirt. So she was surfing on Amazon. And her parents were like, Well, why don't you borrow one from a friend that might have more than one? Or why don't you look in your own closet to see what you have. I think that's what we need to do more of. And it was interesting, because she said, Oh, look, there's one here. And it's like $5 And I said, Why do you think it's $5? And it was a real eye opener. I think for her. She hadn't seen the movie true cost. I hadn't shared that with her yet. And I said what do you think that's made out of and where that was made? Do you think that those people were paid a livable wage? Do you think they Have a safe place to work? Do you think that there was any child labor involved in the making of that shirt? And they just wanted to ask the questions in a Socratic way to get her to think, because it is a true cost and that $5 And that cost is on humanity. It's on our planet. And a lot of people say, oh, you know, well, the plan is going to be you're absolutely right. We're doing all of these things to become more circular. Because there's future generation, I want to ensure that fashion is fully circular, so that all generations to come, they don't have soil that has been depleted from growing mass amounts of cotton for textiles, they don't have dyes that are full of chemicals that are in the water, everything that we wear gets rinsed off, right, it goes right into our aquifers, it goes right into our water. And then we use that water on our plants. So we're eating everything. So I would say to people, do you feel comfortable with chemicals that are on that $5 shirt, you're sweating, and you're breathing that in? It's just interesting, because I think that people are starting to think and see, everything's connected, everything's connected in nature, and everything's connected back to us. And so if we're really conscious, and we don't over produce, there's enough textiles in the entire world right now, to clothe everybody in the world, and even the new billions of people that are coming for decades to come. We don't need to make anything I always say, Never buy new. That's what I love about what Xiaomi is doing, because it's taking what's already in your closet. And it's also taking all of this thing called deadstock. And everybody that I talked to that's outside the fashion issue, they don't understand it. They're like, wait a minute, what do you mean? Don't they use up they make just somehow because it's, it's costly? They don't say absolutely not. The fashion industry has been burning for a long time. At incinerators, brand new textiles, I just think that those are resources, people say, well, it's wasted energy. But I think if we keep doing waste to energy, they will just have a giant planet of a poof of energy and nothing left at all. That's what happens. It's where those resources go to die. So when we keep these textiles in use, because they can be kept in us that beautiful navy blue shirt that you're wearing, that can be kept in use for decades. And it can turn into different things, you'll say, Well, it's the trends and it's fashion. And I love fashion. Because for me, when people get up in the morning, and they put on something, they're like a blank slate, and they're just painting that canvas. And it's their form of expression. And I think we need that because art is part of life. But we need to do it in a really conscious way in a really circular way. When you're no longer in need of that shirt or it doesn't fit the style. Let's use a local designer to redesign it to remap it. And you can be part of that process too. That's what I love about DC I can click and I can drag textiles and deadstock from Stephanie Benedetto, the queen of raw she's here in New York because you know, I only have a few of those old college T shirts left that I want to put in and I have some sleeves that maybe you know I want to pick a different fabric for. And she's saved all of these textiles from landfill and from incineration. And they're beautiful. They're striped, they're plaid, they're Paisley they're plain colors, they're different styles so you can express yourself. So if you don't have it, you know in your closet, you can pick and choose and click and drag and make your circular t shirt and you can accompany that deadstock around or your favorite college t shirt or concert t shirt. For for me Korea, my grandmother. She wasn't a great Sower. But she loved to sew. I mean she was always sewing in fact, when we had to go over into the nursing home before she passed that she's like Just leave me with my sewing machine just you can take everything else but leave it with my sewing machine. And she would sit there and she would she take old jeans back before it was cool years ago and she would cut off the bottoms and save that fabric because she would do something else with a leader. And I just remember her wearing it with a little pocket book. It was the jeans it was a top part of the jeans. And she put a little like a little strap around it and then she put her glasses and our little phone in the pockets because they were already made right and then she put like this she had to use always go to thrift stores and collect all these like rope and ribbons and stuff and she sewed this top on it and I was like that's just the coolest bag Nana. She was always making stuff and so when she passed away, my sister had cleaned out her place and she said there's some little pink sweatpants and she'd cut off the bottom because she liked a little crop pants or a little sneakers and she had sewn on this little stripe pocket from another remnant piece of fabric and I had him hanging in my closet and this is before I have met so many. And then I thought, What do I do with these pants like, I cannot throw them away, I don't even want to give them away. Because they mean so much to me. You know, I remember sitting on my grandmother's lap when I was younger, and she always wore these she just was, she was making athleisure wear cool before it was athleisure wear cool. Now, she is always in a little sweat pants, but you know, had a little like fancy pocket on it.
