All in on hemp; all in on a more sustainable future

WRITTEN BY SY | LAST REVISED, MARCH 2021

A hemp revolution is brewing, and Afends are front and centre leading the charge, empowering others to join them in their crusade for a fashionably sustainable future.

Afends is an alternative clothing and fashion brand born and raised in the coastal surf town of Byron Bay.

Jono Salfield and Declan Wise started the business in 2006 off the back of a small screen-printing business producing merch for punk and hardcore bands. Ever the entrepreneurs, they decided to hit the road and sell their designs to surf shops up and down Australia’s East coast.

The childhood friends, who started from humble beginnings selling tees from the back of a van, have now built a globally recognised brand that offers consumers sustainable fashion with a purpose.

Through innovation and exploration, Afends have developed a brand and product that is future-fit, relevant and importantly employs environmentally sustainable practices across every business facet.

We sit down with Co-founder Jono to find out more about the hemp revolution and how Afends are unifying clothing and cannabis.

 

Fast fashion is killing the environment

 That might sound dramatic, but it’s a serious issue we should all be concerned about. 

The fashion industry is a massive contributor to global carbon emissions and is the second-largest polluter after the fossil fuels industry. This can be attributed to farming practices, man-made fibre production, and the amount of non-recyclable fast fashion that ends up in landfill every year, which is enough to fill Sydney Harbour, according to one mind-bending stat.

Cotton farming requires massive amounts of water, approximately 2700 litres to produce 1kg of cotton. It’s also responsible for soil degradation due to the heavy use of chemicals and pesticides that leech minerals from the earth and destroy biodiversity. 

Aside from cotton, there’s also the significant impact of man-made fabrics such as polyester and other acrylics; these fibres are manufactured from ethylene which is derived from petroleum. Nothing about this is good for us or the planet.

Feeling stuck in a somewhat toxic industry, Jono and Declan took it upon themselves to start exploring sustainable alternatives to keep their business moving forward with a focus on the environment.

Since 2013 Afends have made a conscious decision to be transparent and responsible for their carbon footprint across all facets of their business, from production through to supply chain. 

Through continuous exploration and diversification, they’ve redefined sustainable fashion, not only through their business practices but also through the use of eco-friendly materials such as hemp. 

 

Hemp has entered the chat 

Hemp is the designated driver of the cannabis family. You certainly won’t get high from hemp but look no further if you want a mighty fine t-shirt that’ll last the distance.

Hemp has been used for centuries and is possibly one of the earliest cultivated plants known to humans. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that hemp was an essential mainstay throughout history, providing global communities with textiles, food, medicine and paper.

So, is hemp the holy grail of sustainability?

It would seem so; hemp is a renewable resource and grows faster than most plants reaching maturation within 3-4 months, it requires less than a third of the amount of water cotton does, and a single plant yields 220% more fibre than cotton.

But wait, there’s more! It also works to cleanse the soil of heavy metals and chemicals sequestering four times the amount of carbon a tree does while fertilising the soil. 

For Jono and Declan, it seemed like a natural solution to utilise alternative fibres to fabricate their products. The brand has now successfully launched multiple ranges that use hemp and other recycled fibres off the back of this innovative approach.

There’s more to Afends sustainability practices than just the raw materials used to produce clothing. All their shipping is carbon neutral, and they’ve been running their Byron Bay HQ, café and warehouse on solar power for the last five years. Solar is the cleanest energy source as it doesn’t release any greenhouse emissions, relies only on the sun for power, and doesn’t require any water, unlike many fossil fuels.

A critical piece to the sustainability puzzle is partnering with like-minded suppliers that share similar transparency and accountability values. Afends work closely with their hemp and eco fibres factory in China who hold certifications with the Organic Content Standards (OCS 100 and OCS Blended) and the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Their factory runs entirely on solar power, and they are constantly at the forefront of fibre and material innovation.

 

The way forward for cannabis & clothing

Afends are passionate about educating their community on sustainability and how hemp can play a pivotal role within this space. They have a predominantly direct-to-consumer business model that gives them a fantastic opportunity to speak straight to their audience to influence change, hoping that all the small changes will one day have a positive impact on the current climate crisis.

A big part of promoting hemp is elevating its perception from what was once considered a ‘stinky hippy’ fabric to something that offers consumers a premium product that is long-wearing, antimicrobial and looks and feels just as good as any other fabric, if not better.

There is still a huge, outdated stigma surrounding cannabis, and there’s a lot of work to be done to change the narrative, but the boys are up for the job.

“The war on drugs is completely ridiculous and stupid and costs taxpayers x amounts money…there should be education around what the harmful parts of consuming cannabis are, but I also believe there can be a lot of positives to it by opening up [our] eyes to different ways of looking at reality…I think changing the way we think is really important right now”, Jono Salfield, Co-Founder Afends.

 

System Change: the 100% sustainable collection

This year Afends successfully launched their first collection made entirely from sustainable fibres.

“From here on out, we are making a promise to you, our people, to evolve and continually discover the most sustainable fabric alternatives mother earth can offer us. We are here to make clothing not just for the people, but most importantly, the planet.”

For more information, or to stock up on some amazing clothing that’s good for you and good for the planet, visit www.afends.com

 

Surye is a freelance writer based in Mullumbimby with special interests in cannabis and holistic health. She first experienced the profound effects of CBD oil while travelling abroad and has been obsessed ever since. Connect with Surye on Linkedin

Sy

Writer, Hinterland co.

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