Lindsey Coffey: Modeling a Sustainable Future in Fashion

In an industry where trends often overshadows values, Lindsey Coffey emerges as a beacon of authenticity and purpose. From gracing international catwalks to advocating for environmental sustainability, Lindsey’s journey in the fashion industry is as inspiring as it is impactful. In this exclusive interview, we delve into the depths of her remarkable story, exploring her unconventional rise to prominence, her unwavering commitment to advocacy, and her vision for a fashion industry that prioritizes ethics alongside aesthetics. Join us as we uncover the untold chapters of Lindsey Coffey’s inspiring narrative—a tale of empowerment, resilience, and the transformative power of fashion to effect meaningful change.

How did you get your start in the fashion industry and how long have you been a model?

At 12, I was scouted in a mall during a visit to Rhode Island, and she told my mom to contact her when my braces came off. Despite always wanting to model, I never pursued it outside of an occasional and unsuccessful online submission.  It wasn’t until college where I gave myself a week during summer break to set up open calls in New York City. As a college student traveling from rural Centerville, Pennsylvania, that week I lived off of Special K! snacks and slept in a hostel the size of a closet, where you could barely open the door as it slammed directly into the bed – a true NYC experience.

My luck changed that week as I was offered a contract during my first open call. It was on July 4th, 2012. A day filled with irony, as I signed away a bit of my freedom when our nation celebrated theirs. I’ve been in the industry for 12 years now and it’s been one wild ride.

What has been the best part of modelling?

The best part of this industry is the opportunity for unique experiences. That includes not only travelling, but living like a local in countries for months at a time. We also meet many different people, as each job is different, and have access to special events where I personally take full advantage of networking opportunities. This is an industry where the highs are high and the lows are lows. I make sure to fully embrace these opportunities as they give you the chance to achieve even more out of life.

We noticed you won Miss Earth in 2020, what was that experience like and how did it impact your career?

That was the first time I did something like that. I was WAY outside my comfort zone, and I sacrificed a lot when competing. However, when I discovered Miss Earth, and how it aligned with everything I believed in, the moment felt cosmic. I knew it was something I was meant to do. At the time, the modeling industry frowned upon pageantry and I was dropped by one of my agencies for competing, yet I continued on, competed against 83 other nations, and became the first American to win the international title. We made history that day and it changed the course of my life. Because of Miss Earth, I gained a new type of confidence. It wasn’t the confidence to walk down a runway, wear a swimsuit in front of a crowd, or to speak in public. That was my job already. I learned how to show up for myself, that I am my greatest obstacle, and that my passion will always be more powerful than my doubt.

Competing not only benefited me, but my title helped my career as well. I was no longer viewed as just a model, but a respected, passionate person willing to stand for something greater than herself. I was then re-signed by an agency that supported me and appealed to designers focusing on sustainability as they wanted to work with a model who shared the same passion. Overall, despite the sacrifices I made, Miss Earth gave me more than I “lost”, because in the end, I never really lost anything. I was finally pursuing my purpose and life cleared away what no longer served me in getting there.

Why is being an advocate for the environment so important to you and how does it coincide with the fashion industry?

My heart belonged to nature ever since I was little. I loved animals and spending time outdoors. I even adopted a highway to clean when I was in middle school. When I started traveling for work, I saw so much beauty on this planet. Yet, through the beauty, I also saw destruction. This planet gave us life, everything we had was because of her, and yet the world continued to take while giving nothing in return. Communities were suffering, ecosystems destroyed, the land, water, and air were polluted, and life, in many forms, were going extinct. I knew something needed to be done. While I focused on many different aspects of the climate crisis, as a model I felt obligated to advocate for fashion. As the fashion industry was one of the worst environmental and humanitarian offenders, I could no longer be part of the industry and look the other way.

The fashion industry contributes up to 8% of global carbon emissions, roughly 20% of wastewater pollution, and is an offender to modern day slavery among garment workers worldwide. This industry causes environmental degradation, destroys ecosystems, and negatively impacts human health. The impacts of fashion are not in plain sight, making it difficult to learn of the effects. As fashion leaves a major impact, it is crucial to educate consumers, designers, manufacturers, and law makers in order to implement changes that reverse the damages and leave a positive, global effect that changes the future of our world.  

Are there any brands that you personally love or have worked with that are practicing sustainability?

Smaller, local, and boutique designers tend to be more conscious as it’s easier for smaller companies to incorporate sustainable practices rather than those who mass produce. What I love most is visiting farmer’s markets where I bounce from tent to tent browsing clothes, jewelry, and accessories, walking away with something affordable, exclusive, and consciously made.

When it comes to traditional shopping, although there are designer brands doing great things, such as Reformation, E.L.V. Denim, and Minimalist, I like to recommend those who are more inclusive in terms of affordability. For conscious and afforadable finds, Pangaia and Girlfriend Collective are great for activewear. For basics and casual wear look at No Nasties, PACT, and Yes Friends, and for my travel lovers, all of my luggage is from Paravel.

What do you think the fashion industry could do as a whole to be more sustainable?

It’s always been an argument of sustainability v. profitability, but today, we have options. There are many strategies that brands and companies can choose from where they can have both.

A great way to honor accountability is by incorporating extended producer responsibility (EPR) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs into business models holding each company accountable for the impacts they create. As a major contributor of greenhouse gases, the industry must also be responsible for its emissions. Investing in renewable energy or carbon offsets is a great way to reduce environmental footprints, carbon offsets being one of the easiest without making transformative changes to the company. Lastly, using sustainable materials as well as creating transparency within the supply chain showing where, how, and by whom these materials were sourced, allows companies to know where changes need to be made as well as show consumers the (more so than not) unethical production of garments.

From the consumer side, learning the life cycle of clothing and understanding the negative impacts will encourage a shift in consumer behavior. As consumers control the market through supply and demand, they have incredible power in encouraging companies to produce more consciously by purchasing from brands that already do so. A lot of people don’t research the truth about the brands they love, I always recommend the brand directory at and where they research brands for you. It takes seconds.

What do you hope to see in the fashion industry in the next five years? What are some of your personal goals you hope to achieve in the next 5-10 years?

In the next 5 years, I’m hoping designers see how earth-friendly materials are opportunities for creativity and innovation, where they can inspire change among others within fashion and within those who appreciate it. I want to see consumers choosing slow fashion rather than fast, as well as our garment workers being paid a livable wage to create them. I would love to see CSR and EPR programs as requirements for companies, transparent supply chains, as well as the use of clean tech and energy.

For myself, as someone who used to live by a methodical plan, I now prefer to see how life unfolds for me. I have goals, but instead of viewing my future as a checklist, I conceptualize it. I will continue to explore the world and educate as many people who are willing to listen. I want to heal, spread light, and raise our environmental consciousness where our future will not look like our past. My purpose is to build the foundation for change, both within our environment and within ourselves. I don’t have specific goals on how I’ll get there, but whatever I do in the future, I know I will be guided towards that.

Where can our readers find you?

You can contact me through my website or social media at or @lindseymariecoffey. I love hearing from people!

Photo credits:

Photographer & Stylist: Helena Raju

HMUA: Tara Pinto

Gimme More Beauty

Do You Like?

Some things are only found on Facebook. Don't miss out.