Apparel might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of environmentalism. Yet, the rise of eco-fashion has slowly become an important part of attaining sustainability. Representatives from three sustainability companies spoke at Taper Hall Tuesday night about their experiences running environmentally conscious companies in a panel hosted by The Sustainability Project, a student group dedicated to advocating for sustainable policies in business.
Panelists included Jennifer Silbert, co-founder of Rewilder, a company that creates bags from purely salvaged materials; Holly Eve Hernandez, founder of the all-natural beauty brand Madame Lemy; and Robert Luo a senior majoring in marketing and co-founder of eco-friendly men’s bags company Mi Terro, Inc.
The founder of the Sustainability Project Randy Yue led the conversation with questions centered on the panelists’ shared passion for environmentalism.
Silbert said she has been interested in reusable materials and sustainability since childhood, but it was her previous career in architecture that furthered her interest in design. The ability to combine these two passions into one vision excited her.
“There is opportunity right now to merge these things together — business and design and sustainability,” Silbert said.
Silbert channeled her platform for change as a founder of an eco-friendly backpack company.
“[I’m excited to] use fashion as a platform for talking about real lifestyle changes,” Silbert said.
Luo cited his goals for the environment as his inspiration for Mi Terro, Inc.
“After more research about the industry we found that there are many green fashion brands for females but not too many for men. So we thought men should step up,” Luo said.
The conversation then turned to how the effects of unsustainable living are catching up to humans.
Before creating Madame Lemy, Hernandez was a makeup artist and did not realize that many makeup products contained numerous hidden chemicals. Hernandez was inspired to start her company after a close friend was diagnosed with breast cancer and believed it was due to the harmful products she used.
“In the [increased use] of these chemicals … we all have somebody who has been diagnosed with cancer or with a hormonal disorder,” Hernandez said. “These chemicals have been parallel of these diseases.”
In further explaining how toxic beauty products can be, Hernandez said that there is little to no regulation in the U.S. for cosmetic products.
“There are 11 chemicals that are banned in this country. Compared to the European Union, there are about 1,400 chemicals banned,” she said.
To wrap up the conversation, the panelists encouraged the audience to follow their own dreams and create companies that are sustainable. Despite their different company missions, all of the panelists agreed on one major thing: That the time to help save our planet is now.
“Just do it, just dive in and do it and do it right. Now is the time. This whole world needs you to do whatever is in your head,” Silbert said.