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ETHIK BGC: First canadian circular economy organization in the fashion industry

Montreal, CanadaColombia, Bolivia, Ecuateur, and in Canada
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Ethik BGC works along the value chain promoting a triple bottom line that works for people and its environment both in develop and developing countries too. We achieve this through a circular economy approach that accounts for the role of designers, makers, retailers,consumers and recyclers.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

what if all textile and collateral waste could be transform into ressources over and over, centring economy to People and NOT only products?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The textile & fashion industry is built on a ‘take, make, consume, dispose’ pattern of growth. It is a linear model based on the assumption that resources are abundant, available, easy to source and cheap to dispose of. Textile waste is a huge problem, system is archaic and inefficient but this represents also a great opportunity to innovate and generate new business models, based on sustainability and centred on people rather than products.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our programing gravitates around these objectives: to Increase public awareness on the impact of our consumption choices on the environment and provide concrete courses of public action, through a set of citizen friendly travelling exhibitions and eco-workshops to apply the concept of 3RV when creating, buying, caring and disposing of textile items. To Reduce the weight of textiles from landfill sites, by developing partnerships that increase textile waste collection points( e.g. in large retail centers) to collect textile waste but also sensitize and reward engaged citizen To innovate in the creation of materials out of recycled textile waste, through a collaborative action-research along with academia,textile creators & designers.


in 2012, Founder became ASHOKA Fellow. in 2012 the project also won the VIVAT prize, for our ecological and social coherence , we were VIVAT award for our coherence in eco-responsibility and commitment from the inside out, the only NGO among the winners.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Flor is an immigrant woman living in Montreal, designer as a profession, but unable to find a decent job that allow her to provide for her 3 children. She has participate on our workshops on eco-design and inspired, she starts creating products out of textile waste. Her material cost is minimal, ( its available on our eco-center) so all her cost goes to her time, she produce high-quality unique pieces that can be re-sold even when garment is not longer good, it will be then taken apart onsite, the scraps will be sold separately to others, the unused parts will be then sorted by material threaded and woven into new fabric to be resold to hundreds of other designers, (all possible thanks to partnerships both here & abroad)

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Growth within: a circular economy vision makes a strong case for new business models centered on use, rather than product consumption, and regenerative practices that, on top of economic advantages, have beneficial impacts for society as a whole. As it will create new business opportunities, it generates economies of scale and creates new jobs. Ethik works with 150 eco-designers from 19 nationalities. in the spam of 2 years 100 new business models, new services have been created generating new income possibilities. The circular economy represents a tremendous opportunity as a social impact tool. With its system-wide perspective, it has the potential to help us make informed and better decisions about resource use, design and disposal. It will shift mindsets in both business and individuals and by stimulating collaborative approaches, creativity and collectively thought solutions.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

1.Design a clothing Collection points strategy that includes major players. 2Collaborative experimental research, and co-development - Circular Economy and textiles services HUB Our services will support the co-development of products, seeking to identify and to develop collaborative projects between entrepreneurs in the textile industry, the waste management industry and academia for the development of promising initiatives for the textile industry. In the first years we seek to identify possible partners to develop professional relationships at the local, national and international level

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

solidify partnership across sectors and big players. we have secured 40% funds Get the buy in of more engaged citizen and eco responsible consumption. As a project within FEM International, ETHIK has worked for almost 5 years as an incubator for ethical fashion related projects. Now as a new entity ETHIK partner with FEM International and will capitalize in the 10 years of experience, network and resources coming from this special partnership.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We have a collaborative system approach working from producer to consumer through the value chain. Other organizations tackle one of the components of the chain, but none have that systemic approach. Recycling textile companies work in silos with little or no connection to the fashion or textile industry or academia. Ethik see itself as a catalyzer of these relationships, creating powerful synergies to provide concrete solutions in our field. We believe there is an incredible potential to make the recycle industry far more efficient in generating new business models through circular economy.

Founding Story

We deeply believe the fashion industry as a global industry has an enormous potential to generate jobs and take people out of poverty, if only it was done in a more ethical and sustainable way. It is the one industry that connects all people of this planet and that is common to kids and adults, regardless of where they are from. It is also in our sphere of influence and gives a possibility to all individuals to work on something concrete. We believe large-scale social change is possible, even within a lot of small players and that being part of the solution to help evolve business as usual strategies by proofing that broad cross-sector collaboration is possible through a circular economy.


We have an experienced team: Lis Suarez is an ASHOKA fellow, founder of FEM International, and co-manager and president at ETHIK. Trained in finance and International Relations with a graduate degree from Harvard University, she has 13 years of work experience in the fashion and textile industry from a local to a global setting. Diana Guerra is a social entrepreneur with a Master in Environmental Science from UQÀM (Canada). Diana has worked as an environmental consultant for different private companies and NGO’s around the world, creating awareness for environmental issues through creative approaches. SHe acts as a co-manager and consultant and founder board member of Ethik. Ethik BGc has a board of director of 6 people and ad advisory committee of 3. Additionally, we have an experienced and committed staff composed by 2 other full-time employees. Catheryne with a master in fashion industry and a strong interest in sustainability, Monica with a fair trade background south base collaborating. We also count with a consolidated network of different stakeholders through FEM International , who is now a partner, other partners that are willing to share their resources, network and expertise include Equiterre, the Insitutie of Circular Economy and sustainable development form the HEC University in Montreal. the community center of economic development CDEC and Canopy, a leading environmental Canadian organization. As a project within FEM International, ETHIK has worked for almost 5 years as an incubator for ethical fashion related projects. It was created by a group of immigrant women producers to work together and promote ethical fashion. At the beginning of 2014, ETHIK started working independently, providing experimental opportunities and co-development of products, services as a logical next step to develop collaborative projects at a more industrial scale, that are of greater benefit to the community .
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]

Raw Materials, Manufacturing, Consumption.

Your Role: What is your relationship to the apparel industry? [check all that apply]

Advocate/Organizer, Consumer, Designer, Factory Owner, Non-profit Staff, Policymaker, Researcher, Retail Representative - Department Store, Retail Representative - Specialty Store, Retail Representative - Mass-merchandise Chain, Retail Representative - Discount Chain, Sourcing Manager / Supply Chain Manager.

Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]

Consumers, Corporations, Designers, Factory Workers, Retailers - Department Store, Retailers - Specialty Store, Retailers - Mass-merchandise Chain, Retailers - Discount Chain, Women.

● Intervention Focus: What are you trying to achieve / influence? [check all that apply]

Conscious Consumerism, Environmentally Sustainable Practices, Labor Rights (i.e. Collective Bargaining, etc.), Gender Equality, Recycling or Circular Economy.

Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.

Advocacy, Capacity Building, Training.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

A Job is Not Enough: Low-Income Workers Cannot Secure Long-Term Well-Being, Consumers Aren't Motivated to Care: Neither Compelling Reasons Nor Easy Means to Change Consumption Habits.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Unite More than Voice: Tap into Community Capital and Collective Resources, Activate Local Know-how for Driving Solutions: Build Opportunities for Workers to Become Leaders, Disrupt Business as Usual: Target Key Players Who Can Influence the Bottom Line.

Innovation Inspiration: When you first conceived of your project, did you think of it as applicable to the apparel industry?


If you answered "no" to the previous question, which industry was your project originally aimed at transforming?

● Replicating in the Apparel Industry: If your project didn't initially target the apparel industry, how are you specifically tailoring it to do so now?
Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?

Ethik Bgc was a very strong public education component work along with parnter organization FEM International,

● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?

Yes cross-sector collaboration, co-creations and development of synergies is part of ADN of project.

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