Friday Thoughts | Leaps and bounds at Spring Fair

Friday Thoughts | Leaps and bounds at Spring Fair

From products to production, it’s been a week of two halves for the Products of Change team this time around – with the UK team soaking up the Spring Fair ambience while our US ambassador, Andrea Green – still fresh from her trip to Las Vegas’ Sports & Tailgate Show – touched down in San Diego for the Kidscreen Summit.

Reliably, both came with their traditional list of torrential down-pours, train strikes, and everything else in-between. But what made both so uniquely different this time around was the brand-new level of engagement with which industry is now approaching sustainability.

The desire from businesses to learn more about how to imbed sustainability into all areas of their operations is growing ever stronger, no better reflected than in the size of the audiences now attending the educational panel sessions and discussions that until only recently really only pulled in the devoted. It feels now that the tides are turning and the message is starting to resonate. And it’s not a moment too soon.

You’ve no doubt all seen the headlines this week. We’ve finally done it. Last year – 2023 – has gone down in history as the world’s first year-long breach of the crucial 1.5C warming limit – the point at which, the science tells us, a prolonged period past this point will lead to irreversible changes to the way we can comfortably live our lives.

There’s no sugar coating it, this is worrying news. And news that really highlights the need for us all to rapidly increase the actions we are taking across all businesses now. Thankfully, this week also highlighted a few of the innovations that will contribute to turning this around – and they cannot come fast enough.

Taking to the Inspiring Retail stage at Spring Fair this week, PDS Group’s Paul Wright discussed at length sustainable supply chain strategies, upcycling, and how recovery initiatives are now beginning to shape the future of retail. PDS and its PDS Venture Tech Investment business are fast becoming key players in the sustainable transformation of the fashion, apparel, and textiles space having facilitated and nurtured the rapid growth of game-changing platforms including Yellow Octopus and Upcycle Labs.

Rounding out a sustainability-focused slate of educational content at Spring Fair this last week, Upcycle Labs’ MD, Barry Kane talked attendees through the process in which his business unlocks the value in textile waste by transforming it back into products to be sold in store. Working with Yellow Octopus and sitting neatly underneath the PDS Group umbrella, Upcycle Labs provides an exciting shift of attitude towards waste.

Of course, no Spring Fair would be complete without its dose of Products of Change which was served up by founder Helena Mansell-Stopher in the form of two presentations this week, both of which commanded a beautifully encouraging, strong audience turn-out reflective of the growing awareness of the need and the desire to act now.

The show – not one to shy away from its reputational eclecticism – is also fast becoming a landscape of gemstones. It is here you will find the kind of businesses that really are operating differently and with purpose at their very core. And it was a delight to stumble across so many of them, including but certainly not limited to: The Makerss, Made Happy, The Recycled Candle Company, Waterhaul, Little Karma Co., Custom Works, Composty, and a great deal more.

So, as this first flurry of trade shows now comes to an end (and hats off to those of you who completed the gauntlet when every stage of public transport conspired against you) we are truly excited to see how much industry has embraced change. We look forward to working closely with our membership and partners throughout 2024 to excel this progress and let’s all bring this moment to every touchpoint this year has to serve up.

Now that reminds us, for those that may have missed it, you can now purchase your early bird ticket for the POC sustainability conference (SiLC) on 6th November this year by heading to the website and applying for early bird tickets. Remember, Products of Change members receive a further 20% off by using the code POCMEMBER. We’re already working on a cracking line-up and cannot wait to share this with you in due course.

With that, we hope you all have a fantastic and restful weekend – you’ve earned it!

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