So I don't want to get rid of that. But I'm blending that memory of my grandmother into my circular memory jacket with Shami, donna, donna D sphere, app. And I'll have that forever. And then I'll pass it on to I don't have kids, but I'm going to pass it on to people I know that are one of my mentees that's younger, a lot younger than me. And I know that she'll love it. And she'll carry on that memory and then pass it on to someone that will appreciate it as well. So it's this whole combination of culture, art memories, really appreciating the fashion mixed in integrated with the technology. So that you can I mean, I was so blown away, when somebody first showed me the spirit, she said, just click whatever little square of fabric, how the system intricately knows, okay, we have just or not that right amount of fabric to go in that spot in that width and depth and everything. And you just click and drag it and you design it. And I'm not a great designer. My dad was an artist, but I didn't seem to inherit that piece. So I'm going to use the one of the designers that I like, that's part of the sphere as well, that's local. And it's about creating jobs for artists and designers. It's about connecting community, and also being really responsible with our textile resources and keeping those consistently at use. I just think that is the perfect combination.
Cory Ames 11:43
I mean, the reason that we're here faith is because we're talking about the impacts of fashion, these rich experiences that it seems you have in connection to various clothing items that you had as well, the earlier story, you mentioned the impact of sharing with that young person, the true costs of a $5 garment. It's still very impactful information right now. So we're here having this conversation because we aren't where we need to be things aren't as circular as we hope they were the culture isn't where we hope it would be. Why do you think we aren't there yet? Why aren't there more show many Donna's in your example there? What's the gap for us? Why aren't we all you know, sharing a similar experience and appreciation that it seems you've had in different instances chomedey
Faith Legendre 12:33
is taking advantage of the convergence of technology, culture and the situation. In a good way. She's built this company up over 12 to 13 years. So it wasn't a fly by night startup. She's really thought it through she became a B Corp. She's done everything the right way. I think the larger organizations, it's so hard for them that I work with, they're not nimble. That's the first thing they say to me. We're not nimble, they're so deep seated in the supply chains that are using chemicals that are horrible to say, but I worked with an organization and they said we'd go to do audits. And they would hide the kids, they would hide the child labor, when we went to do the audits, that they're so deep seated in the supply chain. I mean, they have contracts, some of those contracts or multiple year contracts, they can't even get out of them. It's part of the financing. I think that's the other thing to be cautious of the low cost item of clothing. It's going to impact all of us, from a humanity perspective, how we treat each other with respect and dignity and from a planet perspective. The other thing too is you'll say, well, there's this whole cultural thing to carry that will give it to Goodwill. I'll give it to the Lupus Foundation. They send me these little cars and they say we're going to be in your area, put your clothes out 90% of what gets donated goes to incineration or landfill 90% in pretty much every area in the world. That happens. Do you think about all those resources, someone took time to design that so it took time to grow the cotton. Someone took time to make that too so it someone took time to dye it. It was shipped the carbon emissions of shipping. So I love Oh Donna, she's using local designers local you know where the local I'm like what's in my area? What is Stephanie betta detto have here in New York, right? I can reduce that. There's so many textiles. I live, you know here and I see the waterways. I ask people what's coming in on the freight liners. You know, it's coming on the freight liners. I think the second most important thing in New York City is hangers, metal hangers. And then you have tons and tons and tons of textiles. I had to use the restroom in this outdoor mini mall like we stopped somewhere and I walked past this store. You know they Have a lot of the high end brand stores. And I just looked in and I thought, wow, I hadn't been in a store like that. And I always buy secondhand or trade with friends, you know, exchange with my sister, like, do everything else. And I just walked by, and I was like, wow, how arcane is this? We're living in 2021. This is so arcane, and it was people just trying on different things. And they didn't write this wasn't made for their body. And so this is another level of why the make 2 million black size two
shirts is wrong is bad for the environment. It's also bad for the psyche. I just watched for, you know, like they were trying pulling it over, like, Oh, I'm just just too much here. And it doesn't fit me here or there. And I thought to myself, that's because we're living in these arcane fashion times of spray and pray. I heard this woman that was in fashion for many years. And she was with this awesome group called 11 radius. And there are a circular fashion group that great about information sharing best practices. And she was sharing something she's like, I went overseas. And so how many of these green sighs bras do you make? And they said, Well, we make 2 million in the green in that size, and 4 million in this size. And I thought to myself, Wow, this is, again, this arcane, we have technology that can scan your body that knows you. You don't have to waste your time. I think shopping is a waste of time. You think about all the other things you could be doing, enjoying time with friends having a glass of wine or some delicious food and talking about life and having a picnic and going on a hike. Instead of being in an air conditioned store that just has piles and piles and piles of stuff, I got anxiety, I looked at the stack of the white sweaters and the stack of the black sweaters and this people flipping through in a still there's nothing there for them. This is a mismatch that technology can answer. If