Redress

Meet Pan Wen: Finalist of the EcoChic Design Award 2016

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The EcoChic Design Award 2015-16 Mainland China finalist_Pan Wen - Copy.jpgThrough the next two months, GreenStitched sits down with the finalists of EcoChic Design Award 2015/16. EcoChic Design Award is a sustainable fashion design competition organised by Redress, inspiring emerging fashion designers and students to create mainstream clothing with minimal textile waste.

The interviews with these young designers will be posted every Wednesday on GreenStitched.

Today we meet Pan Wen, a recent graduate of Fashion Design from Central Saint Martins who has returned to Mainland China to pursue her career in fashion design.

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?

Pan Wen: I love nature and it pains me to see people endlessly emitting industrial waste for the pursuit of superficial vanity and harming animals and plants in the process. I have always felt that there must be ways to balance one’s needs with the burden we put on our earth. I want to keep exploring this balance through sustainable fashion design, a field which I am passionate about, and spark a deeper reflection through my work.

What was your inspiration for the EcoChic Design Award collection?

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Image: Tim Wong, Redress

Pan Wen: The inspiration came from a 1940’s Scottish tapestry in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The tapestry depicts a scene of blue-blooded people who are hunting for fun. There is this enormous contrast between their elegant life and this cruel behaviour. I wanted to create a collection to express this contrast and condemn a society that would engage in hunting out of pride and vanity.

The collection’s colour is inspired by that tapestry’s soft vintage colour, and the pattern is derived from my sketch of that tapestry. I wanted to use a tender colour to contrast with the cruel reality of hunting. The simple but bold shape is inspired by the garments of the aristocratic hunters in that picture.

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?

Pan Wen:
– Being organised is crucial.

– There are more sustainable materials beside organic cotton. There is a lot more high-tech and exciting materials out there.

– Process and outcomes are both important in fashion design.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?

Pan Wen: Education and events like the EcoChic Design Award helps a lot. Propaganda and advertisement also works. As long as costumers are aware of the importance of sustainability.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?

Pan Wen: Sustainable fashion is not just some homemade craft making use of recycled waste – I think this may be the biggest misconception. Sustainable fashion is about the consideration of processes along the entire fashion supply chain, and in a highly sustainable way too.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?

Pan Wen: Get to know what you are doing, and work really hard to do your best.

What is next in store for you?

Pan Wen: I enjoy living every moment! I look forward to doing some design collaborations with artists in other areas.

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You can follow Pan Wen on Instagram


Watch Frontline Fashion, a  documentary following these talented Asian and European emerging fashion designers determined to change the future of fashion. As they descend into Hong Kong for the design battle of their lives, all eyes are on the first prize; to design an up-cycled collection for China’s leading luxury brand, Shanghai Tang. This documentary is available on iTunes here.

The next cycle of the EcoChic Design Awards is open for application from 3 January to 3 April 2017. Interested students can find more details here.

 

 

Meet Annie Mackinnon: Finalist of the EcoChic Design Award 2016

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The EcoChic Design Award 2015-16 UK finalist_Annie Mackinnon.jpgThrough the next two months, GreenStitched sits down with the finalists of EcoChic Design Award 2015/16. EcoChic Design Award is a sustainable fashion design competition organised by Redress, inspiring emerging fashion designers and students to create mainstream clothing with minimal textile waste.

The interviews with these young designers will be posted every Wednesday on GreenStitched.

Today we meet Annie, a Fashion Design student at Central Saint Martins.

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?

Annie: Honestly I am completely appalled and disgusted by the fashion industry. It is infuriating to see how such a natural and beautiful craft has turned into a wasteful, environmentally and humanly-damaging mess that only cares for the gain of money and popularity, as with most things in the world.

I am trying my best to develop my own practice of work to be as environmentally aware as possible is really the least I can do. I want to be a sustainable fashion designer to raise awareness and change the way people think about consumption and waste and I want to develop alternatives to an industry that is primarily based on ephemeral trends and mass production.

