Lindsey Coffey is rapidly rising in the fashion industry, fueled by her unwavering commitment to activism and advocacy. As a model, former Miss Earth, and influential voice in sustainability, Coffey is a multi-faceted talent with a purpose. With Earth Day just around the corner, we sat down with her to discuss her journey in environmental activism and how she leverages her platform to drive change in the fashion world. In this exclusive interview, Coffey speaks passionately about her personal convictions and her dedication to making a difference, revealing the profound impact of her work and her boundless aspirations for a greener, cleaner world.
When and why did you start becoming passionate about environmental issues? (sustainable fashion, climate change, etc)
My passion for our environment was always known. Ever since I was little I was obsessed with nature and adopted a highway to clean while volunteering at the humane society. However, it wasn’t until I traveled the world to fully understand the negative effect humanity had on our planet. I witnessed the deforestation of the Peruvian jungle, saw the declining coral reefs off the coast of Australia, and lived through the worst water crisis in the history of South Africa. How we view this world comes from how we experience it. After my experiences I learned how we were creating these problems, and also ways we could fix them.
How has using your platform and voice impacted your career?
My platform has affected me negatively and positively in my career. When I first started advocating one of my agencies dropped me as they said my “priorities had changed”. On the other side, I gained more clients as our values aligned. Designers introducing sustainable lines wanted a model who reflected their vision. I also assisted others on set asking how they could get more involved and at times was complimented on my platform unaware they even knew. As the industry is full of creatives who are naturally open-minded and emotional people, they are interested in learning about everyone’s story.
Do you think there is a shift happening in the fashion industry with more designers trying to be more eco-friendly and using sustainability in their pieces?
Absolutely. This “eco-shift” occurs particularly among boutique and new designers as it is easier for them to create transparency within their supply chain as well as sustainable pieces. We also see luxury names advertising mindful pieces. However, most designers are guilty of greenwashing and do not provide the transparency needed to truly market themselves as sustainable. A designer could advertise organic cotton but use toxic dyes that pollute our water, or advertise up cycling but release massive amounts of emissions through their manufacturing and transport process. Although sustainabilty is trending, a lot of designers share empty promises and the responsibility falls on the consumer to research if their words carry any weight. We have seen improvements but we have a long way to go. It’s less work and less risk by supporting your local designers and small businesses to ensure transparency, while also boosting your local economy.
You mentioned greenwashing, how can we be sure brands are not greenwashing us?
To stay relevant and to turn a profit companies will use deceptive means to trick consumers into believing they’re sustainable. Unfortunately consumers hold the responsibility to do their own research by looking for third party certifications like BCI, B Corp, Global Organic Textile Standard, Fair Trade International, and the like. Remember to check and see what materials they use, if they honor transparency about how and where their clothes are made as well as by whom. Also find out how they package and transport their materials. All of this information should be on their website. If you have to dig or if they use vague language then you’re probably being greenwashed. You can use third party websites as well such as goodonyou.eco as a cheat sheet.
What are some of your favorite sustainable fashion brands?
Sustainabilty doesn’t have to come with a heavy price tag. Girlfriend Collective is great for simple basics and No Nasties has fun button ups. There’s also Cossac, Birdsong, Outland Denim, and Mayamiko. In terms of designer, I’ve always admired Reformation for their sustainable pieces that are trendy and stylish as well as Stella McCartney. I’m particularly a fan of Wolf & Badger as they’re the first company I’ve seen that gives you an option to filter designers according to the cause you wish to support. Each designer must meet specific requirements that align with Wolf & Badger’s values to be sold at their stores. But shopping local is one of my absolute favorite ways to guarantee transparency. Through my travels I’ve purchased local and affordable artisan designs that are unique and not mass produced where everyone owns it. I feel so special when someone asks me where I bought a certain piece and I reply “South Africa!” or “at this cute market in LA.”
Tell us about how and why you got involved with the Remake Foundation?
Last year I attended a small gathering which focused on sustainabilty within the fashion industry. One of the panelists was Ayesha Barenblat, founder of Remake. When she spoke she commanded the room. Ayesha made such an impact on me, she was inspiring, intelligent, relatable and an absolute force. She was the change maker I aspired to be. Working as a model for half of my life and knowing the fashion industry was a major environmental polluter, notoriously known for climate and social injustices, I knew I could be doing so much more. Mass producing our clothes in sweatshops on unlivable wages with toxic chemicals while destroying ecosystems and polluting our land, water, and air is beyond shameful. The fashion industry has been a huge part of my life and I felt obligated to change it. Even though I work in an industry that is part of the problem, I can proudly say I am becoming part of the solution.
With Earth Day coming up, what are some ways that we can make changes in our own homes?
There are small changes we can make everyday. Turn your cellphone screens to dark mode, use reusable bags and bottles, shop vintage and local, up cycle, unplug unused appliances and chargers (which also saves money), recycle, start a garden, and switch to renewable energy. However the biggest impact we can make is within our legislative branch. Sign petitions online, speak to your local city council on implementing and supporting green initiatives, and most importantly VOTE for candidates that have a pro-environment agenda.
Do you have a message you would like to share with our readers?
There are many aspects to the climate crisis and everyone on the planet is affected to a degree, even when you don’t know it. We must create a new world led by empathy, compassion, and love. Not everyone is born with privilege but everyone is born with choice. Our power is in our voice, to speak for those who struggle to be heard. Everyday we have the opportunity to make a choice deciding which type of world we wish to live in. I encourage you to create a new world, even if that world is simply in your own backyard. I encourage you to make your choice inspired by empathy, compassion, and most of all love. From me to you, Happy Earth Day!