you work with a designer that makes the item based on your body shapes, size, indentation, that's what real design is. That's what real fashion is. And then using the deadstock. And using the textiles we already have and using what's already in your closet, that's what the future of fashion is going to be. It'll be more relevant to you make you feel best when it arrives. It fits like a glove, you just put it on, you're like yeah, this this is I don't have to go get this tailored, right? It's, the sleeves are too long, I don't have to return it in, we have a lot of people return things I like I'm gonna buy four sizes, and then whatever I don't need, I'm gonna return. And those returns, they get incinerated, they get put to second hand and then to landfill. Wow, this is again arcane, the whole ecommerce system that we have, because we're not again making to that person specific body shape, which we can do. The technology is all there. There's amazing technology for body scanning, for mapping to the design for helping the designer and then the designer does those last minute tweaks and making something beautiful that fits you and your body shape. So you don't have to sit there in a store flipping through for five hours like do they have one that's indented like this? Or do they have one that has buttons like that? Let's design it from scratch, right from the get go the way that you want it to fit you with the textiles that we already have in the world because there's no need to make any new textiles.
Cory Ames 18:28
There's so much in there. For me. I think one thing you mentioned earlier on some of the inevitable costs of scale in some of these very large multinational business models as it relates to the space of fashion. For me, it then leads itself to what's neat is is ultimately like a complete reimagination of this industry, our relationship to fashion because just from the standpoint of there being inventory, as opposed to something that isn't what do you need? And what's going to fit you what's going to be something that's very valuable quality and durable, to where we can have that relationship to where made the order makes so much sense, as well. questions come up for me, because you've mentioned a lot of wonderful names there. We just recently published an interview with Monica Park and machine fancy from 11 radius. And I'm actually scheduled here for Monday to speak with Stephanie from Queen of Ra. So I'm looking forward to that. But one question that's coming up for me now, as we've started to have more of these conversations on circular fashion economy specifically, is what do we imagine happens if we don't need to make any new textiles? What happens to the space of this industry, the agricultural component of this industry? And I'm not sure what the answers are, but I'd be curious to hear what perhaps your perspective is how maybe the future of fashion might have to evolve, if that's something that we don't want to have interest in for the sake of preservation and conservation of our resources and and everything else I
Faith Legendre 20:00
serve on a board here and which means I get my hands dirty at a local organic no till sustainable regenerative farm, I'm fascinated by soil. So grows everything right, including our textiles. The world is getting so many more billions of people. And we are already running out of food. Food scarcity is huge water and food scarcity is huge for so so so so many people. So if we can nurture that soil that they were growing cotton on and transition it to grow food, there's going to be a massive demand for food. So helping those farmers do transitions, I think to organic, sustainable no till growing, regenerative farming, there's people united states that that's they work for the USDA, and they teach people regenerative farming, and they show them Look, when you're using the pesticides, this is all you can grow. And look, how do you just have dry dirt unsustainable dry on nutrient rich dirt, and look it over here, the regenerative farm right next to it is just thriving because they're growing at different kinds of wheat and amaranth and things that the cows eat, and then the cows poop. And believe it or not, that is gold, because that's what nourishes that soil. And then that's what creates nutrients for the food that we eat. We've done so much monocropping, for textiles, for food, that our soil is just so depleted by talking to a biologist that said, the orange that you eat today, you're getting four of them, because it has so much less nutrients. So your grandfather only had the one of those oranges. Now you have to eat for because the soil is just so depleted. I know, in certain parts of India, when I was talking to some of my friends, they are transitioning some of the textile cotton areas to regenerating the soil and changing those to grow organic food. And that's it certified organic, it's blockchain and the government is making sure with the block chaining, it's just really a neat model. You see that happening in different places. And it's feeding the people that in the area in the community, and then also goes to the stores and whatnot. So I think we need to turn to regenerative farming, not farming for textile, agriculture, and teach those people that this is how you take care of the soil. This is how you can transition. And this how you can grow different things. Regenerative farming does have livestock, they naturally know to move I grew up next to a cattle farm. And the cows will say like in one area, and they'll eat the different things is important for them to eat those 80 Different kinds of grains that the farmer has grown in that area because it creates such nutrient dense soil. And then they know not to go back to that area for six months or so it's built into their brain. And they go to the next year and they make sure that microbiome was okay in the woods there and they go to the next area and you just do this rotation, we do it in a small way. In the local one acre farm that we have here that I support, we have a little chicken coop and the chickens, we just keep moving them to the different spots to make sure that they keep replenishing the soil. It's just that nature knows how to take care of itself. And if we work within nature, I don't think nature meant for us to grow textiles. I think nature meant for us to grow food for all the beings on earth.