What was your inspiration for the EcoChic Design Award collection?

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Image: Tim Wong, Redress

Annie: The collection was inspired by paintings by Karel Appel, Kandinsky, Kirchner and Matisse, and in particular one of Matisse’s paintings in which naked bodies recline and walk freely around a garden. My collection was based on a series of textiles I created which used up all the waste from the collection by cutting up and fraying all the off cuts and painting over them. These decorated simple silhouettes and all the fabrics used were obtained from old furnishings or off cuts.

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?

Annie:
– Considering the human conditions of production are just as important as the environmental impact when designing. Because I have never had to design on a huge scale, I had never really thought about how mass production factories work, but visiting one of the largest shirt producing factories in the world during the Ecochic Design Award was incredibly eye opening and shocking.

– There are so many aspects beyond the garment itself that need to be taken into consideration when designing. For instance will the user need to wash or iron the garment often? Is the garment easy to dispose of or transform into something else?

– There are always so many ways to improve the sustainability of a design, so it is a process that keeps growing.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?

Annie: There are very few new and exciting designers who genuinely care about sustainability, and it would be great for this to change. Large designers are often guilty of green-washing consumers, or making poor attempts at sustainability that make this branch of design seem like a joke or a fad. Then of course, there is the problem since brands have to sell to make money ; nobody wants to slow down the pace of fashion, or create fewer, longer lasting garments. The whole attitude towards consumption needs to change, and consumers need to start appreciating craftsmanship and slow fashion more.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?

Annie: The biggest problem in my opinion is green-washing, and large companies using sustainability as way of advertising and marketing. This sort of false “sustainability” or “eco-friendly” clothing is damaging to those who genuinely care about the environment and workers rights.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?

Annie: Start learning about ways to be more sustainable as early on in your education as possible.

What is next in store for you?

Annie: This year I will be interning for Bernhard Willhelm, Vivienne Westwood and then a new brand in Shanghai, after which I will go back to university to begin my final collection.

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You can follow Annie on Instagram.


Watch Frontline Fashion, a  documentary following these talented Asian and European emerging fashion designers determined to change the future of fashion. As they descend into Hong Kong for the design battle of their lives, all eyes are on the first prize; to design an up-cycled collection for China’s leading luxury brand, Shanghai Tang. This documentary is available on iTunes here.

The next cycle of the EcoChic Design Awards is open for application from 3 January to 3 April 2017. Interested students can find more details here.

 

 

Meet Esther Lui: Finalist of the EcoChic Design Award 2016

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The EcoChic Design Award 2015-16 Hong Kong finalist _Esther Lui.jpgThrough the next two months, GreenStitched sits down with the finalists of EcoChic Design Award 2015/16. EcoChic Design Award is a sustainable fashion design competition organised by Redress, inspiring emerging fashion designers and students to create mainstream clothing with minimal textile waste.

The interviews with these young designers will be posted every Wednesday on GreenStitched.

Today we meet Esther, a fashion design assistant for a bridal wear design house in  Hong Kong.

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?

Esther: I first heard about sustainable fashion design through Redress at the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI). I debuted my first sustainable collection for my graduation project, where I recycled textile waste from several garment factories to make my collection. I now put more thought into recycling and reducing waste through various fabric cutting techniques.

As a designer witnessing our earth’s resources rapidly diminishing and the increasing amount of textile waste discarded day-by-day, I’ve become very motivated to utilise every piece of textile in my creations. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction to give a new life to previously discarded textiles.

What was your inspiration for the EcoChic Design Award collection?

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Image: Tim Wong, Redress

Esther: It all started when I saw the waste from a clothing label vendor. I took some of the unwanted labels home and weaved them into a fabric. During the weaving process, I was reminded of the legend of Mulan, a woman warrior who was known for being strong on the outside but had a gentle heart. The concept for collection was then born.

In my final collection, I applied the up-cycling design technique using surplus textiles and discarded clothing labels, which I sourced from garment manufacturing factories in Hong Kong. I also applied traditional hand-weaving techniques and 3D cutting technology in my work.

