In 1991, Volcom was the first riding Company born around snowboarding, skateboarding and surfing with a major philosophy “Youth Against Establishment”, only to launch their first sustainability program – Volcom Verde- as early as 2005. Since those wild beginnings, the Volcom Stone has spread around the world and the company has matured internally in an ongoing effort of turning sustainability commitments into actions, with responsible manufacturing practices, better fiber sourcing, assessing its impacts, and meaningful give backs.
MAKING CLOTHES CAN BE A DIRTY BUSINESS: A COMBAT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
VOLCOM & REPREVE RECYCLED POLYESTER
The abundance of plastics that are used in our daily lives, plastic bottles included, is becoming a global environmental and social issue that we can no longer ignore. On the other hand, in an effort to address the impacts of their raw materials sourcing, Volcom partnered with Repreve in 2012 and started including Repreve’s fiber made from recycled plastic bottles in their T-shirts, helping recycle the equivalent of more than 10 million plastic bottles since then. Being aware that more than 65% of the environmental impacts associated with their products are from raw material extraction and processing, they eliminate the sourcing of virgin raw materials to reduce their impacts.
Watch the video below for a brief look at the process or take a deep dive through the entire step by step process on this episode of Discovery Channel?s How It’s Made.
After evaluating all the stages required to produce a pair of denim jeans, the impact they could most immediately address was the usage of water in the finishing processes of Volcom jeans. The brand worked with the factories that produce their denim to switch to enzyme wash and ozone finishing techniques and combine traditionally separate wet cycles into single processes. Inspired by the Water-Less techniques developed by Levi’s and using their Open Source: Water Innovation guide, something they hope that other brands adopt as best practices too.
To date, Volcom has saved over 4.5 million liters* of water since the program’s introduction in 2019.
FARM TO YARN
However, the largest amounts of water used in making jeans is associated with cotton growing, followed by the consumer’s care, which is why Volcom in partnership with the social enterprise CottonConnect, launched : a socially conscious raw materials initiative in India that features certified organic cotton that’s traceable back to the farm. Volcom is combating climate change and the impacts of making clothes by committing to organic cotton farmers which use self-made compost, manure, and natural pest control. Their commitment includes developing customer educational material to urge them to reduce their impact once they take their jeans home as well as practices, such as GMO testing to ensure seeds are GMO-free or tracking of tested seed to farmer, ensuring tested seeds are planted. These practices help decrease costs, increase yields, and double the farmers’ profits.
HEMP IS BACK IN A BIG WAY
At Volcom, they’re not new to this, they are True To This. In fact, this general vision dates back nearly more than a decade and it was back in 2006 when the V Stone brand introduced hemp into the line for the first time; now it’s back in a big way. Hemp is a wonder fiber with at least 30,000 uses and an awesome sustainability profile. Better fiber sourcing is an important priority in Volcom’s sustainability strategy, and hemp, considered one of the oldest fibers to be used in textiles, contributes greatly to the portfolio and ongoing sustainability mission.
- More info in this study by the Stockholm Environment Institute that measured hemp’s ecological footprint.
Making clothes often leaves farmers exploited and women stuck in adversity. Volcom is combating this exploitation by joining forces with CottonConnect in Farm to Yarn, aimed to improve the quality of life in farming communities providing social and professional education programs for the farmers and the women in the farming villages.
In February of 2018, Volcom was officially voted in by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) as an accredited ‘member;’ an achievement Volcom has had its sights set on since 2014. it’s a badge that sets the brand apart and recognizes the commitment and diligence that has been put into their social compliance program over the last twelve years.
Volcom is envisioning a new future where our oceans are strong, our climate is stable, and our societies are fully engaged.
We, at Splitboardmag share Volcom’s vision and we would like to encourage you to make conscious decisions when it comes to choosing what you wear. In the end, as consumers, we have the last word and the responsibility to shape a new future for the planet and humanity.
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