Cory Ames 23:11
This thing that came up for me and I was having a conversation following one of one of these recordings and we're reasoning through it a friend of mine in Ireland. Well if we you know truly do move to a circular economy Are there parts that were supporting it that are then left out? There's things that I'm okay leaving behind. I'm less interested about large multinational corporation profits and success. Personally, I like small and midsize businesses a lot more shorter,
Faith Legendre 23:36
localized supply chains with small businesses. That's the future
Cory Ames 23:40
that is so much more culture rich to me. Personally, I love that aspect of it. But then I start getting into the thought of because we have such a globalized economy. Now, there are these communities that have become quite dependent on different parts of these international supply chains, multinational supply chains. And so that was the question that was proposed as what happens to agricultural workers. The fashion industry specifically, that's a solution that I'm on board for I have become very interested in soil. My wife and I have started to homestead here on our half acre in San Antonio. And coming across the regenerative agriculture movement is this weird thing of like, yeah, if left to its natural ways, nature will take care of itself. But now with all this inertia and momentum that we've built up in a way that's perhaps not as natural as it should be, we do need to break down many of these well established patterns and ways to open ourselves up to something I want to say new but it's not so much new. It's just as it was
Faith Legendre 24:41
going back to our roots literally. Yeah. and job training. I used to work back in the 90s furniture Job Training Council. And it reminded me that it was a lot of retraining people's jobs who are no longer needed. We had a federal grant from the government and we would have $10,000 to retrain that person in it. New job that was going to be needed. And I think you always need that. And I think startups kind of get that they're like they're constantly innovating. They're constantly retraining their people to learn new things to adjust. I think if you don't, that's a problem. So you were sewing and you were sewing this same navy blue shirt, 4 million of them, you and your colleagues here, let's now retrain you with a deep sphere system to be a designer. And think of how much more exciting that would be transitioning to working one on one with somebody to learn about, hey, this was the sweat pants that my Nana, you know, made. And so the little pocket on to, and can you help me incorporate that into this t shirt or into this jacket, or these pants, it's modern, it's fresh for today. Just think of the creativity that will let loose. Think of the joy that will bring instead of this robotic make 10,000 of these make 1 million. Just think of the human kind connection there. And how an unleashing the creativity of the minds of these people that have been slogging through making that seem the losers game like losses, as I'm sure they don't want to make another ruffle. Just think of the mindful connection and learning the new design techniques, saying I have these old buttons from the 40s that we have here. And we saved them. And I think we can incorporate it into your jacket or your blouse this way with your circular fabrics. This whole connection of art Do you know it's like Etsy, right? You know, but on zero, it's, it's this whole, really connecting to the designer and the designer is working with you. And it's this beautiful dance, where you're expressing. I can't wait to work with a designer. Because when I put these together I'm so dissatisfied with. But I just love when someone designs. And they'll say Oh, well just put this piece here and put this piece here. And I'm like, oh my goodness, I would have never, I just I just don't think that way, how exciting that would be for both parties for me as a customer to talk through. And what a special treat, right? Just think of how many designers will need. Its democratizes it right? Right now you have the big brands, and they say you know what this is what's in style. They get five designers. And those designers determine what we're all wearing. We all have such unique personalities. We all have different likes and colors and textures and things that are meaningful to us. And so now working with that local designer, they can help bring out my expression. Instead of someone telling me on a non democratized way, this is what's in vogue, and this is what you're going to wear. I just think the future is going to be so much more colorful. Or maybe not maybe someone wants to be totally monochrome. I have a friend like that loves everything gray loves where love just loves Gray, love everything gray. Cool. So that's how they express themselves. But it's just think, training people to bring out their creativity, to learn to interact and learn to ask people questions so that they can pull out that person's desires and their vision and then make that vision come to life.
