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Archive for the ‘Alliances’ Category

Climbing Alert: Protect What’s Holy

November 19th, 2012

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The Holy Boulders has been one of Illinois’ best kept secrets and my backyard bouldering area for almost a decade. For years, members of the climbing community have been able to enjoy this area responsibly due in part to the relationship that local climbers have forged with the landowners. This area has drawn professional athletes from across the United States including Jimmy Webb, Alex Johnson, Jamie Emerson, Angie Payne, and Jason Kehl. Having traveled extensively around the globe, these individuals know firsthand how precious and rare an area like the Holy Boulders can be. Recently, ownership of this land has changed, putting this area at risk of indefinite closure. The secret is out, and now we need your help to protect this brilliant natural resource for future generations.

With assistance from the Access Fund’s Land Conservation Campaign, we have temporarily acquired the Holy Boulders through a short-term financing initiative. However, we are now looking for more sustainable, long-term solutions to protect access. An additional $185,000 is needed to secure ownership of this land, and we are reaching out to the community for help and financial support. The Holy Boulders is currently open for public use.
Check out the donation page, directions, and mini-guide.

Please help protect what’s holy and donate to the cause. ~ David Chancellor, ClimbSoIll

With a narrow window of opportunity, the Access Fund temporarily purchased the Holy Boulders to save this incredible area from indefinite closure under new ownership. Now we need your help to raise an additional $185,000 to secure permanent ownership of Holy Boulders and transfer it to a long-term owner that will keep it open to climbing access for future generations. Please donate now to protect this special Southern Illinois climbing area

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Conservation Alliance Summer 2012 Grant

October 10th, 2012

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We are pleased to announce the results of The Conservation Alliance Summer 2012 Funding Cycle.  We have awarded $700,000 to the 19 organizations listed below.  This brings our total 2012 grant contributions to $1.3 million.  Many great conservation opportunities lie ahead, and we are excited to be able to support these important initiatives. ~The Conservation Alliance

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Fair Trade: Small Countries Big Impact

October 4th, 2012

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Nepal and Swaziland – Small Countries, Big Impact

I don’t speak Nepali. So I didn’t know what to say when I took off my shoes, ducked my head, and stepped into the low-ceilinged room where 30 women sat crossed legged around the perimeter of the room knitting hats by hand. I just sat next to them, observed and smiled.

This is East-West Handicrafts in Bhaktapur, Nepal, in the Kathmandu Valley. The women are knitting hats for prAna. I was there to shadow a Fair Trade audit at the facility, which applied for certification under Fair Trade USA’s innovative program to certify apparel and accessories that meet the highest social and environmental production standards.

I was joined by Jekib and Gopal, experienced social auditors from an NGO based in Delhi, and Aartha, a young woman from Kathmandu who interviewed workers in Nepali. John and Sarita, the brother and sister that started the company, answered our detailed questions about how they track wages and hours, how they recruit workers, and how workers complain if they have a problem.

This woman, Manju, knits for East-West Handicrafts. With that income, she puts her two children through school. Her daughter is in college studying medical science. She wants to be a lab technician. Education is essential in Nepal, where political instability has dampened the economy, leaving Nepalese to struggle while they watch neighboring India and China grow GDP by 5-9% annually.

You might not think of it when you buy a simple knit hat to play in the snow, but someone thousands of miles away – like these women in Kathmandu – made it just for you. The average American buys 64 items of clothing a year. Each one, including the knit hat, follows its own journey on its way to you. Each one has a story and touches lives.

When you look for the Fair Trade Certified™ label, you support Manju and women like her around the world. In return, you get quality products that improve lives and protect the environment.

Next month, the women at East-West Handicrafts will participate in training by a local grassroots group called Fair Trade Group Nepal. They’ll learn about Fair Trade standards, about their rights under local and international law, and how they are connected to you through the threads they knit.

prAna is also supporting women in Mbabane, Swaziland. Their community has been badly affected by HIV and the women have few income opportunities. They produce bags for prAna and want to get Fair Trade certification so they can sell more bags and rebuild their community. Fair Trade USA enlisted the help of local partners SWIFT (Swaziland Fair Trade) and Partner Africa to conduct Fair Trade training and audit with the 45 women at Community Crafts Exports.