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?

Esther:

During The Redress Forum:  Ford Design Challenge I learned a good lesson to trust myself and believe in my instincts. The thought of only getting three and half hours to make our piece was daunting, and nothing like the way I would normally design. But after completing the challenge I felt sense of accomplishment!

– And I think time limitation is the best driving force for creation. We were all focused on what we were doing during that time and we all only want to do our best in 3 hours!

– Lastly, I thought it’s hard to do the sustainable fashion before that because it costs a lot and needs to concern multiple stages during the process . Ford  showed us how they use the high technology to make the inside of their car in sustainable way. That inspires me to rethink sustainable fashion through the way that I cut fabric, the methods of making fabric, etc.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?

Esther: Fast fashion brands have been providing consumers with a large quantity and variety, as well as offering high fashion brands clothes at more affordable prices. This allows consumers to get their hands on fashionable clothes more accessibly. I have no doubt of the economic benefits, and am sure this also pushes designers to improve and bring forth new ideas.

However, fast fashion also brings with it low quality fashion and copies because the provider is always rushing against time. We’ve already seen this being a problem with few big fashion retailers. Consumers have lost the focus, and no longer care about the details of the clothes and the quality. And designers feel tired when they’re constantly designing and producing new clothes day by day without enough time to find new inspiration.

Recently, a few designers from the high fashion brands realised that there was a growing problem and they have begun to change. For example Jean Paul Gautier is now focusing on haute couture only as he wants to spend more time on the design details and quality instead of quantity.

I think it’s good that high fashion brands designers are starting this trend, as they have a power to turn the people’s eyes. But it might take a bit of time to change, as fast fashion remains a very attractive option.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?

Esther: I think people might still think sustainable fashion means use the creating fashion using trash or rubbish bag, or only wear second hand clothes. Honestly speaking, this was what I thought too before I learnt about sustainable fashion from college.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?

Esther: Have persistency and passion. You really need to stick to it and keep going, as it is never easy to develop your design or a brand, whether it is sustainable, or fashion in general.

What is next in store for you?

Esther: I am starting a collection of gowns in which I am using textile labels as the fabric  Why gowns? It is because I worked for a wedding brand for 5 years and I found that I really love to make gowns! Besides, I want to use the textile waste to make couture dresses because I think it seems like turning trash into gold for me.

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You can follow Esther on Arts Thread


Watch Frontline Fashion, a  documentary following these talented Asian and European emerging fashion designers determined to change the future of fashion. As they descend into Hong Kong for the design battle of their lives, all eyes are on the first prize; to design an up-cycled collection for China’s leading luxury brand, Shanghai Tang. This documentary is available on iTunes here.

The next cycle of the EcoChic Design Awards is open for application from 3 January to 3 April 2017. Interested students can find more details here.

Meet Amy Ward: Finalist of the EcoChic Design Award 2016

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The EcoChic Design Award 2015-16 UK finalist_Amy Ward.jpgThrough the next two months, GreenStitched sits down with the finalists of EcoChic Design Award 2015/16. EcoChic Design Award is a sustainable fashion design competition organised by Redress, inspiring emerging fashion designers and students to create mainstream clothing with minimal textile waste.

The interviews with these young designers will be posted every Wednesday on GreenStitched.

Today we meet Amy, who has recently received her degree in Sustainability in Fashion from ESMOD Berlin in Germany.

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?

Amy: I really loved working with textiles, and it made me very curious about all the processes that go into its production –for example dyeing, growing and spinning. From there as I started to look deeper into some of the issues in the fashion industry which became very obvious. I realised what a significant impact this has; it’s one of the biggest industries in the world!

For me, just because something was sustainable, it doesn’t mean that it has to look or feel any different – I think this is one of the biggest misconceptions about sustainable design. I think that working in a more holistic way makes the final products more interesting, more considered, and just as exciting and beautiful!