Cory Ames 28:21
I'm wondering, Where's the tipping point for us faith? Is it smaller brands beginning to adapt and implement more of this technology that we have here we have available to us? Is it consumer awareness or advocacy for a particular new way of being and engaging with our clothes? And in our economy? Where do you think the tipping point is to this more colorful or monochromatic depending on personal reference future that you think is available to us?
Faith Legendre 28:51
I think it is awareness. It's just it's one person at a time. When you have a friend that says oh, I need to go to an event and you want to go shopping with me say you know, what? Could we use a local designer that may not have any work right now? Could we work with them to take what you have in your closet and design something that'll be so cool for that party, because no one else will have it? How embarrassing it is you show up and it's like, oh, three other people have the same thing on as you and now you're again, it's that psyche things for especially for I know, for women, I hang out in a lot of women's circles. And this body image and just like seeing the same thing on somebody else and how it looks different. It can be psychologically damaging. But when you're wearing something that is just made for you, and out of that deadstock and out of those views, textiles, and it was designed for you mindfully, like you're going to rock it and you're going to walk in and no one else is going to have that. And that's going to be it's just against this uniqueness of you that emerges and you'll feel like so much better. I keep telling challenging I'm like would it be cool if we had like an invisible you just scan your phone like a little QR code? RFID tagging it over that section and then the story pops up. And then the person's like, oh my gosh, I didn't know that this pink sleeve that's from your grandmother's pants that she sewed. Like, tell me more about your grandmother, it's conversation starters to the tipping point. It's gonna take a little bit, but it's just every person you talked to like the conversation I have with that young lady that wanted to just, I need a pink shirt, do you really like, wear something really cool for breast cancer awareness, right? Create something yourself. So something yourself if you're, you enjoy sewing, put it together, or work with a local designer, with the textiles, we already have to make something really cool. That's unique to you. And I think that's when when we change that cultural mindset, that will happen, but it is education, its culture. I think the big brands too, I challenge every big brand, that the next fashion runway they do, that they don't use a single new thing that they take only textiles that were already created. I would love it if they take last season's items, and textiles. And then they transform them what a challenge that is. And then get feedback from the community and local designers around that. I mean, I've seen a couple of those, whether they design out of trash, and that's pretty cool. I think two are the design, you know, out of Doritos bag, which I think this convergence to of textiles doesn't have to be cotton, right? It can be lots of different things I saw one made out of tires, which I thought was really interesting. I've seen them again made out of the no milk containers. I remember when I was little, I used to take the outside of the cheese red cheese wax, and I would make it malleable in my hands. And then I would morph it into a little sculpture like a little rabbit or something. And just transform instead of throwing it away. I just think that if we look at all the things that we consider trash today, that tipping point will be when we no longer have any more trash. And that all of that trash is just fully its circulars that interconnection. So right now we just look at textiles as this fabric. We've done a little bit with it with PE t like plastic. So a lot of our athleisure wear wicks away the moisture it's made out of you know some of the old plastic bottles and things like that mourn again, Cindy would be great person to interview Cindy rose worn again, where she's taking the textiles. And when they're just no longer you can't make them into anything else and breaking them apart. So say the plastic was like this, and then the fiber was wound around it. She has a way that's patented to take that apart so that you can reuse the plastic pellets for packaging or so again, it's an interconnection now of the circularity in the interconnected loops, the loop doesn't have to let it close loop is nice. The same clothing company uses the same clothing over and over again. But I think the interconnected loops are even more powerful between the packaging that you could use, I love what she's doing it worn again, because it's now this can go back into some packaging, for shipping or whatever. And now this textile can go back into textile, or be made into something else be made into car seats, I really want the auto industry to start using textiles for their seats. There's tons of leather that's out there. There's tons of fabrics, gorgeous fabrics. I just can't wait till we have a seat by design my seat with my old textiles from my closet just inset extension, right into different things or my couch. I just think that would be super cool.
