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#ThreadLightly

Threads 4 Thought

12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action

Overview

Consumers cast a vote with their wallets in every purchase they make and with every brand they support. With this understanding, co-founders Eric and Leigh Fleet created Threads 4 Thought, a sustainable clothing company that leaves a smaller ecological footprint, supports in-need communities, and helps change the narrative of ethical standards in the fashion industry.

With revolutionary dye processes, reduced water use, ethical manufacturing, biodegradable packaging, and sustainable materials, Threads 4 Thought is committed to solving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals 12 (Responsible Consumption & Production) and 13 (Climate Action).

Authors

Rachel Nguyen

Rachel Nguyen

Amanda Olivar

Amanda Olivar

Max Miyake

Max Miyake

School

Loyola Marymount University

Loyola Marymount University

Professor

Ingrid Greene

Ingrid Greene

Innovation

Threads 4 Thought has innovated industry standards and manufacturing processes in their dye and water use. Threads 4 Thought works closely with their factories to ensure they are recycling water and that their dying process is BlueSign® certified. Their primary factory in Weihai, China is based in a location known for high water reuse rates; as a result, T4T factories use roughly only 20% of the water typically used per garment, recycles 80% of their wastewater, and has saved over 500 million gallons of water over the last year. Their commitment to ethical and sustainable manufacturing is also seen through the BlueSign® system they are certified under, which provides “safer and more sustainable environments for people to work in and everyone to live in” (Bluesign).

Additionally, Threads 4 Thought is a founding partner of Clean Colour, a “revolutionary dye technology that eliminates all harmful chemicals and reduces the need for water within the dye process by 95%.” The Clean Colour dye technology is a completely closed loop system, which allows for reduced water use and the elimination of waste used in traditional dye processes. Furthermore, the company has recently pushed the usage of WAVE Bags to package their material, with the goal to package 100% of their products in these biodegradable bags within the next 2 years. These bags compost naturally in landfill, can be safely consumed by animals, dissolve in water, and are made from 100% bio-based polymer compounds.

By incorporating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 12 and 13, Thread 4 Thought’s innovations and practices all contribute to the mission of making positive change to save the planet within the fashion industry, businesses at large, and consumers. As stated previously, consumers have the power to cast votes with their wallet—either for or against certain businesses. Not only is Threads 4 Thought transparent in their ethical and sustainability practices, they also partner with the International Rescue Committee to help support in-need communities worldwide through a portion of their profits.

#ThreadLightly

Inspiration

Threads 4 Thought began with a classic story of boy meets girl. The sustainable and ethical apparel brand was founded in 2006 by the husband and wife duo Eric and Leigh Fleet. The pair met in high school and were brought together by their passion for positive, global environmental change. Their mutual concern about global issues and joint vision to change the world led the duo to launch their first collection during their senior year of college. With a mission to do better and elevate the ethical and sustainable standards within the fashion industry, Eric and Leigh developed a line of conscious tees with messages of peace.

Threads 4 Thought was born out of a need for truly ethically-made, honest and sustainable clothing for the modern customer. Now, 16 years after their first collection, Threads 4 Thought has expanded to a whole line of sustainably and ethically made clothing for men, women, and children. Each collection from T4T is inspired by nature and current events in addition to using sustainable materials and humane labor practices.

Overall impact

Thread 4 Thought’s mission has been to “create fashion that truly makes a difference for people and for our planet”. To do so, they’ve focused on their manufacturing processes. Between these processes, Threads 4 Thought has begun to set a standard/example for other apparel companies. Further, they have provided consumers with a sustainable option which has been lacking in the industry for quite some time.

By producing their products using these sustainable methods, such as reducing their water usage through a closed-loop system in their supply chain, they have also proven to other apparel companies that there are in fact current ways to produce sustainably. Not only that, they’ve demonstrated that you can be successful while also being sustainable and prioritizing the well-being of the planet.

