Javier Goyeneche: "Because there is no Planet B"

Javier Goyeneche is the founder of ECOALF, a fashion brand that turns discarded fishing nets, post-consumer plastic bottles and coffee into clothes. He visited the OECD on 19 October 2016, giving a talk on his sustainable fashion company. Part of the Coffees of the Secretary-General series, you can read the complete transcript of Mr Goyeneche below. 

Thank you for the invitation, I am very honoured to be here. ECOALF is a small and young Spanish company. It was born with the idea of creating a truly sustainable fashion company. I thought that the most sustainable thing to do was to not use natural resources, so we focused on recycling–to create a new generation of recycled products with the same quality and design of the best non-recycled products. In this way we could demonstrate that there is no need to keep on digging deeper and deeper to get petrol; but to instead transform what other people call waste into amazing products. So ECOALF’s vision and mission are to stop using natural resources.

Before talking about the company, let me give you a few details of what is going on because sometimes we do not stop and realise what is happening. Over 500,000 million plastic bags are used every year. The problem is that nearly 60% of them have a useful time lifespan of less than 30 minutes. In addition, 650,000 tonnes of plastic fishing nets are left at the bottom of the oceans. Unfortunately fishermen have to change their nets every 5 or 6 years and they have to pay to leave those nets in the ports. The nets however are often very big, sometimes 1km long, there is no space in the ports and fishermen do not want to pay. So they are thrown in the ocean and as a result they are creating a lot of damage, particularly to marine life. In addition, 85,000 tonnes of electronic waste is generated every year and this number is growing rapidly. We used to have one or two electronic devices and now we have five or six. 

This waste is growing and it is very difficult to recycle. A crystal bottle will last 700 years in the ocean, a plastic bottle over 450 years and a aluminium can over 200 years. That means that when we throw something away, our grand granddaughter will probably see it!

Read the full transcript here

Short biography

Born in Madrid, Javier Goyeneche studied in Spain, London and Paris, while also taking part in top international equestrian competitions.  He received his degree in Business Administration from the European Business School and continued with post-graduate work in international marketing strategies at Northwestern University in Chicago.

In 1995, he founded Fun & Basics, specialising in contemporary fashion handbags and accessories.  Within 10 years, Javier Goyeneche grew the business to 350 points of sale and 70 branded retail stores.  His accomplishments were recognised by the industry when he was awarded Best Young Entrepreneur of Madrid in 2005. 

Although he achieved tremendous success with Fun & Basics, Javier gradually grew frustrated with the amount of waste he saw being produced by the fashion industry.  He embarked on a mission to create an entirely new concept that would combine his design sensibility and understanding of the fashion consumer with the latest in recycled materials. In 2012 he launched ECOALF, named after his son Alfredo.

Under his leadership, the company has grown steadily and now produces a full lifestyle collection of outerwear, swimwear, casual apparel, shoes and accessories.  Javier has strategically expanded ECOALF’s distribution to include many of the world’s most prestigious department stores and specialty retailers. In 2012, he oversaw the opening of an integrated ECOALF concept store, showroom and office in Madrid. Most recently Ecoalf has made collaborations with companies like Apple, Swatch , Coolhunting , Coca- Cola and Will-i-am , Barneys NY.

Twitter: @ECOALF

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ECOALF

©OECD Observer December 2016

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