After the training, the women were asked the most important thing they learned. “We don’t have to be exploited or abused at work.” One woman said, “And we need to save money in the bank.”

Wear prAna proudly and stay tuned for details on the Fair Trade journey of East-West Handicrafts in Nepal and Community Crafts Exports in Swaziland.

~Heather Franzese, FairTradeUSA

Guest blogger Heather Franzese leads the Apparel & Linens pilot program at Fair Trade USA. For over 12 years, she has promoted improved working conditions in global supply chains and, through that work, has traveled to 46 countries. She currently supports two prAna suppliers in their journey to achieve Fair Trade certification, East-West Handicraft in Nepal and Community Crafts Exports Pvt. Ltd in Swaziland.

“Like” FairTradeUSA on Facebook (Facebook.com/fairtradecertified) this Month and enter to win free Fair Trade Certified™ products!

You can also support Fair Trade this month and all year long!

Just use these easy resources http://fairtradeusa.org/resources/campaigns


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Conservation Alliance: {worthWILD} Our Rivers

October 2nd, 2012

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Today, many of the nation’s whitewater rivers are threatened by water storage or diversion to supply water to urban sprawl. The Conservation Alliance, American Whitewater and KEEN see the importance of healthy rivers for humans, fish, and the beauty of our landscape, and are actively working to preserve and protect them from such imminent threats. Their efforts have led to securing flow protections for iconic Colorado rivers, blocking the Flaming Gorge Pipeline Project on the Green River, and dam removals including the Dillsboro Dam on the Tuckasegee River and the Condit Dam on the White Salmon River. This documentary shows how outdoor brands and organizations are working together to save whitewater rivers by bringing down dams, protecting water flows and habitats, and providing outdoor recreationalists with places to adventure!

Learn more about Conservation Alliance at ConservationAlliance.com and American Whitewater at AmericanWhitewater.org

What rivers in your area are in need of help? Tell us in the comments below and we’ll share the info!


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10 Surprising Fair Trade Certified Products

October 1st, 2012

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October is Fair Trade Month!

It’s a time to celebrate all of the good that we have done for farmers and workers through Fair Trade so far and unite to build awareness of the cause so that it will continue to thrive. Maybe someday it will become as common as organics, or even the new norm?!

If you’re not quite sure how Fair Trade works, take a detour and head over to Fair Trade USA’s website for a quick overview.

Fair Trade Month is also a great time to highlight the diverse range of Fair Trade Certified products that are available in more than 100,000 retail locations in North America. That’s right, Fair Trade is so much more than just coffee, cocoa and tea!

Here are some awesome Fair Trade Certified products that might surprise you:

1. prAna’s Fair Trade Certified clothing line

prAna was one of the first brands to partner with Fair Trade USA to bring Fair Trade to the apparel industry. Not only does the program support cotton farmers, it also brings safer working conditions, community development funds and freedom of association to factory workers.

2. Popcorn, Indiana Drizzled Cinnamon Sugar Kettlecorn

This beyond-delicious popcorn is sweetened with Fair Trade Certified cinnamon and sugar. My mouth is watering just writing about it.

3. Pumpkin Spice Coffee

Ok, I had to mention one coffee, but only because it’s a limited edition that makes a special appearance every Fair Trade Month. You can order it in bagged or K-Cup form from Green Mountain Coffee.

4. Guayusa

Have you heard about the new tea in town? It has almost as much caffeine as coffee, but it gives you “focused energy” that is perfect for studying, writing and checking items off you to-do list. It comes from an indigenous tribe in the Ecuadorian Amazon with an incredible story.

5. Agave

Seems like agave is the hottest sweetener among the health conscious. It’s 1.4 times sweeter than sugar so you can use less and save calories (and support farming communities). Look for Fair Trade Certified Agave syrup from Madhava. Perhaps Fair Trade Certified tequila is on the horizon?

