We take a lot for granted. Like breathing, taking in clean air and processing it through our respiratory system. It’s what keeps us alive but we don’t think about it. It is NOT on my mind as I jump out of bed in the morning (or slowly roll out of bed after hitting snooze button). I just take in a deep breath - and breathe. The same can be said for clean water. It’s just there. These are the fundamental requirements for life that nature offers us as a gift. Staying present and grateful for what the environment gives so freely is hard to do. When we started The Renewal Workshop, we knew we had to build intention and systems into the foundation of the company if we were going to be successful in our ambition of being a business in service to the environment. We had to center ourselves as individuals and as an organization.
There are many reasons that individuals and companies consider their daily impacts on the planet. For us, it comes from our history in the apparel industry. For more years that we can bear to count, we have directly witnessed the manufacturing process – every part of it - from growing cotton or extracting oil out of the ground to create the raw materials to the large factories with thousands of square feet hosting massive machines designed to heat up water, apply chemicals and dyes to create the color in our clothes.
It is a lot of work to make what we wear.
Work that takes its toll on our environment. Thankfully, things are starting to change, there is more awareness than ever before. Customers, like you, keep asking the brands they love to do better, to source environmentally preferred materials, to take responsibility for the whole lifecycle of products, and to work with suppliers who care about human rights.
We owe the planet a lot and if we want to keep taking those big deep breaths and have the water we need to survive, we have to do more to reduce our negative environmental impact. That means that we're going to have to do business differently. We’ve chosen to start a business that extends the life of clothing and textiles already in circulation. There is embedded value in a piece of clothing that is already made. The carbon, water, energy, and chemicals used to create that item are an investment. An analogy might help, if you think about making some chocolate chip cookies, you take flour, sugar, baking soda, butter, vanilla, salt, eggs, and chocolate chips and set them on the counter, now consider what did it take for that flour to get to your home? The flour was grown as wheat, used water, fertilizers, sunshine and then was harvested, the wheat was removed from the stock, ground up into flour, put into bags, shipped to a store and then you bought it. Each ingredient has a story like that and then you put your loving time into making the cookies and in the end, when you bite down into a delicious cookie, you enjoy all that embedded value and investment. If the cookie is misshapen, you don't throw it out. It's still delicious, it still has a role to play. You just have to think about it differently. Thinking about things differently and working to generate positive, lasting value out of everything that has been lovingly created is what we do. It's how we practice not taking the gifts the earth has given us for granted. This is where we find our center.