Cory Ames 33:26
I'm wondering in the example of a fashion show, or auto industry manufacturer, these are a lot of very large companies in posing that challenge. Maybe you've had actual conversations like these, I'm interested to know and you don't know have to name any specifics. But what are the points of resistance? Because I'm imagining is it just it's the way that we've always done it is create new things and make our products out of that because they might be lacking this agility that worn again has Shawnee Donna has, what are the points of resistance to doing something like that accepting a challenge when they certainly do have resources. One way or another. I'd be interested if you have any insight to that.
Faith Legendre 34:12
I think it's just changing the meaning of changing manufacturing lines as well. You have to think a little bit different, but they already are. There's an auto manufacturer company, and they have seven vegetables in their car. This is one of the largest in the world. The phone in their seats, I think is soy. So there's some there they use tomatoes. There's a woman I forget her name in Brooklyn, but she's looking into that kind of stuff. Shaman, he turned me on to one that they take from the wine industry, the grape skins and they make a fabric out of that again as these interconnected loops like the grape skins are a waste they usually compost them just kind of throw them out. Could we make something into you have funny I went into the store and I asked for them in person was like I don't really know what you're talking about the pine attacks. So the pineapple companies they discard the outside the pineapple on the top. It's really tough material, right? And when you kind of make that malleable and break it down the right way, they're making sneakers out of it. I just think, again, when we interweave what's wastes for one, that's what nature does. You look at biomimicry, the waste of an output of one is the input of another. And if we can make that connection, and really look at nature, and how nature does it, what's the waste of this nature? And how do they use it? I think we can create those interconnected loops and those connections.
Cory Ames 35:31
It's like, it's a different part of your brain that triggers when you mentioned something like that, to me to where taking this this byproduct of pineapple waste and turning it into something like sneakers, like that just makes so much sense. But it's almost like it you're seeing a dog drive a car or something where you're like, No way like really, but it is a very simple thing. And I'm always endlessly fascinated with that. And sometimes to the point to where the people who are making the product or whatever, like yes, no, it just makes a lot of sense. Because oftentimes, they have this kind of more engineer analytical technical thing, like, yeah, why would this be waste? Because in another way can be very useful. I'm like, No way. Like, how, how does that even work?
Faith Legendre 36:11
Yeah, how does that word like, what's it like? It's just amazing. I think the other thing too, that you talk a lot about fast fashion on your site, and I recommend everybody go to your site, because I was like, you have some really cool people that you've interviewed. I always tell people sustainability circularity. It includes social justice. It is intertwined 100%. And I love how you did that with some of your sessions. It's just interesting, because, again, back to that biomimicry, I was walking the other day, and it looked down at the soil. And I think everything in there, that one teaspoon of healthy soil, there's more micro healthy organisms than there are people on the planet. And the soil makes it work. Right. So how can we make it work? Right? There's got to be a way I just think we're so infancy, I think we'll get there. It's just it's a learning process. It was the industrial age, and it was all about like mining things and making new and this throwaway society, and morphing into that circular society. I think that's like you said, it's gonna be typically it's gonna take some time I I'm inspired, though, by all these startups around that are doing it. I'm also inspired by there's larger companies that are doing innovation. And they're supporting the smaller startups, which I think is really cool, like, Unilever, they have, I mean, you can talk about Unilever, where all the big companies, they have a section of their site, and it's all the smaller companies that are doing circularity. And I looked at a couple other other big fashion brands, I don't see the same thing. I think there's an opportunity there for them to partner to do the same thing. So like dynoed used to be called Dan, and in the United States, now they switched the name to denote. And they have something called manifesto ventures. And it's their innovation. And that's where like they worked with local farmers and they can't come up with new products. I think the fashion companies, they do it a little bit, I see them at some of the circular events, and they're starting to partner with some of the smaller companies. But I think they do like a lot more. The smaller companies are more nimble, they can prototype faster. They don't have these big, clunky, deep seated contractual supply chains. I just think that these larger companies, if