The Art of Measuring a Year

December 19, 2018

Every year, just about this time, my dad would send out the family Christmas letter. It summarized the adventures we had, always the fun stuff or the big, memorable things. As with most summaries, the nitty-gritty details of day-to-day life didn’t make the list. When I sat down to reflect on what it meant for The Renewal Workshop to make it around the sun once again – the company version of the Holiday letter -  I found myself with a list of some pretty noteworthy accomplishments, but, just as important, there were the in-between details that painted the canvas of the year for us.

We’re ending this year grateful for the big, the memorable, the fun and the everyday moments of it all with our brand partners, customers, investors and the phenomenal team that powers our work every day. 

Our Big Moments

A year ago, we had a special secret. While keeping mum about why, we worked like manic little elves through the holidays and into the new year. Our friends at The North Face had partnered with us to become the first publicly traded company to launch certified Renewed Apparel as one of their steps to becoming a circular business. On June 6th, we launched The North Face Renewed, showcasing TNF’s commitment to circular driven sustainability.

In 2018, we welcomed 10 new partners, growing the family of brands committed to renewal and to circular business practices to a total of 19. This year Vuori, Osprey, Timbuk2, Lo&Sons, Mara Hoffman, The North Face, Shred Dogs, Panagia, Manduka and Icebreaker joined our founding brands prAna, Mountain Khakis, Cirque Mountain, Indigenous, Thread, Nau, Coyuchi, Toad& Co and Outerknown.

 wonderful partners


We grew a lot over the year: we are now twice as big, both in terms of our square footage, by adding a new factory, and in terms of staff, by almost doubling our team. 

In June, we reported out our impact metrics for two years of renewing apparel.

Here’s the power of our partners' commitment to the Renewal Process:

77,957 pounds of textile waste from landfill
The energy of 8,500 light bulbs in a year
The water of 79 Olympic sized swimming pools
The toxicity of 104,000 pounds of chemicals
The carbon equivalent of 7,900 gallons of gas.
 

The Industry’s Big Moments

Just as important as our 2018 big moments are the significant changes that happened across the industry. This year was truly a turning point for the circular economy in the apparel and textile industry, with the theory shifting into practice.

In August, VF Corporation announced their Circular Strategy which states, “The linear system of production is not sustainable for a planet with a growing population and limited resources. Linear production is inherently inefficient and wasteful, and it limits relationships to singular transactions. In a circular system, however, materials are used again and again, and old products are kept in circulation as long as possible or are turned into new ones, generating very little waste. Circular business models present an opportunity for VF to unlock new revenue streams for our brands while continually and meaningfully cutting our environmental impact. They enable us to build better products, extend product life, transform transactions into deeper relationships, and turn waste into value.”

The Global Fashion Agenda re-upped their commitment statement to invite apparel and textile brands to commit to four principles.

1) Implementing design strategies for cyclability

2) Increasing the volume of used garments and footwear collected

3) Increasing the volume of used garments and footwear resold

4) Increasing the share of garments and footwear made from recycled post-consumer textile fibres

This year 94 companies made public commitments.

Textile Exchange – the leading non-profit that is catalyzing material change - hosted over 800 people at their global conference and focused on Circular as a core theme. The conversations were not about the nice idea of circular; they moved beyond rhetoric to helping the industry co-create what circular looks like.  

The Outdoor Industry Association Sustainability Working Group adopted Circular as a pillar of their research and support efforts. They are providing tools kits and guidance for brands that want to start putting circular into action. 

And, at the first Remode conference in LA, Circular was a core theme. I had the opportunity to join the stage with Target, H&M, as well as new organizations focused on the change - FourDays and EON - to talk about the design, strategy and implementation of circular. 

When we started The Renewal Workshop, the idea of Circular was new and most were unsure what it was. While it still might not be front-page news, it is taking hold thanks to the investments made by so many of you. Working together across different brands and departments and types of organizations and with a committed group of consumers making change with their purchasing power, we are all creating a new structure for business that is regenerative at its core. The hopes we share for protecting the planet and preserving our natural resources are driving actions forward across the entire industry. At a time when climate science and environmental protection policy is under siege, you are part of the movement making a real, measurable impact. Contributing to that is the biggest and most memorable and most fun part of 2018 for us.

The In-Betweens

Not to be outdone by all those big things, here are some of things that happened in between:

  • We doubled the size of the kitchen table to accommodate all the GREAT NEW EMPLOYEES that have joined our mission!
  • We built the DOWN CHAMBER that has been on our TO DO list for two years
  • We got an OFFICIAL SIGN outside the factory announcing who we are
  • We created a brand new RETAIL program, warehouse, circle and staff
  • We had a personal visit from our GOVERNOR – Kate Brown
  • We more than DOUBLED the amount of sewing machines we have
  • We didn't win the MEGA MILLION Lottery
  • We bought a new refrigerator and THREE new microwaves to keep the hungry masses
  • We pulled thousands of invasive IVY plants from Rooster Rock with our partners at Nau and Friends of the Columbia Gorge.
  • We are now ROCKIN new landscaping around the building
  • We got a NEW (to us) FORKLIFT!
  • We ate 472 garden grown HOT PEPPERS and 227 bags of JUANITA'S chips!
  • We hosted 14 potluck lunches and ate 16 cakes to celebrate birthdays
  • We welcomed our first RENEWAL BABY

 reflections

As we get ready to start writing 2019 and think ahead to what the new year will bring us, we want to pause to honor one of our Company Values – Presence. Our definition is:

We manage our time by being present with what is here right now, remaining in the moment, and giving ourselves time to absorb and process. We allow things to happen in flow.”

Thank you for being in the flow with us, for being part of a transformative 2018 and cheers to the what is here right now and what will come in the new year.

 

 


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