When you find out about the circular economy, it makes perfect sense.
I was amazed I had never thought about this way of working before. All my training was based on the linear model and I had never heard of the circular economy in the first part of my career. We need to be more like nature, nature never wastes anything. Everything is used to create the circle of life. Look no further than the Lion King for more information on this !
The majority of companies that sell consumer goods, including the fashion & apparel industry, work along the lines of a linear economy. We take resources from the planet to make goods, we use these and when we no longer want them, we discard them.
The world’s resources need to be carefully managed, so we are not at risk
from shortages. With planet temperature rising, this can effect natural materials, in turn this could cause fibres price rises.
A circular economy will reuse and recycle these resources, so we are not always taking from the planet. We also need to recognise there is no infinite garbage bin to cope with this way of consumerism. Post-consumer garment waste needs to be addressed, we are wearing more for less time. Reusing this waste creates a clothing circle of life.
So to be able to transition to a circular economy we need to look at how we can reuse garments at the end of their life, instead of burning them or sending them to landfill. There are many exciting individuals and companies looking into different fibre recycling. At present single fibre compositions are easier to recycle, either mechanically or chemically. There are research projects looking at cotton/polyester blends amongst others. This brings about a whole new way of design and process.
More thought must be given to fabric choices when designing new garments but also the ease of removing trims, that cannot be recycled with the fabric. It is time now, that brands and retailers need to take ownership of garments that they sell. Who is responsible for collecting and reusing the garments once they are no longer needed or wanted.
The circular economy is a chance to re-think, re-inspire and in time reduce costs. It’s an opportunity for newness in an old kind of way, perfect for fashion.