they do partner with these smaller companies, it's it's a benefit for both. It's a symbiotic relationship, like in nature, there's these symbiotic relationships. So it's like the giant will the beast, you know, are the animal in the in Africa, and they have the little birds that kind of sit on their backs and eat the little ticks off. And they keep the flies off. So they know that it's like the smaller companies that beautiful little white bird that's so useful. And then you have the larger animal and it's this symbiotic relationship and there's a lot better symbiotic relationships. I'm sure my biomimicry mentees would correct me to be like this is a better example. I just think that a lot more that needs to happen in order for this shift in it. It is also it's, again, it goes back to education, we need to be teaching circularity between the ages of two and seven, because between two and seven, the developmental nature of the brain that will last through the rest of the lifetime. So for teaching circularity in the science class, I have a few science teachers I know. And they're teaching circular economy, to their grammar school students and to high school students. Also incorporating into college as well. When you go for your MBA, you should learn about circular business. What is circular business? Why is it beneficial? Because there's a reason why the second word is economy. It's good business sense to do these things. The other thing I want to mention too, is resources. So resource black people don't know. There's a diagram that shows when we'll be running out of each one of the resources that are in every single one of our products. And that wheel is when I used to speak across the world. I used to just start with that We'll, and I will start with costs too. So how costs have gone up because for example, there's an element that's in the screens that we're looking at right now, we're running out of that. And we've run out in some areas completely. And so the cost of your products is going to go up. So if you look as if you're a fashion company, and you look at what's going into your fabrics, it is more costly to make that and it's going to get more costly as labor goes up as the resource constraints increase. So you're better off to make from the used, right, it's like this endless stream of textiles that we have, that we could be utilizing. It's just eventually it will catch up. And we have to be careful those resource constraints, because you'll run out of that indigo dye who might just or something else that is part of your product. And so you have to look at that cost piece as well. And look at all of that and say, you know, what, if we're not making from new, we're not paying people to pick the cotton, to grow the cotton to transform that to weave the cotton to,
to then dye the cotton to then sew the like, could we be just transforming the 3000 blue shirts that were made last year? Right? Could we just be transforming those, and that into something a little bit different, you know, with some of the buttons that we have from 20 years ago with some of these other fabric, I just think that it's it's better for business, and it will become even more so because of the constraints. And also the laws as well. If you look at the green New Deal in Europe, it's circularity is built into that you will be paying fines or you will be paying increased cost if you are not circular. It's the public policy. It's the education. And it's also changing the culture. And then implementing using technology to layer over that to make the circularity happen.
Cory Ames 41:58
I love that example of starting to really grasp the gravity of what that means to to run out of particular resources. There's one campaign I think in the last year or so done by New Belgium Brewing a certified B Corp brewery who they had for a limited amount of time, listed their their six packs and convenience stores or $100, or something like that, to say this is ultimately what the cost of production would be forecasting out to some future time period when you know, water would be harder to obtain. And in therefore the agricultural process would be quite expensive. That really stuck with me to that was very impactful, I think very smart and hard hitting campaign that that they love that
Faith Legendre 42:45
campaign. I hadn't heard of that, Cory. That's cool. Thanks for sharing that one. And might be
Cory Ames 42:49
mixing some specifics.
Faith Legendre 42:50
Stories still good.
Cory Ames 42:53
Creative one, feta, I want to be respectful of your time here. I notice, especially in conversations like this, where we are talking about the seriousness of what is the current climate, the momentum, perhaps against us in some ways to make some really dramatic shifts in speaking to the fashion industry for one. And noticing here in this conversation, you've had me feel more optimistic, hopeful and inspired. I very much.
Faith Legendre 43:19
Okay, my middle name is Hope. So, you know, like my dad's like, you get to share hope all the time,
Cory Ames 43:24
quite fitting, quite fitting. But one last question for you faith, what might be one bit of advice that you'd share with our listeners, folks who are aspiring or active change makers in one way or another? Here? What what's one piece of advice that you might leave them with?
