Eco-Innovations founder outlines keys to sustainable products
Coral Rose
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5:11 p.m., Oct. 24, 2008----Coral Rose, a member of the University of Delaware's Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies Advisory Board and a recognized strategist, eco-educator and speaker on the subject of sustainable textiles and the practical application of sustainability to business, gave a talk about sustainability and how to balance commercial sales with ecologically friendly products in the Trabant University Center on Tuesday evening, Oct. 21.

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Rose spoke about the importance of finding out what is environmentally practical for one's business, as well as for one's products, stressing that it is necessary to know where the sources for raw materials originate.

“The first questions that the designer of sustainable products have to ask are, 'What's the source of our raw material? Where is it coming from? Is it degrading an environment?'”

Rose went on to give an example that gained noteriety about six months ago of a company that was illegally harvesting wood and degrading the environment of Siberian tigers in Russia. This wood was then used to create cribs that were sold by major American retailers.

Another focus of the talk was on bamboo, which Rose said “is considered sustainable, it grows very fast. But the issue with bamboo is that right now we don't know where bamboo is coming from. There is zero supply-chain transparency.”

The lack of supply-chain transparency is alarming,she said, because much of the bamboo that is harvested is taken directly from the habitats of pandas.

Rose said that it is important for companies to use sustainable clothing products not just for environmental reasons, but for economic reasons, as well.

Using Wal-Mart as an example, Rose showed how they saved $2.4 million a year in shipping costs and a million barrels of oil simply by eliminating excess packaging on small toys. They also generated $28 million in revenue by selling recycled plastics.

“Sustainability is good for business, and companies are either saving money or making money and this is the reason that they are thrilled about it in this time of high energy costs,” Rose said.

For more information, visit Rose's blog at [http://coralrose.typepad.com].

Article by Adam Thomas
Photo by Tyler Jacobson

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