The garment industry is actually the second largest polluting industry in the world. Rachel Faller, founder oftonlé, a Cambodian based fashion company, seeks to change this. Tonlé means river and symbolizes movement, change, growth and potential—qualities she wants to see for an industry that she loves for its creativity, but despises for its damage. Tonlé contracts with designers to help them get on board with zero waste efforts. They sell online, in four stores in Cambodia, as a wholesaler to retailers (mostly boutiques) and are hoping to scale up their wholesale output to expand across the US and other countries.
Tons of carbon are being emitted into the atmosphere. Half the world’s textiles are actually made out of petroleum and when you burn that, or put that in a landfill, it obviously has devastating consequences. “In addition to all that pollution,” Faller adds, “about half of the materials that are created are wasted in the process of getting them to us as final products. So, imagine if we were able to cut that waste down. Imagine if we were able to cut that production down in half by just not wasting as much.”
In my opinion, there is no 'Plan B' - we have only one earth. We need more initiatives like Tonlé that can create a sustainable equilibrium using design thinking. Entrepreneurs like Rachel Faller show us that we don't always have to trade off between saving the environment and having beautiful, profitable products.
For more stories on how the world can pursue a triple bottom line of profits, people and planet, follow me on Twitter @NatashaGarcha
Rachel Faller, founder of tonlé, a Cambodian based fashion company, poses a simple question. How many of us can ensure our clothes were made without the use of slavery or significant and needless damage to the environment? And if we could, in the wake we would find exploitation, which many of us are well aware of but feel largely helpless to change.