Getting to the Roots with The Impossible Fibre Gals

The Impossible Fibre project is an initiative we are taking on to find a solution to recycling our products into new fibre.
Sounds simple, right? It most definitely isn’t as there are currently significant issues with recycling textiles due to blended materials, contaminants, quality issues and chemically made fibers along with capacity restraints and many other roadblocks. You can learn more about the project here. 
Let's get to know the gals that are taking on this project working to create significant change in the world. 
       
Sara Blenkhorn

Sara is one badass disrupter who brings an authentic and transparent approach to creating change by leveraging relationships and facilitating collaboration between businesses, government, and civil society. She is passionate about sustainability and ripping open supply chains to see challenges and leverage points. Born in Canada and raised in Mexico, Sara is fluent in Spanish. Her passion for engaging people, paired with her love for travel, gifted her with a vast network and an uncanny ability to know who to connect to and when; finding ways of working across silos and building collaborations that are in service to a wider agenda. 

1. What motivated you to start working at Sitka with a focus on this project? I mean, it’s called impossible for a reason, it’s currently impossible! Why do you think Sitka can do it?

I share the combination of leadership, optimism, and passion for change held by the CEO Rene. We might be naive and perhaps a bit crazy but name me an innovation that didn’t require these ingredients.

2. What excites you most about being a part of the Sitka workforce?

Being on a team of rockstars that has the potential to make a massive change for the entire industry.

3. You both are very clearly passionate about what you do. What are some everyday things you do to contribute to your cause of leaving the earth better than you found it?

Vote with my dollar and my job - every single day.

4. Being the driving force on this discovery, when did it strike you first that there was an unbalance here, and that it was to become a part of your mission to close the loop?

I knew there was an imbalance in the system when my parents moved to Mexico when I was 16. I was devastated by the pollution of the local lake. Later on, my master's degree was able to confirm this for me with the cold hard scientific facts behind it.

When not working at Sitka - I run a program called Leverage Lab that convenes organizations to collaborate on solutions to shared sustainability challenges. When I pulled a group of Apparel stakeholders together and they expressed an interest in working together, I knew the time was now.

 

 

Natalie Farrell 

A born and raised Vancouverite, Natalie has a love for the outdoors and connecting with nature. Growing up she was always fascinated by apparel, textiles and creating projects with different fibres. After attending UBC, Natalie worked in marketing in the apparel industry for several years. Wanting to create more sustainable solutions in business, she moved to a sustainability consulting company for a deep dive in the industry. Natalie has now combined her two interests in apparel and sustainability and consults apparel brands on exactly this. She is fluent in the opportunities and challenges with the fashion industry moving towards a more sustainable future and is very passionate about implementing change within the industry.

1. What motivated you to start working at Sitka with a focus on this project? I mean, it’s called impossible for a reason, it’s currently impossible! Why do you think Sitka can do it?

This project is basically the trifecta of things that I love – textiles, sustainability and the outdoor lifestyle. So for me, it was a no-brainer, how could I not work on a project that combined the three things that I am the most passionate about?

It is currently impossible yes, but if it were going to be easy, someone else would already be doing it. I’ve also found that when companies want to be more sustainable they go for the low hanging fruit. A lot of companies are too scared to try something that hasn’t been done before, something that might be difficult, something that might not be possible. It’s important to challenge ourselves, and push to find these solutions, or else we won’t innovate. I believe Sitka can take on this project because it aligns so well with their values, but also because they are open and willing to try different things, see what works and what might not work.

2. What excites you most about being a part of the Sitka workforce?

It was really cool to go to the office and meet a crew of like-minded people.

A lot of time in sustainability when you go to a different client, they don’t get sustainability, they don’t get the need to protect the environment and it’s hard to get them on board. The whole team at Sitka not only understood why we wanted to take on this project, but they were excited to get involved and see results.

3. You both are very clearly passionate about what you do. What are some everyday things you do to contribute to your cause of leaving the earth better than you found it?

There are a lot of things we can do as individuals and community members to protect but also to enhance the earth that we live with. I personally try to do a lot of little things – like being zero waste (I’m almost there), taking the bus instead of driving, obsessively turning off lights, phones, power sources, using as little water as possible and not wasting food. Sometimes I catch myself being OCD with these things, but then I cringe when I see the waste other people produce and am thankful for being a little obsessive.

4. Being the driving force on this discovery, when did it strike you first that there was an unbalance here, and that it was to become a part of your mission to close the loop?

I think growing up in a super environmentally conscious family; I’ve always had a little bit of it ingrained in me and have always appreciated the environment and done my part to reduce my impact. When I started working in the apparel industry, I really struggled with having window displays that lasted a month and then were tossed, apparel that was shipped around the world in individual plastic bags, and new styles every season that wasn’t really that different than the season before. So I decided I needed to support creating change in an industry I didn’t want to leave completely.

Introducing: The Impossible Fibre from Sitka on Vimeo.