6. Wine and Spirits

That brings me to Fair Trade Certified wine and spirits. Look for Wandering Grape Malbec Merlot (available at Target) or try FAIR. Quinoa – the first vodka made from Fair Trade Certified quinoa from Bolivia.

7. Roses

Did you know that almost all of the roses sold in the United States come from Colombia and Ecuador? The flower industry is largely supported by women who are working in tough conditions with lots of pesticides. Fair Trade ensures safe working conditions, reduced chemical usage and better wages. You can find Fair Trade Certified roses at Whole Foods Market or online at One World Flowers.

8. Soccer Balls

Make your game a little fairer with a Fair Trade Certified soccer ball. Fair Trade ensures that all workers in the supply chain – factory workers and stitchers – receive at least the national minimum wage and work in safe conditions.

9. Soap

Clean up your act with a bar of Fair Trade Certified soap, like this one from Hand-in-Hand. It’s made with Fair Trade cocoa butter, smells amazing and for every bar you buy, another bar is donated to kids and families who need it (like orphanages in Haiti – how cool is that?).

10. Lip Balm

Put your money where your mouth is. These amazing lip balms from Badger Balm are made with Fair Trade Certified cocoa butter and are packed with antioxidants for a beautiful smile.

~Katie Barrow, Senior Manager of Communications at Fair Trade USA

Learn more about Fair Trade USA at FairTradeUSA.org and join them on Twitter and Facebook!

Will you Share this post to help inform others about the Fair Trade Movement?

Just comment in the section below!

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Outdoor Outreach Spotlight: Nancy Tran

September 9th, 2012

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I am 23 years young. I grew up in City Heights where my mother and I experienced the brunt of domestic violence. Because of this, I attended five different elementary schools while growing up. During my childhood, I avoided home as much as I could and spent a lot of my time in after-school activities, public libraries, and recreation centers. I then went on to attend Hoover High School from 2002 to 2006. During my time there, I was surrounded by drugs, gang violence, and teen pregnancy. I watched my peers, who I grew up with and have known since elementary school, drop out one by one. I strove to succeed and be part of the students that graduated. I wanted to leave the inner city in pursuit of higher education. I wanted a different life than those I grew up with, so I continued to involve myself in many extracurricular activities during high school in order to keep myself away from all destructive distractions around me. One of my favorite extracurricular activities was the Outdoor Outreach Adventure Club.

My involvement with the Adventure Club at Hoover had a huge impact on my life. I’ll never forget when Chris Rutgers (O.O. Founder) took us surfing. I had always been terrified of water, and didn’t know how to swim due to my lack of access to the beach and pools. I remember feeling safe and comfortable out in the water after Chris had taught us the basics and equipped us with the necessary tools. He was very vigilant, patient, and extremely helpful. To me, it was a very empowering experience, because despite my inability to swim, I had overcome my fear of open waters, and learned something fun and new. My involvement in the Adventure Club became more thorough during my senior year, as became the President of the club. I wanted to be as involved as possible and helped fund-raise as I believed in the goal of Outdoor Outreach – it indeed reached out and allowed my peers access to activities they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. It was a very powerful and productive involvement for many students, and the membership of the club increased every year to reflect this.

I went on to be part of the 45% that graduated from Hoover High School, just as I had planned, and attended the University of California, Berkeley shortly after. I obtained my degree in Economics four years later and never strayed from my goal of graduating. During my college years, I kept active and continued to venture outdoors; I went running, hiking, biking, and rock climbing to name a few. I was able to balance a healthy lifestyle with my working and academic life. I believe a healthy body contributes to a healthy mind and soul, thus am a strong advocate for an active lifestyle. Upon graduation, I moved back down to San Diego, obtained a full-time position as an Analyst, and now volunteer for Outdoor Outreach. I believe in what it stands for and want to give back as much as I can to the young members of my community. I love working with the high school students and being a part of their life, as I see a little of myself in them and can relate to where they come from. I will never forget everything Chris and Outdoor Outreach did for me as a teen, and the positive impact it’s had on my life since. I would like to thank Chris and his team for everything they have done for me and my community.

