In the ever evolving dialogue regarding sustainability and environmental awareness, Mr. Hong has emerged as a leading voice in Taiwan's organic cotton movement. Originally the owner of a conventional fabric mill, he has overhauled his entire factory to reflect his stance on ethical and sustainable production. Now, he proudly stands at the head of BeBe Cotton (a GOTS certified company), where he and his team continue to make strides in natural/eco dying and organic fabrics. At Kestan, we are proud to have Mr. Hong and BeBe Cotton as our Organic Initiative partner.
Kestan: In 2013 you received your GOTS certification. What lead to that point in your career?
Mr. Hong: My interest in sustainable production techniques was peaked during a visit to China. There, I saw colored cotton for the first time. Colored cotton is grown in colors such as green and brown, so dying isn't necessary. But you can't expect people to only wear green and brown clothes!
Kestan: So what was your solution to the brown and green clothing dilemma?
Mr. Hong: The natural evolution from colored cotton was natural dyes. From there, I figured that if I was already using natural and eco-dyes, I should also use organic fabrics. After all, what's the point of using environmentally friendly dying techniques if your fabric isn't sustainable?
Kestan: Are there any other reasons why organic fibers are important to you?
Mr. Hong: Cotton uses a huge amount of resources and pesticides that are harmful to the earth. We need to carefully consider how the things we include in our lives can impact not only the environment, but our overall health as well. If we continue to disregard these points, there will be no future in textiles. After all, our resources are finite.
Kestan: Why should others care about organic fibers?
Mr. Hong: How much cheaper do you think our clothing can get? And at what expense? Our shopping habits have direct consequences, and we have a responsibility to this planet, our fellow people, and future generations.
Kestan: Other than being an advocate for sustainable textile production, what else are you passionate about?
Mr. Hong: I love walking! In fact, in 2009 I walked 1028 kilometers to circle Taiwan. I finished the journey in 42 days!
Kestan: Lastly, do you have any words of advice for the next generation?
Mr. Hong: Passion. Action. Patience. Find something you're passionate about, and let that fuel your life. Take action so that you may meet your goals. And remain patient when you meet life's inevitable conflicts. And finally, find your identity and respect your heritage.