I want to make sustainable fashion accessible to everyone. I want it to be fun and engaging and not critical. Sustainability needs to be considered across the entire supply chain, from fibre production to manufacturing, to the way the user interacts with the garment and all the way to its end-of-life and potential for re-use. I want to be part of the new breed of designers who rethink the process of fashion design and who have a genuine and positive impact.

What was your inspiration for the EcoChic Design Award collection?

amy
Image: Tim Wong, Redress

Amy: This collection has been inspired amongst other things, by dinosaurs depicted in modern art and nostalgic film posters, using knitwear to create areas of texture, from a variety of sources of material. The collection combines pop culture references from different eras, 60’s silhouettes, vintage washed out colours, and traditional knitting techniques, all combined with a contemporary approach to make unique, fun and interesting garments.

The collection is designed to be fun, tactile and unusual, but all with elements of familiarity and comfort. I wanted to display the potentials of knitwear within the field of sustainable fashion, as these garments are very low waste, low energy and reuse and re-purpose old materials, creating a very low impact collection that is also contemporary and beautiful knit.

3 things you learnt from of the challenge

Amy:
– Getting the chance to work with other people from different backgrounds really opens your eyes to new possibilities. It is incredibly inspiring.

– Sustainable design is some of the most innovative design; it challenges people to be more creative, more inventive and more sensitive. I think that we can learn so much from people developing these ideas.

– Sharing your ideas is a great thing. In the more conventional fashion industry, it is normal to be very secretive about your process and your designs. However, with sustainable design, we all want to learn from each other and share our ideas and collaborate.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?

Amy: I used to think that a gradual change would happen, and if we were able to give more information to consumers and designers then we would naturally move towards a more sustainable industry. I still feel that but I think that the fashion industry, especially fast fashion producers, are moving so fast and doing so much damage that they need to be held accountable and responsible for their actions. We need to legislate and monitor the actions of these huge manufacturers, with regards to both the social and environmental impact of what they’re doing.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?

Amy: I think it’s changing a lot but there are still times when people assume that sustainable fashion is very dull and make of scratchy material. I think another of the biggest misconceptions is that people assume dressing sustainably is more expensive, there is such a huge amount that can be done with existing materials and clothing and the DIY industry, so being sustainable, fashionable and sticking to a budget is really easy!

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?

Amy: My advice would be to think big and take risks – it sounds very cliché but to really get your ideas out there and to compete with the conventional fashion industry, you have to be doing something interesting.

I would also say to read all the time and learn as much as you can, you’ll never get it right first time and there will always be new things so don’t be put off, just keep trying.

What is next in store for you?

Amy: I am really lucky to be working on an exciting project in Scotland at the moment, working with children in schools with design and sustainability, helping them to reconsider what their learning spaces are and how they could adapt them. It’s a really rewarding project and the children are so excited and have a lot of energy, and are learning a lot about sustainability. I think the more we can teach children the more likely the industry is to change, so I feel very positive about this work.

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You can follow Amy on Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter.


Watch Frontline Fashion , a  documentary following these talented Asian and European emerging fashion designers determined to change the future of fashion. As they descend into Hong Kong for the design battle of their lives, all eyes are on the first prize; to design an up-cycled collection for China’s leading luxury brand, Shanghai Tang. This documentary is available on iTunes here.

The next cycle of the EcoChic Design Awards is open for application from 3 January to 3 April 2017. Interested students can find more details here.

Meet Belle Benyasarn: Finalist of the EcoChic Design Award 2016

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The EcoChic Design Award 2015-16 Thailand finalist_Belle Benyasarn.jpgThrough the next two months, GreenStitched sits down with the finalists of EcoChic Design Award 2015/16. EcoChic Design Award is a sustainable fashion design competition organised by Redress, inspiring emerging fashion designers and students to create mainstream clothing with minimal textile waste.

The interviews with these young designers will be posted every Wednesday on GreenStitched.

Today we meet Belle, a fashion designer from Thailand.

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors  to sustainable fashion?

