A 2017 United Nations study predicted that, if we reach a projected 9.8 billion population by 2050, that humanity would need the equivalent of three planets to have enough natural resources to cover our current levels of consumption. Imagine the repercussions of that if things did not change. Inequality would continue to grow rampant as fewer supplies would be available per capita. The climate would continue to deteriorate as waste piled up and the extraction of natural resources worsened greenhouse gas emissions. It’s no wonder that in the past few years that academics and scientists have been pushing for an economy where we waste less and repurpose more.
Luckily, we know that companies and founders around the world are starting to rethink the products and services that they offer with the wellbeing of people and the planet in mind. Today’s interview is a story of a local activewear company, Vedalia Living.
How Vedalia Living Became a Sustainable Fashion Pioneer
Can you explain Vedalia Living’s value proposition for businesses and for society in your own words?
Fritz: “Vedalia Living is a startup wellness lifestyle brand focused on creating activewear that keeps the ocean free of plastic and inspires people to live healthier lives. All of our clothing is organic, plant-based, and is untouched by man-made chemicals and dyes. This is so important when considering that almost 60% of clothing today is made from petrochemical-based polyester.
Instead, our activewear is made from Fair Trade Certified organic cotton that grows naturally in different colors. The cotton we use comes from cottons that grows in colors other than white. We source beautiful, naturally grown ecru, green, and brown cotton that is indigenous to Peru, all of which have been used in textiles for over 4,500 years. No dyes or chemicals are used to alter the color. The cotton is then handcrafted into beanies and bracelets. We will also soon expand to make t-shirts, hoodies, and fleece jackets in collaboration with our sourcing partners.
Aside from just making quality products, Vedalia also strives to promote healthy, sustainable living. We emphasize eating well, exercising well, and wearing well (by wearing organic, plant-based activewear). Our website and promotional materials also highlight the artisans crafting these products to raise awareness about where clothes come from and how they are made. Showing the farmers and artisans that craft the clothing builds appreciation for their work and encourages people to value their clothing more.”
What made you start Vedalia Living?
Fritz: “After college I got involved with transportation with an international logistics firm that worked with major footwear and apparel companies. I traveled throughout Mexico and South America and visited numerous textile manufacturers. At the same time, I was competing in marathons and triathlons and eating a lot of organic food. A seed was planted to start working on something that could blend these two interests of organics and apparel…but then business school got in the way.”
Following business school, I spent my career working on socially-responsible investing and banking. It was years later when the topic of microplastic pollution caught my attention. Every time we wash our polyester and other synthetic-based clothes little pieces of plastic shed from the clothes and enter the water system, eventually entering our oceans and being consumed by marine life…and in-turn are consumed by humans when we eat seafood.
What’s worse is that there is so much waste now in the fashion industry–even more than when I started working with organic cotton apparel after college. Vedalia was started with the mission to get people to eat well, exercise well and, most importantly, wear well.”
Which SDG 12 targets does your business directly work toward?
- 12.8–By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature
- 12.B–Develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products
What You Can Do to Make Fashion Sustainable
Any calls to action? How can our readers make your work more impactful?
Fritz: “For those that are concerned about the health of our oceans and want to get involved more actively, we often recommend getting involved with the Surfider Foundation. They are a national nonprofit that focuses on coastal preservation, ocean protection, and plastic free oceans.”
What is your second-favorite SDG and why?
Fritz: “Definitely SDG 14: Life Below Water. We are very supportive of healthy oceans and we know how critical it is to reduce plastic and chemical ocean pollution from land-based activities. What we do on land affects the air and affects the ocean…and the pollution and climate change that results are more likely to disproportionately harm lower-income communities. We believe sustainable fashion can work towards environmental and social justice”