Faith Legendre 43:41
If you're an entrepreneur, start with the next life in mind, not the end in mind. See that circle. And if you are an intrapreneur, you're in an organization, and you're trying to create change. I was an intrapreneur. In my last organization, don't be afraid to prototype, just ask, I just asked my boss, I want to, I want to build this prototype. And it was amazing, because it's like building they will come that really happened. Like lots of different players came, including Stephanie Benedetta. So I just think, if you and use all your resources, and just keep having the conversation, I was at a party, and it's plastic free July. And so I brought my reusable spork. I brought my cloth napkin, my little silly cup, my silicone reusable cup that kind of folds up my purse. And people like, just started the conversation. They're like, Oh, I noticed that you you brought your and I said well, it's plastic free July you know, and if we each did this, then we would reduce the amount of plastics in our water and in our food, which is leading to an increased rate of colon cancers and those in their 20s. So why they've reduced the screening level the age range down and just think you know, we could create a better future and healthier future for All the children that you see here at this party, and then the woman was like, wow, that's this. She was like, that's, that's really cool. Like, I think it caught her back a little bit, because she's not in this industry and didn't know anything about this. So it's just whether you're sitting on the subway, you're chatting with someone next to you, whether you're in a store, you know, mentioned something next. And again, keep bringing it into the conversation embedded into the conversation and map it to that person's goals. Do you want to show for the party wearing the same thing as somebody else, or show up looking fabulous with something that's just unique to you. So keep talking inside your organization's as an intrapreneur, and prototype. And you'll gain your allies and your supporters in champions and keep going to have hard days. But keep plugging at it, you know, for zero waste and for circularity. And then as an entrepreneur, there's so many entrepreneurs, I know they're doing so well, they have circular companies right now. They can't even keep up, they sever the demand. So it's out there, people want it. So if you want to start your own company, go right ahead, be that social entrepreneur, then environmental entrepreneur and combine the two, which is because they're together. And just keep trying at it. Because the tipping point will happen if it hasn't happened already. In some areas,
Cory Ames 46:21
I certainly like to believe that the wave is headed all in that direction. And perhaps from the entrepreneurial perspective, it helps to write a big wave,
Faith Legendre 46:30
there's a lot of investment dollars out there. There's so much now with like I said, larger companies investing in smaller companies that are circular and seeing what they're doing, as well as the regular investor. So you have like change, finance, change, finance takes the s&p and they take out all the fossil fuels. And I keep watching my change finance stock. And it's doing, it's always in the green, they're always doing really well. So it's interesting what people are doing, you can make an impact around the investment as well. There's large banks, too, I have a lot of friends that work at large banks and they and financial institutions, and they're looking for companies to invest in that are socially and environmentally responsible, because they know that is where the market is going. Thank goodness. Larry Fink's letter from BlackRock, it's a demand now, not just a nice to have, and you'll see in the financial ratings soon that people aren't separating it out anymore. The risk portfolio managers are including the risk of those companies that have environmental and social risk and their rate ranking them down. So it's a financial thing now to which is really cool, because that's when things really happened.
Cory Ames 47:43
Thank you so much for taking the time here to chat with me. Lastly, where is the best place for folks to keep up with you and follow everything that you have to say
Faith Legendre 47:54
it's quite divergent. I do a lot of divergent thinking as design thinker, but on my LinkedIn, and I like to do a lot of repost because I believe in promoting others. So yeah, I'm just basically on around LinkedIn faith legend with an REI on the end on LinkedIn.
Cory Ames 48:09
Perfect. We'll have that linked up in the show. Post that girl ensemble.com Thanks again, faith.
Faith Legendre 48:13
Thank you, Cory for the opportunity.
Cory Ames 48:15
That is a wrap another episode of the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcast in the books. I hope you enjoyed it. As always, your host your Cory Ames. I always really enjoy knowing that you're you're out there listening to this episode, engaging with the content, perhaps the folks that we featured doing this exceptional work in the world. If you enjoyed the show, and you haven't already, please leave us a review wherever it is that you get your podcasts and hit the subscribe button if you haven't already that really helps other folks like yourself, discover the show. And lastly, if you have not yet sign up for the better world weekly newsletter this is our weekly discussion of building a better world with our global community of changemakers and innovators from all sectors and all walks of life. So go to grow ensembl.com backslash newsletter to get the next Better World weekly in your inbox. Alright y'all, we'll talk next time.
Principal Owner, Advisor
Faith is the principal owner of her circular economy consulting company, Afire Consulting. She has been advising on circular economies, zero waste, ecosystem connection, and design thinking for over 15 years.
Working with start-ups to large corporations, Faith has aided them in adopting results-driven approaches to circular economy initiatives that benefit people and the planet. Currently, she is an advisor to Worn Again Technologies, sparks & honey, and is a First Movers fellow at The Aspen Institute. Before founding Afire, Faith led initiatives that connected products & packaging with technical solutions as the Senior Circular Economy Solutions Strategist and Intrapreneur at Cisco.
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