News: Slow fashion first for new sustainability standard

Dona Rufina fashion shoot

Brazilian brand Dona Rufina has become the first name in fashion to obtain certification for environmental sustainability and social accountability under a dedicated new standard for the sector. The Sustainable Fashion scheme has been launched by Friend of the Earth, the international project for certification of products from sustainable agriculture and farming, in a bid to reduce the environmental and social impact of the fashion industry.

Statistics for the unsustainability of fast fashion are well documented: Estimates have labelled the industry responsible for 10% of global CO2 emissions and 20% of world wastewater. Its environmental impacts are disproportionately large — cotton production alone, for instance, consumes 24% of insecticides and 11% of pesticides used in agriculture, despite covering just 3% of arable land. Poverty, labour rights and gender issues are all supply-chain concerns in a sector where 80% of the workforce are women.

Products carrying the new Friend of the Earth Sustainable Fashion ecolabel undergo a rigorous independent audit process to verify compliance with strict sustainability requirements, which include protection of wild fauna and flora, appropriate management of water, energy and waste, plus social accountability.

Focused on the conservation of ecosystems, the Friend of the Earth project was launched in 2016 on the initiative of Paolo Bray, founder and director of the World Sustainability Organisation (WSO), based in Italy and operating worldwide.

Slow fashion and female empowerment

Dona Rufina is a ‘slow-fashion’ company founded and managed by designer Luciana Bulcão and run mainly by local women. It aims to preserve and enhance the Brazilian Pampa cultural tradition and protect the enviroment.

The brand’s first collection of bags, shoes and accessories has been conceived as a tribute to the women described by the famous Brazilian writer Érico Veríssimo. It was born out of Luciana Bulcão’s travels in the southern region of Bagé and Lavras do Sul, where she met the artisan custodians of this tradition.

The resulting project not only seeks to help reactivate local economies, but also to promote female empowerment, explains Dona Rufina Founder and Designer, Luciana Bulcão:

Wool was losing its value as a raw material. Young women didn’t have the same interest as their grandmothers in this ancient artisanal knowledge.”

As such, the Dona Rufina initiative is a perfect fit for the WSO fashion standard, adds Friend of the Earth Founder, Paolo Bray:

Dona Rufina’s project reflects the founding values behind our new certification dedicated to sustainable fashion. Its resuse of wool reduces the impact of production on the environment.”

Friend of the Earth Certification

Focused on the conservation of ecosystems, the Friend of the Earth project was launched in 2016 on the initiative of Paolo Bray, founder and director of the World Sustainability Organisation (WSO), based in Italy and operating worldwide.

Friend of the Earth is an international certification scheme for sustainable agriculture and breeding (not to be confused with the global NGO Friends of the Earth). It was developed on the basis of the Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture (SAFA) systems guidelines set by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and its principles are based on the safeguarding and protection of the entire ecosystem, within which certified companies carry out their activities.

Food products, textiles and fashion from sustainable agriculture and farming can all be certified Friend of the Earth. In total, over a thousand companies have now had products certified by WSO programmes in over 70 countries.

In addition, Friend of the Earth deploys its own conservation projects and campaigns to protect endangered species and habitats. The WSO also operates a Friend of the Sea certification scheme.


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