The need for us to take care of our planet is at an all time high. As the days pass, there are ever growing campaigns surrounding climate change and global warming and the role we as a society play in perpetuating it. One large focus is the amount of waste we produce, that goes to landfill.
Many items we use everyday can be recycled, such as food containers or even some fashion garments, which is better for the environment, but arguably not enough. It is important to consider what happens to our clothes and accessories that aren’t reusable after we are ‘done’ with them. How can we make sure that our garments and accessories live on for a much longer period of time? And how can we shop sustainably?
What is the circular economy?
The circular economy involves the idea that an item will never truly reach the end of it’s life, it can always be adapted and used to be part of something bigger. This is particularly important in the world of fashion, where thousands upon thousands of garments are made each day, and with a lot of waste to go alongside them.
It is estimated that the average Briton takes up 1.7 kg each year of textile waste, which needs to drastically be reduced. The solution to this lies behind the circular economy, where the process that items are made is nothing but efficient. The materials used to make the items are sourced from sustainable, long-lasting origins, with the intention of lasting for an extended period, instead of a one time use. By doing so these items are put into our universe to be used over and over again, with minimal waste in comparison to a linear or recyclable approach, which both produce significant waste still.
How can we contribute to the transition towards the circular economy?
In encountering such a significant process, it can often feel like it is a lot bigger than you, which makes it difficult to understand how to help. To help overcome this, Dr Brismar, the creator of Green Strategy, has devised a 16 point plan on how to be a better consumer and manufacture in a circular economy.
These include factors such as ‘sourcing and producing locally’, ‘collaborate well and widely’ and ‘design for biodegradability’. To make a difference, manufacturers of clothing brands as well as consumers must follow these steps, to make progress towards a better planet. As consumers, we can research the origin and nature of where the items come from before purchase to ensure it has come from a company who takes pride in preserving the environment.
How can we shop sustainably? Brand Focus: ‘Stella McCartney’ and ‘The R Collective’
There is a wide range of brands that have participated in acting upon these ideas to make the world of fashion more eco-friendly. I have chosen two that explore these ideas well.
Stella McCartney is a well-known, well-established name in the fashion industry, who has been very open about her business’ involvement in the circular economy. The company’s website provides lots of information on the circular economy and the work the company partakes in reducing fashion waste, and is a good read for your further education. It outlines that they work with ECONYL to turn old nylon waste into yarn, that they have used in their collection: Fabella GO bags.
They have been involved with the ideas behind RealReal, an American outlet of pre-owned designer items, and re-homing them. They have also co-launched Clevercare, an initiative aimed at showing customers how to take care of their garments and accessories to make them last. Not only do they produce quality garments, but they are inspiring others to learn more about the circular economy and how they can help.
The R Collective:
The R collective is a fashion company that puts old and excess luxury fabric to use and at the forefront of their collections. Their aim is to ‘create beautiful clothes using waste materials’, which they have been doing since 2007. Not only do they sell original designs from these pre-used materials, they also sell redesigned luxury pieces.
And as if all of this was not enough, the company works along side Redress, an organisation that works to reduce waste materials. In this partnership, they donate 25% of their profits to Redress to ‘reduce waste and drive sustainability in the fashion industry’. As well as being a source of new (old) fashion, their website is also hard on the idea of reusing and transforming what you already have and making it new. Their collections, similar to Stella McCartney’s provide a breath of fresh air, by being both fashionable and sustainable.
I hope these facts and ideas have presented more efficient ways to live. All in all doing that little bit extra research before purchasing an item could preserve the environment for years to come, and break the chain of linear fashion once and for all.