One of the most interesting things about attending the Wal-Mart Live Better Sustainability Summit, which we reported on here and here, was seeing suppliers to Wal-Mart that had not traditionally been seen as green, starting to look into the process of cleaning up their operations. We took the opportunity to talk to Mark Adjmi, President of Adjmi Apparel, a major supplier of men’s women’s and children’s apparel to Wal-Mart, and Corie Adjmi, the company’s Sustainability Director, about what was driving them to start addressing these issues (a summary of their efforts so far can be found on their website here).
TreeHugger: What brings you to the Live Better Sustainability Summit?
Mark Adjmi: We were invited. We had embarked on this sustainability process about six months to a year ago, but we want to learn more, and we want to do more. We are already doing a lot, but there’s always a lot more to do. Corey’s total presence in the company is dedicated to sustainability efforts. The areas we are focussing on now are recycled packaging and factory wastes. These are big frontiers for us to focus on, and they are big challenges. Things we have already done are perhaps more immediately under our control, for example power, electric and so forth, but the brass ring, as far as we see it, is at the factory level – the waste, water and pollution that they put out, as well as the packaging and materials that they use.
TH: What have been the biggest drivers for you in taking on these initiatives?
Corie Adjmi: I’ve always had an interest in the environment, and when I mentioned that to Mark, he thought it would be a good idea for me to come into the company. I can’t stand waste, just from a personal perspective, and I really do fear for where the planet is going. Every small contribution we can make towards sustainability is helpful, and I do think there is increased awareness on this issue and a willingness to act, and this really can make a difference.
TH: What needs to happen for sustainability to go truly mainstream?
CA: I think a lot of people are still in denial, and believe first of all that it doesn’t matter, and second-of-all that they can’t make a difference, and I just don’t believe that is the case. If each individual could recognize that it does matter, and that they really can make a difference, it would be a huge shift in the right direction.
TH: So it’s a question of education?
MA: It’s like when they first started talking about recycling – at the time the concept was kind of hard to grasp. I mean who would separate their garbage? It just seemed archaic, and like something the government was imposing on us that would never catch on. It’s still an issue today, but attitudes have shifted hugely. So it’s all about education, and it’s all about rethinking our priorities. What is most important to us, our own convenience, or the impact that we have on the world? ::Adjmi Apparel::via Live Better Sustainability Summit::