This season we’re expanding the use of G-1000 Eco, the newest member of our G-1000 family. So we sat down with Christiane Dolva, our sustainability manager, to find out exactly what it is and why we’re slowly replacing G-1000 Original with this Eco version.

Christiane Dolva, head of sustainability at Fjällräven

So what exactly is G-1000 Eco?
“It’s basically a better version, sustainability speaking, of our G-1000. It’s made from recycled polyester and organic cotton, instead of regular polyester and cotton. Some materials we use don’t always have an obvious better alternative. But sometimes there are alternatives that are clearly better sustainability wise; organic cotton and recycled polyester are two of these materials. So for us G-1000 Eco is a ‘step one’ when it comes to more sustainable materials.”

How does this transpire into clear environmental benefits?
“For recycled polyester it means the polyester is already in the system so we’re not using new raw materials. In fact, we’re preventing it from ending up in landfill. This means less waste is created and less energy is needed to manufacture it.”

“For cotton, the main benefit is a reduction in the amount of chemicals because chemical fertilisers are forbidden. This has both an environmental benefit, by not spreading toxins through the soil or air. But it’s also better for the people working with the cotton, as they aren’t exposed to dangerous chemicals. There are also some other secondary benefits, too. For example, some studies have shown that organic cotton is often grown in areas that are rain fed, so they aren’t irrigated, resulting in less water use. Also if you calculate the amount of fossil fuels that go into making fertilisers, the fact that organic cotton doesn’t use these means the C02 emissions used to grow it are lower. But it’s still a crop that needs land to grow and it’s thirsty and drinks a lot of water. So the chemical part is the most important.”

Sounds great. But what about the quality – is it affected?
“Not anymore. But this was a huge challenge at the beginning. Organic cotton fibres were weaker than conventional cotton fibres and also recycling deteriorates the quality of the material with every cycle. So there were some changes that we needed to make to ensure we didn’t lose quality and durability. But now this has improved and we’re really happy with the quality of both the recycled polyester and the organic cotton.”

Why are recycled and organic materials more expensive?
“With organic it makes more sense, I think. You need to use different fertilisers that might result in lower yields. But with recycled, it’s a little illogical. You’d think that reused materials, like plastic bottles, should be cheaper than crude oil. But this is largely controlled by the global oil price. When the price goes down the challenge of competing with virgin polyester is hard. But it’s also about demand. More and more companies want to switch to recycled materials and with demand up but supply remaining the same, prices rise. Plus the supply of raw materials are greater so this also impacts the price. It’s actually pretty basic economics. And it’s out of our control.”

So if it’s so great, why haven’t we switched all our G-1000 to G-1000 Eco?
“We’re taking conversion one step at a time. From 2015 we decided that any new style we develop with G-1000 has to use the eco version. But since we make stuff that’s timeless and lasts, we have a lot of styles that are on-going and were designed years ago. They all use G-1000 Original. The problem is, recycled polyester and organic cotton are a lot more expensive than their less environmentally friendly versions. So we’re taking it one season a time. This is to ensure it’s good for our suppliers, our customers and us. We have to make sure the quality isn’t going to change. People have gotten used to the same look and feel of a long-standing product so we don’t want to suddenly change this without checking the quality. But we’ll get there. All of our new Greenland Updated collection is made with G-1000 Eco. This is a big step forward for us.”

 

Text: Sarah Benton