~Nancy Tran, Outdoor Outreach Ambassador


Outdoor Outreach’s mission is to empower at-risk and underprivileged youth to make positive lasting changes in their lives through comprehensive outdoor programming. We use outdoor activities to provide youth with the support, resources and opportunities they need to become successful adults. For more information on how you can help visit http://www.outdooroutreach.org/ and join them on Facebook, Twitter & Vimeo.


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Conservation Alliance: (worthWILD) BADLANDS

August 31st, 2012

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The FootZone is a small, independent shoe store with a big commitment to their community. The shop and its owner Teague Hatfield showed that protecting the Badlands was good for business. At the time, the economy was struggling. So this business voice had a great influence on decision makers locally and in Washington. Learn how you can support the Conservation Alliance at http://www.conservationalliance.com and join the conversation at www.facebook.com/conservationalliance

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Fit Can Be Just a Walk Around the Block | ACE

August 30th, 2012

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American Council on Exercise | Getting in shape can be as simple as getting out into your neighborhood.

What do you think of when they hear the word “fit?” Do you picture an Olympic athlete? Maybe you imagine a gym or an outdoor activity such as hiking or biking? Years ago, the word “fit” made me think of lifting weights, eating healthy, playing sports and running. That was until one day, I got an unexpected definition of what it meant. After that, being “fit” took on a whole new meaning.

After many surgeries to the hips and knees, a pacemaker and a fairly hard hit to his self-confidence, a client in his late 70s approached me with the desire to be “fit.” We decided on a program with cardiovascular, resistance, postural and balance training twice a week. He felt most comfortable on a bike for cardio, which seemed appropriate at the time.

He was usually quiet, so conversations sometimes didn’t come easy. Every week, I asked him questions to find out more about his lifestyle. “What did you eat today?” “What will you do when you get home?” “How are you feeling?” The answers were consistently short every time.

After several months of this routine, he gave me an unexpected answer. I asked him what his plans were once he got home, and his response was, “I plan to go home and sleep.” I asked why and he said, “I’m not as fit as I used to be several years ago.” What a funny thing to say after a workout with me in the gym! I asked him to define “fit,” and he said he could only walk from his house to the car anymore. After more questions and some clarification on my part, he hesitantly agreed that his program should include walking outside. His definition of “fit” was directly related to his ability to walk better. Weight training and biking was only half the equation; we had discovered the missing piece … walking outside.

The following week, it was a challenge to get him to walk around the block. He was afraid of tripping or falling, but I reassured him that I would be there every step of the way. He had to stop twice to take short breaks but made it back to the gym with more ease than he expected. Witnessing his joy and sensing his trust in me was the most satisfaction I had at the gym in a while. After working on this small task for several weeks, a new sense of freedom and increased confidence in him was obvious. Being fit suddenly meant taking a walk around the block, which most of us take for granted.

Now, after being in the fitness industry for 12 years, my definition of being “fit” has changed. Fitness is different for each person. It’s our job as personal trainers to help each individual client discover and create their own definition of fitness, along with science-based guidance. Helping people to listen more carefully to their bodies and discovering its true needs before introducing the latest trendy workout is what I enjoy most about being a personal trainer.


I have always believed that inspiring others to live a healthy and fit life is accomplished by setting the example. Eat healthy, be happy and exercise. Often times, it’s easier said than done. By leading a healthy lifestyle people are indeed drawn to you, but working as a team with your client is the key to positive change. There is great power in customizing the exercise experience for each individual and constantly re-evaluating the plan.

Trainers can no longer just count reps for their clients. They need to practice active listening and goal-setting skills to succeed. This is only possible if the trainer has a solid foundation of science in anatomy and physiology. There are many topics to learn and master as a personal trainer, but psychology is often the missing link.

I have come a long way in my career, earned many certifications, supervised programs and staff, recorded videos, written articles and taught courses for personal trainers. I am continually amazed at the power of finding someone’s “gold medal.” It can be a walk around the block, lifting a grandchild, looking good for a wedding or even working toward competing in the Olympics. These goals are all unique to the individual, and it’s our job to help people discover and develop their own vision of fitness.