Through their manufacturing process, they’ve engineered methods that recycle 80% of their wastewater and use only 20% of the typical water usage per garment. These methods have saved over 500 gallons of water within the last year which has positively impacted the environment. Moreover, they use a high level of eco-friendly materials, such as organic cotton, which reduces its impact on the climate, as well as limits the number of chemicals used in their production. Their new packaging is 100% biodegradable, and their dye process saves 95% of water compared to traditional dying. All of these affect the environment in both the short-term and long-term.

Through their innovation, they’ve avoided close to 6 million km of emissions, saved almost 9 million hours of bulb energy, and have saved nearly 2 million days of drinking water. Furthermore, they have developed close and strong relationships with their factories, employees, and customers, ensuring that every individual involved in the Threads 4 Thought community is doing good and contributing to a movement greater than themselves.

Business benefit

Because the community behind Threads 4 Thought is mission driven and committed to improving the world in its entirety, business benefits such as high employee well-being have resulted from the company’s practices. Threads 4 Thoughts primary focus is to create high-quality, durable, and stable pieces that incorporate the fashion of the moment. The company prides itself on being sustainable, ethical, and impactful—starting a movement with their hashtag, #ThreadLightly.

At its core, T4T is a family-owned business, and its humble roots have spread out to every individual involved in the success of the company. For one, employees who contribute to the company’s success on the business end are able to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They get to work for a company with strong morals and values, and they get to work in a sector where they can see and feel the impact they are making. Additionally, employee well-being and support is a huge focus at Threads 4 Thought. For instance, during Women’s History Month, the company took to social media to uplift, recognize, and celebrate all of the empowering women within the company.

Threads 4 Thought promotes the well-being of their employees worldwide in their supply chain as well. Most companies in the fashion industry are not transparent in regards to where their products are made or who is manufacturing them. Threads 4 Thought has changed this narrative by listing where all of their factories are, how many employees work there, the languages spoken, and the certifications each one has. This level of detail demonstrates the level of trust that has been built overtime in these business relationships. As an added bonus, each production facility that Threads 4 Thought partners with holds the highest certifications in the industry, demonstrating their commitment to ethicality and sustainability. Thus, through safe and fair labor practices, T4T ensures the best working conditions for their employees.

Social and environmental benefit

The societal and environmental benefit of Threads 4 Thought is extensive. Beyond their new biodegradable packaging and significantly reduced water use in all of their dye processes, to promote environmental and social well-being within their supply chain, Threads 4 Thought is committed to sourcing the world’s most sustainable materials and manufacturing them ethically across the board with the highest certifications in the industry. They use an innovative Lenzing™ Modal material that is safely derived from beech tree bark and 100% biodegradable and compostable. The organic cotton used is GOTS certified; requires less energy and water; protects soil from degradation; and eliminates the use of pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. Finally, Threads 4 Thought utilizes recycled polyester and nylon from recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets, preventing harmful materials from entering our oceans and landfills.

Additionally, their Code of Conduct, complete factory list, and transparency rating is published to their website for accountability in their ethical practices. This demonstrates the long-lasting relationships Threads 4 Thought has forged with their suppliers in Guatemala, Wehai, India, and Pakistan — all of these factories having multiple certifications that highlight their ethical and sustainable practices. Even more, T4T has partnered with Green Story to track the impact of their business in detail; whether the findings and data surrounding their carbon footprint is positive or negative, T4T remains committed to transparency so consumers can make conscious decisions about the products they purchase and companies they choose to support.

Interview

Eric Fleet, Founder

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Threads 4 Thought

Threads 4 Thought

Los Angeles, US

Business Website: https://www.threads4thought.com/

Year Founded: 2006

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Threads 4 Thought is a lifestyle brand founded with the understanding that every time you buy a product or support a brand, you’re casting a vote with your wallet. These votes determine the success of each brand’s ethical and moral standards. With that in mind, T4T sought to create a product that leaves an innately smaller impact on our environment, supports in-need communities, and assists in changing the narrative of ethical standards within the fashion industry. Thus, every time a purchase for Threads 4 Thought is made, another vote to improve our planet & move the fashion industry towards a healthier future for all is counted!