Ralph Lauren Earth Polo
by Stephen Garner

Today marks the 49th annual Earth Day. First celebrated in 1970 to encourage support for environmental protection, Earth Day now includes events in more than 193 countries, and brands and retailers are increasingly participating in the day with their own sustainable collections and initiatives. Keep reading to see just a sampling of what brands and retailers are doing in order to help protect and improve our environment.

Ralph Lauren Earth Polo

Ralph Lauren just released the “Earth Polo” – a riff on its iconic polo shirt crafted from thread derived entirely from recycled plastic bottles and dyed in a process that uses zero water. Each Earth Polo is made from an average of 12 plastic bottles.

The Earth Polo was produced in partnership with First Mile, an organization with a global mission focused on sustainability and positive social impact. First Mile works with entrepreneurs in low-income communities to collect recyclable plastic bottles, which are then processed through a unique and eco-friendly manufacturing program and turned into high-quality yarn and ultimately fabric.

“Ralph Lauren will commit to removing at least 170 million bottles from landfills and oceans, and will convert the use of all virgin poly-fiber to recycled poly-fiber by 2025,” said David Lauren, chief innovation officer. “Plastic waste is a major issue threatening the environment—we want to be part of the solution and utilize an innovative approach to create something valuable.”

Columbia Water Tower

Columbia Sportswear has created a new donation program to drive support for Planet Water Foundation, a U.S. non-profit that brings clean water to some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities.

As a way to increase awareness and drive donations, Columbia is giving its customers a way to double their impact on Earth Day. Customers can visit any U.S. Columbia retail store on April 22 to make a donation to Planet Water Foundation at the register, and Columbia will match their contribution. After Earth Day, customers can continue to make donations at Columbia’s retail stores until May 31, 2019.

“Clean water is important for everyone,” said Abel Navarrete, vice president of corporate responsibility for Columbia Sportswear Company. “But it’s particularly important in the communities where our suppliers live and thrive. To help provide a solution, we’re working with Planet Water Foundation and our factory partners to build water towers to provide clean drinking water to those communities in need.”

Each water tower can provide enough clean water for up to 1,000 people per day. Since Columbia’s work with Planet Water Foundation began, the company has funded 9 water towers across Vietnam, India and the Philippines. As the partnership continues, Columbia’s goal is to fund 25 water towers by 2022.

The RealReal

Today The RealReal became the first company in the resale industry to join the UN Climate Change’s Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action. Alongside more than 60 participating companies and organizations–including luxury leaders like Kering, partners like Stella McCartney and retailers like Levi’s–The RealReal will be helping forge a more sustainable future for fashion.

“The RealReal has been an advocate for reducing fashion’s footprint from day one,” said Julie Wainwright, CEO of The RealReal. “We’re a proud member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s CE100 USA, and joining this Charter is a natural next step for us to be an agent for change on a global level. We’re excited to be a voice for the circular economy in actionable conversations about reducing fashion’s impact.”

By taking responsibility for their carbon footprint and engaging the industry around a path to a low-carbon future, members of the Charter aim to limit global warming and inspire climate action even beyond the fashion sector. The RealReal has joined one of the initiative’s working groups to help create a clear path to achieve the actions outlined in the Charter and has taken a personal stance on reducing its environmental impact.

“We make it easy for consumers to shift their consumption behaviors to a more sustainable model, and we challenge ourselves as a company to find new ways to become increasingly sustainable,” added Wainwright. “As part of joining the Charter, we’re working toward reducing our carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030.”

Next up, Sperry has teamed up with Zappos and Atlantic recording artist Josie Dunne to launch a limited-edition shoe made with Bionic yarn, spun from plastic recovered from marine and coastal environments.  The shoes launched today on Earth Day on, and will retail for $69.95.

The custom artwork for the limited-edition Sperry Bionic shoes for men and women was designed by artist Eddie B in collaboration with Josie Dunne.  Sperry’s classic CVO style gets a modern update, with a bold stripe design and a nautical navy blue, red and white palette.  

Supported by Zappos For Good, the company’s charitable arm, the exclusive footwear offering benefits Waterkeeper Alliance, a nonprofit organization which focuses citizen action on issues that affect our waterways.

This season, BOSS Menswear introduces two new capsule collections created with a focus on caring for the environment. The German brand draw on innovative techniques and production methods to create clothing with a reduced impact on the world around us.

Eco-friendly yarns and innovative techniques ensure these trend-driven casual pieces from BOSS’ “Responsible Capsule” use less water in their production. Highlights include denim from the Candiani mill in Italy, a leader in sustainability, and a cracked print T-shirt crafted from recot yarn, which is made in Germany from 25 percent pre-consumer recycled cotton and 75 percent virgin organic cotton.

BOSS is also utilizing a new fabric partially made from recycled coffee grounds called S.Café. These are woven using a patented process into a special yarn that offers quick-drying and odor-control properties, as well as UV protection.

And finally, in honor of Earth Day, Gap Inc. unveiled new commitments from Banana Republic and Old Navy to accelerate the company’s use of more sustainable materials in apparel production and reduce the environmental impacts of product manufacturing.

Banana Republic will continue to integrate sustainability into design and manufacturing decisions to reduce the environmental impacts of each garment. The brand aims to source 100 percent of its cotton from more sustainable sources, primarily sourcing through the Better Cotton Initiative, as well as through recycled and organic sources. Additionally, Banana Republic aims to make 50 percent of all products with techniques that save at least 20 percent water in comparison to conventional methods at mills and at laundries. This will include Banana Republic leveraging the smart denim wash program called Washwell, which was launched by Gap brand in 2016 and reduces water usage by 20 percent or more in the product’s garment wash stage for denim products.

Old Navy set the same goal of sourcing 100 percent of its cotton from more sustainable sources, primarily through the Better Cotton Initiative. Additionally, 100 percent of Old Navy’s denim product aims to be made using techniques that save water, including proven wash processes by 2022.

Today’s announcement builds on 2017 commitments made by the company’s namesake brand Gap and Athleta. As part of its Gap for Good platform for more sustainable fashion, Gap committed to obtaining 100 percent of its cotton from more sustainable sources by 2021, employing water-saving techniques, as well as empowering women through Gap Inc.’s signature life skills and education program, P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement). The brand’s Washwell efforts have saved over 229 million liters of water since 2016 when compared to conventional wash methods.