~Beverly Hosford, MA, MATcs, ACE Certified Personal Trainer

How do you stay in shape and are regular walks part of your daily exercise regime? Tell us in the comments below!


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America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2012

May 19th, 2012

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The U.S. Most Endangered Rivers ~via  American Rivers (AmericanRivers.org)

We all need clean water. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Fresh water is crucial to every living thing on our planet. Most of our drinking water comes from rivers. And rivers and streams also give us places to fish, boat and swim – not to mention homes for wildlife.

Today, American Rivers sounded the alarm for clean water and healthy rivers with its annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers report.

American Rivers named the Potomac, which flows through our nation’s capital, the #1 Most Endangered River in the country because of pollution, and the fact that essential clean water protections are under attack in Congress.

As ‘the nation’s river,’ the Potomac is emblematic of what’s at stake for rivers and public health nationwide.

Take action today – stand up for clean water! Help protect America’s #1 Most Endangered River and rivers nationwide.

In 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson called the Potomac “a national disgrace” because the river was a cesspool of sewage and industrial chemicals. President Johnson’s remark was one of many catalysts for the Clean Water Act of 1972, which started the resurgence of the Potomac and rivers across the country.

This year, 2012, marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. We’ve made great progress — thanks to the tireless work of so many, the Potomac and thousands of other water bodies are cleaner and healthier. But now clean water safeguards are under attack in Congress, leaving drinking water supplies and places where we fish, boat, and swim at risk.

Today, it’s time for Americans to stand up for their health, their environment and their communities by protecting clean water. When you take action you will help save America’s #1 Most Endangered River, and you will help ensure clean water in rivers nationwide.

Want to learn more about America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2012?

The following ten rivers made the list this year:

1. Potomac River (Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Washington D.C.)

• Threat: Pollution; Clean Water Act rollbacks

• At risk: Clean water and public health

2. Green River (Wyoming, Utah, Colorado)

• Threat: Water withdrawals

• At risk: Recreation opportunities; fish and wildlife habitat

3. Chattahoochee River (Georgia)

• Threat: New dams and reservoirs

• At risk: Clean water and healthy fisheries

4. Missouri River (Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming)

• Threat: Outdated flood management

• At risk: Public safety

5. Hoback River (Wyoming)

• Threat: Natural gas development

• At risk: Clean water and public health

6. Grand River (Ohio)

• Threat: Natural gas development

• At risk: Clean water and public health

7. South Fork Skykomish River (Washington)

• Threat: New dam

• At risk: Recreation and wilderness

8. Crystal River (Colorado)

• Threat: Dams and water diversions

• At risk: Fish, wildlife, and recreation

9. Coal River (West Virginia)

• Threat: Mountaintop removal coal mining

• At risk: Clean water and public health

10. Kansas River (Kansas)

• Threat: Sand and gravel dredging

• At risk: Clean water and wildlife habitat

Learn more about all of America’s Most Endangered Rivers and find out how you can get involved at http://www.americanrivers.org!

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Textile Exchange: Earth Day Series

April 25th, 2012

As we awaken ourselves this spring, we felt it was a perfect opportunity to focus on the idea of ORGANIC. Each week in April we are bringing you a voice from the organic movement to share with you details on the subject, why this is important to you and how prAna is mindfully navigating organic in our own business.  Previous Earth Day Series posts include Annie’s and Hood River Garlic. This post on Organics comes from Textile Exchange and will be followed by posts from our own Director of Sustainability, Nicole Bassett. Tell us your thoughts…

prAna: Tell us about your organization Liesl (Liesl Truscott, Farm Engagement Director, Textile Exchange) and why organic is a part of the values and your strategy

Liesl: Textile Exchange started life as Organic Exchange. We have an industry-wide agenda these days, but our roots (excuse the pun) were in organic cotton and continue to be today. This year we celebrate our 10th birthday and our commitment to organic cotton remains core to what we do.

Organic cotton has changed radically over the past decade. Production has expanded rapidly so there is more organic in the market, there have been major advancements in product quality and innovation has radically improved product design, with fantastic choices in the collections available today.

