Cycling needs to do better. We need to do better. So we’re doing something about it. And that’s where Kevin comes in.
We’re going to step in here and say that for the next 500 words or so, we’re going to throw in words like “supply chain” and “chemical integrity”. But we figure if you’ve made it this far, you give a shit about the environment. And if that’s the case, you’ll care that in 2015, the global apparel industry produced more than 400 billion square metres of fabric. And that producing all this fabric accounts for 25% of global chemical use. And that 90% of the chemicals that go into a textile factory is either recycled or ends up in the air, the water or the land. Which means you might care that MAAP is trying to do the right thing with all these chemicals.
But back to Kevin. Kevin Myette works for an organisation called BLUESIGN®. BLUESIGN® work with brands and manufacturers to reduce the overall footprint of textiles, with a particular focus on the chemicals they use. Because even the most well-meaning brands have gaps in what they know about their products and processes. “By closing their gaps, you will ultimately make a significant difference in your overall carbon footprint, your energy footprint, your water footprint and your chemical footprint,” Kevin explains. There are up to 2000 chemicals used in textile processes and new ones are being developed each week. To Kevin, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “People just treat chemistry as something that is bad.” So what if we ask Kevin if there are chemicals in the moisture-wicking, breathable, performance textiles that MAAP use? “The answer I would always say is, absolutely. And unapologetically, there are chemicals necessary to make these materials. In fact, chemicals are not the problem. Chemicals are often the solution and what’s the problem is bad chemistry.”
And to Kevin, bad chemistry can sneak into the production process, even with the best of intentions and corporate buzzwords in place. “People who make materials are not necessarily chemists,” he says. “When you look at a barrel of chemistry, it’s not a chemical, it’s a mixture of chemistry. And so they don’t necessarily know everything that’s in that barrel. And it’s super hard for them to know that. And then they’re combining mixtures to create the right effect. And so it’s really hard for them to know that they’re doing the right thing,” says Kevin. “And so it’s really important that they’re buying chemistry, using chemistry that has been fully evaluated.”
The whole game is knowing what goes into making your product, across every step. As Kevin reminds us, “When you don’t know your supply chain, you don’t know your chemistry.” And it’s impossible to do this without help. Which is where BLUESIGN® comes in. They work with hundreds of brands and know what to look out for, to make sure that the chemical integrity of the process is elite. And knowing what to look out for is half of the problem. “It’s like an iceberg,” Kevin explains. “The problems that consumers are aware of, is the iceberg that’s above the water. The real issues are the iceberg that’s below the water.”
Working with BLUESIGN® is about trust. “It ensures trust that all the right choices have been made and the highest integrity is ensured across the entire network,” says Kevin. Which means that riders wearing MAAP can trust that every care has been taken to ensure the chemical integrity of their kit. “Just like when you want to get into a race and the truth is in the event, you can’t hide the Peloton,” Kevin says. Increasingly, partnering with organisations like BLUESIGN® aren’t going to be a nice added bonus. It’s going to become a (perfectly reasonable) expectation of cyclists the world over. I mean, you read this far. You obviously give a shit. Working with BLUESIGN®, and the process that they’re going through with Kevin shows that MAAP gives a shit too.