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The outdoor clothing industry generates a high proportion of waste due to fashion-related consumer behavior, where jackets or underlayers are cast aside at the end of a season, often while they are still fit for purpose. Outdoor clothing can contain plastic and is a carbon-intensive product. When discarded – or even donated to a second-hand or charity store – it is not necessarily reused. Instead, it may be shipped abroad where it is hard to trace. Some items are incinerated, others sent to landfill. Plastic fibers find their way into our air and waterways.
Six Senses Residences Courchevel has partnered with One Tree at a Time, which employs local people to patch and repair garments, raises awareness among local businesses, creates educational content, and delivers hands-on repair workshops.
Founded in 2019 by Gavin Fernie-Jones, One Tree at a Time was set up to encourage independent ski resort businesses to make small adjustments to reduce their environmental impact.
In a short space of time, Gavin has galvanized considerable support in his local Alpine community and made a tangible impact. Like a welcome orange jacket in a whiteout, Six Senses Residences Courchevel spotted him!
“After realizing the positive changes that we could make in our own boot-fitting business, The Boot Lab, our initial aim was to share what we had learned with other local businesses,” says Gavin. “Little did we know we were creating a larger movement. We rely completely on the mountains so why not do everything we can to negate the impact our industry has on it?”
Living in the Alps, Gavin is on the north face when it comes to seeing for himself the impact global warming is having on his home. The temperatures in the Alps are estimated to have risen about 2 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution, faster than the global average, and the average snow season has shortened by 38 days since 1960.
One Tree at a Time aims to embed circular approaches to change behaviors, turn waste to wealth, and build community to protect the environment he loves.
“We reduce waste by keeping products in action. Using local skills, we patch, repair, and upcycle a whole range of outdoor clothing, with the aim of keeping materials in our local community. At One Tree, we treat every product that comes through the community hub door with the utmost respect. To make sure these products are reused, we rely on creativity and local skills. We patch over branding, replace zips, and design new garments and accessories. Our seamstresses are amazing, and the results speak for themselves. We keep over 80 percent of donated products in the local economy. This is a really high figure compared to the industry standard of around 20 percent.”
The purpose is to tackle these products at source to reduce the pollution that is exported to the Global South. Any funds that are left over from their activities are used to plant trees in Africa. To date, One Tree at a Time has removed over 10,000 single-use plastic bags from supply lines, kept thousands of garments out of landfill, planted over 100,000 trees, and greatly reduced carbon outputs through re-use and reduction programs.
Gavin continues, “The support of Six Senses is essential in increasing our impact. The funding is being used to employ more locals. The Alps are teeming with small innovative businesses, and this boost is enabling us to research solutions to tackle the small amount of waste that so far, we haven’t been able to address. We have a prototype solution in the works at the moment.”
Six Senses Residences Courchevel is also supporting a comprehensive workshop series, which invites adults and children to repair classes, t-shirt printing, and upcycling lessons.
“These workshops are an important way of upskilling the local community and involving people in the solution,” Gavin continues, “We're particularly excited to offer workshops to the Six Senses team. This skill sharing wouldn't be possible on this scale without their support.”
Ethical purchasing: Be part of the solution. Use your purchasing power to transform an industry. Keep clothing out of landfill and buy from local, ethical brands.
Join the One Tree community: Ask at the Six Senses Residences Courchevel reception desk for more information. 75 percent of any donation goes to community events and workshops, 15 percent to tree planting, and 10 percent to administration.