Belle: I have a background in textile design. As I weave different fabrics, I see the importance and need to be aware of the things I make. I believe it is my responsibility to understand the long-term effects. As fashion design students, we typically spend the bulk of our time learning about designing and making, but we rarely do we consider the environmental impacts we cause through our production as well as what happens after we have sold our designs. I want to be part of the new generation of designers who raise the standards of the fashion industry.

What was your inspiration for the EcoChic Design Award collection?

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Image: Tim Wong, Redress

Belle: The fashion industry is one of the largest polluters in the world. As I am aware of the amount of waste created in the process, I saw the potential of using them with my specialty as a weaver. I was inspired to use a technique I call “Up-cycle Weaving” in my collection – which is all about reinventing new materials. For my EcoChic Design Award collection, I re-weaved various types of waste fabrics including waste leather and end-of-roll textiles I sourced from a local bag factory in Thailand to create a sustainable collection that looks wearable in everyday life.

3 things you learnt from of the challenge

Belle:
– Believe in your passion. Search for an opportunity and express it.

– It may be difficult to balance aesthetics and design sometimes, but the most important  thing is to do what you like and be proud of your creations.

– Sustainable is around the corner. It is in your everyday life.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?

Belle: It all comes down to the way consumer perceives sustainable fashion. Aesthetics will be important . The designer has to prove that there can be a balance between sustainability and aesthetics; then people will start to believe it.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?

Belle: Sustainable fashion is not about designing an outfit from the garbage or plastic bottles that you purchase from supermarket. We must consider the source of the materials well as who makes it.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?

Belle: Believe in yourself. Be confident. There will always be someone who likes your work.

What is next in store for you?

Belle: I’m currently running a woven textile studio under my name. I’d like to provide a new creative approach to textile design by exploring unusual materials as well as a sustainable approach.

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You can follow Belle on Facebook.


Watch Frontline Fashion, a  documentary following these talented Asian and European emerging fashion designers determined to change the future of fashion. As they descend into Hong Kong for the design battle of their lives, all eyes are on the first prize; to design an up-cycled collection for China’s leading luxury brand, Shanghai Tang. This documentary is available on iTunes here.

The next cycle of the EcoChic Design Awards is open for application from 3 January to 3 April 2017. Interested students can find more details here.

The Dirty Secrets Your Clothes Are Keeping From You

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If they told us more, would we listen?

Consider the clothing label. Not fashion label, as in Chanel or Gucci, but the itchy, annoying little tag hiding inside every single piece of clothing you’ve ever worn.

That tag is the closest thing we’ve got to a legend, a guide to whatever it is we’re wearing. In many cases, it tells us what the item is made from and how to wash it. Unfortunately, labels leave out some pretty important information about our clothes and how they’re produced. In their understated way, clothing tags keep some of the garment industry’s most troubling secrets.

You may not have a burning desire to know your turtleneck’s or your favorite jeans’ life story ― fair enough. But a number of label-obsessed clothing industry players want labels to be more informative and even empowering, to tell us more about how our clothes are made and help us discard them responsibly when we’re done with them.

“The label is a place where we already to go access information, but we don’t get what we want,” Marianne Caroline Hughes, a United Kingdom-based sustainable fashion advocate and entrepreneur, told The Huffington Post. “It’s hugely underutilized as a place to access information and act upon information as well.”

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FASHION REVOLUTION The tags on your clothes won’t tell you some of the industry’s dirtiest secrets.

In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission enforces labeling requirements. That’s why the tag on your shirt tells you its country of origin, fiber content and the name of the manufacturer or dealer.

Still, in many places, it’s optional to include the country of origin. For example, Hong Kong, home to one of the world’s largest textile industries, doesn’t require it. Same for the U.K., Sweden, Germany and several other European nations.

Wherever they’re based, clothing companies certainly aren’t in the business of oversharing (if they even know all the details of their own supply chains, which they often don’t).

Christina Dean, founder of the fashion waste reduction organization Redress, says that, ideally, every label would include information about an item’s environmental impact. And since garments aren’t necessarily made in just one place, labels should say where the garment was manufactured and where the fabric comes from.

