I was honored to moderate the Green Denim Panel with the amazing change makers who have joined in to share their insight and diverse experience. The panel was hosted by GreenStory in their relentless quest to explore the green potential of denim as well as get the consumers to ask what impact they are making with their purchases. What matters the most is the impact orientation of a brand as well the referent supply chain and the evaluation as well as the communication of the impact. Akhil Sivanandan from GreenStory was kind enough to share his thoughts on bringing an impact guideline to fashion.
IF: Please tell us about GreenStory and how you have come to develop the technology?
Akhil: Growing up in India, I saw at an early age the impact that people can have on the environment and the importance of making greener choices for oneself. After my undergrad, I worked on sustainability consulting and market research for many companies and governments both in India and Canada. It was frustrating to see the slow action that’s being taken. I was fortunate to meet my co-founder, Navodit, during my MBA and he had the same frustration.
In 2016, I quit my job and we founded GreenStory to really help people take steps towards a more eco-conscious lifestyle. That’s our north star. I believe that if people have the right information at the right time, they can make better, greener choices. This can truly transform the world. What if everyone on the planet could ask, “What’s my impact?” and get a credible answer for it?
The idea came about over long meetings in the library, Starbucks and at the University of Toronto (typically after work). We started with the simple goal of getting consumers to make greener choices. Believe it or not, our first prototype was a 90 MB Excel sheet we spent 4 months building! Shortly after, we got our first fashion client, and the fashion industry has been our main focus since 2018.
IF: What is GreenStory's dream for the future?
Akhil: We have a host of new features coming up over the next few months, which will not only allow companies to communicate their impact, but allow them and their customers to reduce it even further! I’m very excited about this new chapter in our journey.
Our goal is to get every consumer to make greener choices. As a company, we’ve helped over 10 million consumers already. In terms of broad impact, we have that through our clients. We count over 9 Billion liters of water have been saved via greener choices enabled by our platform. Imagine if all 1 billion global “super consumers” shopped sustainably just in 1 year, 900 billion liters of water could be saved, enough to fill up an Olympic-sized swimming pool more than 355,000 times.
IF: Do you think that the consumers are a key element in formulating a circular fashion landscape and why?
Akhil: Companies make decisions based on consumer demand. If investors and decision makers see that consumers are demanding sustainable and circular fashion, more technology and infrastructure will go to develop it. In fact, we wrote a blog about this very topic: https://greenstory.ca/blog/can-consumers-follow-through-for-the-circular-economy/ . Put simply, if consumers really do buy in, it will force governments and industry to play ball. They can then set up the right infrastructure, and with strong stakeholder engagement at every stage in a product’s life-cycle, a circular, zero-waste apparel industry is within our grasp.
IF: Do you see “sustainability” becoming the new hype?
Akhil: It already is! As per the annual Lyst rankings, sustainable fashion related searches increased 75% in 2019, and so far in 2020, that momentum seems to be still there. As Gen Z and the Millennial demographic dominate in a growing percentage of global purchasing power within the market, and consumers of all ages have been stuck at home with more time than ever to re-evaluate their priorities when shopping, I don’t see the hype dying down.
IF: What would be your hope evoking message for the future of fashion?
Akhil: As difficult as 2020 has been, it has created perhaps the greatest opportunity ever for sustainable fashion. With all eyes on global impact, recovery and setting a new normal, every stakeholder in the value chain can participate in a solution to the wasteful problems that have haunted the fashion industry for decades. Collaboration is at its peak, and if we do this right, we can set a green normal for the industry in 2020, one which will be carried far beyond this crisis.