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The Marshall Plan: Sustainability Starts with Action

(April/May 2018) posted on Thu May 03, 2018

Is 2018 the year your shop finally goes green?


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By Marshall Atkinson

This month’s column will look at a trend gaining a lot of momentum in the industry today – sustainability. If you haven’t been paying attention lately, more folks are jumping on that “green” bandwagon than ever before. No, not PMS 354 or Kelly Green. I mean eco-green. Green as in environmentally friendly, and green as in money.

That’s right: Pushing your processes and product choices to be more sustainable can mean more money to your bottom line from two directions. First, there’s the cost savings you’ll reap when you get your sustainability initiative underway and performing. Then, if you can craft a strategy to help market your new capabilities, such as obtaining a third-party, audited sustainability certification, you’ll begin raking in the green of new client money. Believe it or not, there are customers out there who value working with vendors that are trying to make a difference.

Digging Deeper
This isn’t a new topic for me: Those of you who have read anything I’ve written over the past few years know my feelings about the benefits of sustainability. What’s noteworthy, though, is that more people are interested in this topic than ever before. It came up again and again at the ThreadX conference in Palm Springs, California in February – not just in the presentations, but in conversations among the attendees.



When you consider how industry manufacturers are tweaking their products, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the trend is here to stay. Shirt manufacturers, for example, are using more sustainable sources for their yarn – organic; recycled; modal. It’s all being woven into super soft, trendy, retail-oriented fashion blanks.

But if you use those blanks and don’t really have a sustainable production environment, it is akin to only singing half of the song. You need to fine tune that other half to authentically market your wares as “green.” Otherwise, you are lying to yourself and your customers. That’s called “greenwashing.”

Getting Started
Putting a sustainability program into place at your company is like any other process. It’s not that hard. Like any journey, it begins with you taking action.

Let’s begin with a simple idea – a three-letter word, actually: Why.


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