How the fashion world can adapt to the circular economy
Times are changing, and the Covid-19 pandemic has added another ingredient into an already complex and divisive future.
Environmentalism, climate change, and sustainability are all at the forefront of this developing future, with businesses, governments, and individuals all revising their behaviours, habits, and plans.
One idea put forward is the circular economy, a new way of thinking about how we all interact together as a society.
It sounds good in theory, but how would the fashion world fit into it?
We break down how brands can adapt to the circular economy in this post.
What is the Circular Economy?
The brainchild of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the circular economy is a framework for an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design.
The aim is that all materials and products in society are used and circulated among people for as long as possible, in an environmentally safe, effective, and fair manner.
The current model promotes waste and focuses on profit, but the circular economy advocates for a re-focusing on societal benefits, aiming to move to renewable energy sources while cutting down waste products.
To put it simply, a circular economy wants people to create less waste, use things more, and recycle them when finished.
How the fashion and textile industries can play their part
While the circular economy covers everything on the planet, the fashion and textile industries play their own unique part in sustainability.
Surprisingly, the textile industry contributes more to carbon emissions than international flights and maritime shipping combined.
This enormous contributing factor to global emissions (around 10%) needs to be reduced, and adopting the principles of the circular economy would go a long way towards that reduction.
Circular fashion is the industry’s version of the circular economy, with three key areas:
Before anything goes to the factory to be made, it needs to be designed, and at this point, there is a huge opportunity to make a difference to the overall process.
Questions such as who is the product for?
What purpose does it serve?
Is it for one-time use or will it be around for years?
And when it does come to the end of its product life, then what happens to it?
Can it be recycled or will it end up in a landfill?
Getting these things right at the start can save a lot of time, effort, and money, as well as making things better for the environment.
Circular fashion means clothes are designed to last, are made from natural materials, and can be recycled at the end of their lives.
Sourcing textiles in a circular economy means using only natural materials.
We’ve talked before about how most clothes are made from plastics and how they’re damaging the environment by shedding microfibres with every wash.
Textile manufacturers should aim to source and produce locally, saving transportation costs while supporting local producers. Materials, of course, should be non-toxic and renewable, and while this might cost more, the goal isn’t focused on profit, but rather sustainability.
The thing about a circular fashion model is, everyone must work together or it all falls apart.
From designers, through to manufacturers, brands, and consumers, everyone needs to be on the same page to get the most out of clothing and reduce waste.
This requires a change in the zeitgeist, a collective agreement that the future of the planet is more important than profit.
Collaboration, support, and promotion of circular fashion is the only way it will ever get off the ground.
Could a circular fashion economy could be the future?
Did you know it takes the equivalent of two and a half years of fresh drinking water for one person to make a single T-shirt?
There’s a reason the textile industry is second only to the oil industry when it comes to pollution.
Around 60% of our clothes are made in the developing world, countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh, and the Philippines, with most of their raw materials shipped in from other counties.
Once these factories make their garments, at an incredible cost in pollution from dyes and chemicals, they are then transported again all over the world.
One giant shipping container produces the same amount of cancer-causing chemicals as 50 million cars.
Once all these garments are finally delivered to the stores, shops, and malls all over the world, they are then only worn a few times before being thrown out and dumped in a landfill.
Obviously, it’s not difficult to see why the system is broken and needs to be changed.
Circular fashion could be the answer.
But to work, everyone needs to be on-board.
Real change needs to come on a global scale, with production being scaled-down and consumers changing their buying habits.
immago is committed to a sustainable future, both as a company and for our clients.
We can help guide you through the oncoming changes the fashion and textile industries are about to encounter.
We take pride in always being at the forefront of the industry, flexible enough to change with the times, but strong enough to stay ahead.
If you would like to know more about circular fashion or how we can help to make your brand or packaging more sustainable, then contact us today.
Our friendly and experienced team will be happy to chat about you and your unique needs.