She’s not optimistic that brands would voluntarily offer this. Her more modest wish is for some kind of global standard, requiring every garment to state its country of origin. “It’s like a 101 of transparency,” she told HuffPost.

Others believe clothing tags should acknowledge the people who toil unseen to make our clothes. The garment industry employs at least 60 million people worldwide ― from Bangladesh and Cambodia, to Europe and Los Angeles ― most of them women. In countries where poverty is rampant, companies involved in various stages of garment production have been known to employ young children and subject them to dangerous and unfair working conditions.

After more than 1,100 garment workers died in the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, Sean McHugh and his colleagues at the Canadian Fair Trade Network set out to raise awareness about garment workers’ lives, using clothing tags to tell their stories.

The group’s 2015 ad campaign, “The Label Doesn’t Tell The Whole Story,” featured sweaters and jackets with oversized tags crammed with information, based on the group’s research abroad. Each tag aimed to capture the experiences of a person who might have made the garment pictured. Here’s one of those stories:

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THE CANADIAN FAIR TRADE NETWORK The Canadian Fair Trade Network’s ad campaign featured photos of clothing tags that tell the stories of garment workers, including children, laboring in unsafe conditions.

The label reads:

100% cotton. Made in Cambodia by Behnly, 9 years old. He gets up at 5:00 am every morning to make his way to the garment factory where he works. It will be dark when he arrives and dark when he leaves. He dresses lightly because the temperature in the room he works reaches 30 degrees [86 degrees Fahrenheit]. The dust in the room fills his nose and mouth. He will make less than a dollar, for a day spent slowly suffocating. A mask would cost the company ten cents.

The label doesn’t tell the whole story.

McHugh, the Canadian Fair Trade Network’s executive director, said the labels campaign was one of the group’s most successful ever. Facebook followers doubled, website traffic tripled and the campaign was covered in 15 countries and in eight languages.

But the Network struggled to move from awareness to action. “The part that was lacking, the challenging bit, was the tangible next step for consumers to take,” McHugh told HuffPost.

The nonprofit Fashion Revolution also sees clothing labels as a gateway to more accountability. Its signature campaign, “Who Made My Clothes,” asks people to photograph labels on their clothing and post them on social media, to pressure brands into sharing the human stories behind the items they make ― stories that would otherwise never be told.

During the group’s annual awareness event in April, more than 1,200 brands, including Zara, American Apparel and Levi’s, responded to the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes, according to a Fashion Revolution spokeswoman. Some replies even included photos and names of actual garment workers.

And if labels were to tell us the best way to get rid of our old clothes, what would that look like?

Levi’s has been doing this since 2009. Its “Care Tag for Our Planet” label, in partnership with Goodwill, is now sewn into every Levi’s product. This tag tells you not only how to properly wash and dry items, but also suggests you donate them at the end of their life cycle, instead of throwing them out.

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LEVI STRAUSS & CO Levi’s products carry a gentle reminder: caring for your clothes includes disposing of them responsibly when you don’t want them any more.

“This is the first major step to begin to engage consumers in their environmental impact and what they can do reduce it,” Michael Kobori, a vice president of sustainability at Levi’s, said at the time of the Care Tag’s launch.

As HuffPost has reported, Goodwill takes in millions of pounds of used clothing a year and makes a monumental effort to keep them out of landfills, even though every donated item doesn’t necessarily make it to needy people.

By suggesting people donate their old items, Levi’s is taking a step toward encouraging customers to treat their clothes in an environmentally responsible way. It’s good advice, considering the clothes we as Americans throw out ― dozens of pounds a year, per person ― end up breaking down in landfills and polluting the atmosphere in dangerous and preventable ways.

Since ordinary people can’t just tell brands what to do, they understandably feel powerless, said Hughes, the U.K. entrepreneur. That’s why she and her label-loving counterparts see informative tags as a useful tool ― even a weapon ― in the quest for more transparency about the things we wear.

“I think the label, and making products a source of information, is the key to it all, really,” she said.

*This story first appeared on Huffington Post