At Textile Exchange we are taking our learning from organic and applying it to other areas of textile sustainability. This is an exciting time for us, but we know there is still much more to do in organic agriculture. Our farm team, with colleagues in India, Latin America, and Africa, continue to devote almost all our time to supporting our organic cotton community. This allows us to raise the visibility of organic cotton producers, manufacturers, and brands. We are always researching so we can communicate the proven benefits.

prAna: Often people will say – why should I buy organic clothing/textiles it’s not like I am eating it. What else should people be thinking of when they support organic?

Liesl: With organic food it’s an easier win-win. We all want healthy, safe, nutritious and tasty food. There’s a direct and personal benefit. The benefits to growers and the environment is an added benefit. That same concept needs to be central to a consumer’s choice for organic cotton. Hence the need for more customer education and exposure.

Over the years, I have subscribed to the concept of ‘choice editing’. There is too much choice in clothing on the market. Not to mention how cheap some of it has got. How can a t-shirt be sold for one dollar? Who has been exploited along the way and how much has it ‘cost’ the planet? So I only allow myself organic, Fairtrade, recycled poly etc, or ‘pre-loved’ clothing. Sometimes I select items from brands and retailers that I know are working hard to do the right thing even if the actual garment has no specific credentials. For me, it means most of my clothes have a story behind them – almost an identity of their own. I can’t feel good in clothes that might have exploited people – or harmed the planet – as they were being made.

Increasingly designers are wanting to be eco and ethical, they see these criteria as synonymous with a quality product. This makes my choice editing a no-brainer! I get both, the satisfaction of supporting greener production and something really special to wear. It’s fair to say that an organic product might be more expensive than one that’s not, but not always by much, and I’d rather contribute to ethical production. There is an element of trust that supply chain contributors, including farmers, are benefiting from this price tag. But I think there is more work needed to improve trade conditions for organic.

prAna: What is the impact of organic, not only on the environment, but on farm workers and people in the supply chain?

Liesl: For those that like numbers, the agricultural sector has a lot on its plate these days – and big job ahead. The sector produces 10-12 percent of the worlds greenhouse gases (up to 30 percent if you include land clearing for more agriculture) (IPCC), it uses 70 percent of the planets water supply (OECD), and continues to pump 5.2 billion pounds of pesticides into the environment each year (EPA). Apparently we are losing the equivalent of five to seven million hectares of farmland through erosion each year (peopleandplanet), and unimaginable numbers of species through land clearing (often for agriculture). I’m talking about agriculture generally – not just cotton – but ‘conventional’ farming practices; typically monocultures, dependent on agrichemicals and irrigated water, and increasingly GMO seed, are placing a significant burden on the environment. Yet hardly to the benefit of the world’s small scale farmers (of which Greenpeace report there are 2.6 billion). These men and women (and approximately 45 percent are women) are busy producing the majority (70 percent) of the worlds food (Gia Foundation). Society and trade needs to better support these people and contribute to their sustainable development, not keep them in poverty on degraded landscapes.

The scientific community knows so much more these days about the role organic plays in our understanding of food and fiber production systems; ranging from technical innovation on one hand to addressing the ‘pro poor’ agenda on the other. Basically, this means creating scenarios that reduce risk for farmers and enable farmers to develop, gain independence, and go on to taking more responsibility for their own communities (rather than be dependent on others). We need the agro-ecological knowledge, tradition, and science organic agriculture contains. Equally, we need to improve livelihoods and quality of life for the world’s small scale food and fiber growers.

Even if we never see ‘organic’ as the dominant form of agriculture around the world, the lessons it provides, and the precautionary principle it embodies means organic is critical to our understanding of how humans can work together with nature – not against it – to feed and clothe the world. The closed-loop cycle of organic agriculture means nutrients are recycled, organic matter (which plant growth depends upon) is built up not used up, polycultures rather than monocultures support biodiversity and keep production systems balanced and yields robust in the longer term without increasingly expensive agrichemicals (we have now ‘peaked’ in available phosphate) and fossil fuels. Lessons from organic in an increasingly water scarce and carbon restricted world are critical to understanding how to farm in the future. Bottom line is organic farming is mind-blowingly sophisticated yet beautifully simple all at the same time – reflecting the processes of nature.

