Larry Rowbs Foundation works to reduce pollution in the fashion industry

on

The organisation is dedicated to tackling the problem of environmental pollution stemming from the textile industry and striving to lessen its impact. 

The Larry Rowbs Foundation is an international sustainable fashion non-profit organisation operating in the U.S. and Africa, whose mission is to “reduce environmental pollution caused by the textile industry by building a full-scale recycling facility and a sustainable fashion school to clean the environment and empower people,” explains Rowaiye Olanrewaju, his founder. With a decade of experience in the fashion industry, a Master’s degree in International Trade, and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, he is an African fashion designer and entrepreneur. In addition, two more co-founders based in the USA played a role in establishing the organization. One of them is Travis Robbins, who brings 6 years of team management experience, service in the Marine Corps, and experience as the founder of business scaling startup Pains To Profits. The other co-founder is Hannah Craik from Salonvironment, a professional environmental advocate, consultant, lobbyist, and entrepreneur with 10 years of expertise in the beauty and salon industry.

Great achievements. Following the gas and oil sectors, the fast-fashion industry holds the position of the second-largest emitter of carbon. The byproducts of this industry accumulate in African landfills, where they are neglected and forgotten. This poses a significant ecological challenge for the continent. The Larry Rowbs Foundation has taken on the responsibility of addressing and resolving this pressing matter. 

The Larry Rowbs Foundation is an international sustainable fashion non-profit organisation operating in the U.S. and Africa, whose mission is to “reduce environmental pollution caused by the textile industry by building a full-scale recycling facility and a sustainable fashion school to clean the environment and empower people,” explains Rowaiye Olanrewaju, his founder.

The magnitude of the issues surrounding textile waste remains substantial, carrying significant implications for the environment, economy, and society. By the year 2023, the overall volume of waste produced had surged to a staggering 90 million metric tons. Regrettably, a portion of these discarded textiles find their way into African landfills, resulting in extensive environmental contamination and the spread of diseases. These wastes from fast fashion can be categorised into three distinct types. Firstly, the chemicals used in dyeing and processing operations find their way into rivers, further exacerbating pollution. Additionally, there are textile remnants, encompassing factory errors and cut pieces. Lastly, there is the disposal of low-quality fashion items that have a short lifespan and are discarded after only one or two uses.

The original intention of the foundation was to “set up a recycling facility to help combat the waste and struggle of fast fashion products ending up in Africa. We realised that this strategy wouldn’t work if we didn’t put people’s interest in it. Through this initiative, the Larryowbs Foundation established a school focused on sustainability and recycling, providing training and education on sustainable fashion. In addition, they equipped individuals with the necessary resources to establish their small-scale facilities in various communities of their choosing, thereby generating employment opportunities and revenue for those communities. In 14 countries, we have assembled a diverse team of passionate professionals dedicated to this cause. 

Rowaiye Olanrewaju is the founder. With a decade of experience in the fashion industry, a Master’s degree in International Trade, and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, he is an African fashion designer and entrepreneur.

The founder proudly states, “We have also successfully collected data and developed recycled products for research in New York, USA. We have effectively educated numerous students, models, and professionals on the detrimental effects of fast fashion and the importance of purchasing sustainable products. Our organisation has been officially registered in both Uganda and the United States. We have conducted multiple seminars and interviews across various nations, while also authoring numerous published articles for widespread readership.”

The foundation stated that all of these projects are currently in the research and development phase, and they plan to move forward with the project once they have the necessary resources to expand.

Significant barriers. However, “there are three major obstacles hindering the success of our mission or the Larry Rowbs Foundation: a lack of collaboration, a lack of resources, and a lack of awareness.” Many prominent brands prioritise the opportunity to use other brands for greenwashing rather than taking the morally right course of action. Within the fashion industry, a significant number of experts still view it as a competitive arena rather than a collaborative platform for addressing the pressing issue at hand. Additionally, the lack of resources and funds is a major obstacle that is often underestimated. The detrimental impact of fast fashion on our environment far exceeds what most people comprehend. 

In addition, two more co-founders based in the USA played a role in establishing the organization. One of them is Travis Robbins, who brings 6 years of team management experience, service in the Marine Corps, and experience as the founder of business scaling startup Pains To Profits.

The contamination of underground water sources and rivers is a direct consequence of this industry, as is the pollution of the water used for irrigation, which ultimately affects the food we consume. Unfortunately, grassroots organisations dedicated to combating these issues have limited access to funding, as the fashion industry is often perceived as a secondary concern that does not warrant significant attention. Lastly, the lack of awareness surrounding these problems is a critical factor. Raising awareness is crucial to helping people grasp the magnitude of the problem. This can be achieved through education initiatives, advertising campaigns, and other means. Regrettably, there has been a significant dearth of efforts to educate the public about the various challenges associated with the fashion industry.

The other co-founder is Hannah Craik from Salonvironment, a professional environmental advocate, consultant, lobbyist, and entrepreneur with 10 years of expertise in the beauty and salon industry.
The other co-founder is Hannah Craik from Salonvironment, a professional environmental advocate, consultant, lobbyist, and entrepreneur with 10

Social impact. “Our goals are three. First, rebuild the fashion industry in Africa, especially the textile industry, and make it more sustainable and regulated. Second, to educate and create jobs through empowerment programs. Third, to reduce the environmental issues caused by the fashion industry in Africa by recycling and upcycling,” highlights his founder, Rowaiye Olanrewaju. “We will have a positive impact on the community by educating people and creating jobs through factories and schools. We will donate suitable clothing disposal containers to help clean the environment and ensure that fewer textile products go to landfills. We will reduce child labour and labour extortion in the industry,” he says. 

The next step for the foundation is to develop an educational sustainable fashion game to make people aware of the problems facing the fashion industry and how to make more sustainable choices. In this way, a community of sustainable fashion enthusiasts around the world can be built. We also want to start building clothing recycling plants. The challenges facing textile waste in Africa remain huge.

Freya Smith.

Share this
Tags

Recent Post

The Africa in London

Academia, education, culture, business, advocacy, and engagement—how well does Africa flow along the Thames?

Tech adoption in African elections 

Africa exists in a technological paradox. On the one hand, the continent is a technological laggard because of its slow progression in tech innovation, including AI.

The Enduring Voice of the People: The Kgotla System in Botswana’s Policymaking

Botswana's democracy boasts a unique feature: the Kgotla system. More than just a historical relic, the Kgotla serves as a vibrant platform for public participation in the modern policymaking process.

More like this

2 COMMENTS

  1. Bonjour
    Merci pour cette belle analyse sur la pollution qui provoque un changement climatique extraordinaire au sahel.
    ADIS_SAHEL,nous ouvrons dans plusieurs domaines pour aider les populations saheliens victimes des changements climatique. Nos ressources sont très très limites nous pouvons compte sur votre soutiens et engagements pour nous appuie à obtenir un résultat de 50% dans nos zones d’intervention contre la déforestation et nôtres campagnes des ramassages des plastiques à travers certains villes des nos zones d’intervention,.
    Nous avons un programme de reboisement collectif dans dans 5 Communes du cercle de Diema,Kayes,et Yelimane zones très touché par les changements climatique.

    ADIS_SAHEL
    Le COORDINATEUR
    DIAWARA HOUMANA.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here