The other point with organic, if we return to our 2.6 billion small scale farmers, is that we know around 1 billion people around the world are hungry (Soil Association). Organic farming systems, for all sorts of on-farm reasons, promote the growing of a mix of crops. Among these crops can be staple food crops, fruit and vegetables. For me, this must be one of the most critical advantages of organic – its polycultural status. The thought of food producers going hungry is appalling. The other point, and it’s connected to this, is that according the World Health Organisation, 5 million incidents of harm and more than 200,000 fatalities occur every year from pesticides, most of them in developing countries (PAN, 2005) –and these are only the ones reported. The food grown and stored on organic farms is safe in terms of containing no chemical residue. Plus pregnant and new mothers can work safely on organic farms, children can play safely, and accidental exposure to toxic chemicals simply won’t happen.

prAna: What relationship do you see with organic food and organic clothing, like organic cotton?

Liesl: The connection is there right at the farm level. From the increased food security through to smart business strategies for farmers. Like all business people, it makes sense for farmers to spread their risk and opportunities. For example, if the cotton is less successful one year for whatever reason then a second income can be made from an alternative cash crop. For organic cotton farmers, other high-value rotation crops such as sesame, and border crops such as mangoes, will be economically valuable. Many organic farmers in India are growing lentils, grams, and spices for market. In Africa it might be fonio, and sesame and collecting ingredients such as Shea butter which goes into beauty products. The opportunity to engage in value-adding such as pressing oils, and pulping or drying fruit is another great economic advantage. However, it takes another level of skill, organisation, and market savvy to manage all this. More capacity building and improved trade security can help farmers take this next step. Furthermore, crop diversification is proving a valuable tool for climate change adaptation, as our weather continues to become more unpredictable, particularly in the global South.

The other relationship worth mentioning is that organic certification is based on the organic status of the land, not the specific crop. This means as long as the land is treated as organic the farmer can, to some extent, pick and choose what she or he grows.

prAna: What would you tell fans of prAna to think about when they are making purchases of organic cotton?

Liesl: I would tell them to really consider their choices and where they put their money. I’d also urge parents to think about the legacy they want for their children. Consumer choice is such a powerful thing – not always acknowledged by us all.

Getting back to that concept of choice editing, there is a mass of fast fashion out there. And with new collections coming out so frequently being built to last is not a selling point (for fast fashion). Persuading people to buy clothes that are not designed to be thrown away is a difficult sell, especially for young people with limited money in their pockets and wanting to possess that split second ‘must have’ fashion item. So it is important to bring people to a deeper sense of awareness. I think it’s the responsibility of companies to help out, to lead their customers on the journey towards more sustainable consumption.

I think a deeper appreciation of quality, ‘specialness’, and ethical production is growing – in some circles it is becoming ‘classy’. It’s evident in the efforts fashion brands are making to counter-act a throw-away culture and connect their customers to the eco qualities of their products. prAna is the perfect example; fusing positive customer messaging with clear eco and people-centred values… and being prepared to take the lead. Definitely a company to watch!

Check out prAna’s current Organic styles HERE!

~Liesl Truscott, Director of Farm Engagement, Textile Exchange

Liesl has been director of Textile Exchange’s Farm team for over 3 years now and one of the five senior advisors to the organisation, supporting the managing director. Liesl’s background is in environmental systems and she has a first class degree in Environmental Assessment and Management, she is also a certified environmental and OHS systems auditor. During her time in Australia, Liesl wrote a Code of Practice on health and safety (including safety with agro-chemicals) for the viticultural industry of New South Wales. Since being in the UK Liesl worked as the Sustainability Manager for Croydon Council; and led Croydon to become the first ‘Fairtrade’ Borough in London. She has experience with global corporations on Corporate Social Responsibility thorough her time as CSR Index Manager for Business in the Community and later as a consultant. Liesl focuses on researching, developing, and promoting the opportunities for farmers that organic represents.

You can learn more about Textile Exchange at http://textileexchange.org and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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