The evolution of clothing over the years has been quite commendable. From being used as mere garments to cover one’s modesty to being used as a way to prove a point, their rise has been due to the persistent efforts of the fashion industry.
However, when you think about the fashion industry, you can imagine thousands and millions of discarded clothes. Fortunately, that might not always be the case. The concept of circular economy ensures that fashion does not face the issue of generating tons of waste every year. But is the idea as perfect as it seems on paper?
Circular Economy in Fashion
The concept of circular economy is simple – extending a product’s lifecycle. It can be done by sharing, leasing, reusing, or even recycling the materials of the product. However, the definition might make you wonder – was the concept designed with fashion in mind?
The term was popularised by books like The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth by Kenneth Boulding and Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by Michael Braungart and Bill McDonough. Not to mention, the principle was first tossed around in the 20th century to answer the wastage problem.
Waste occurs in numerous industries over the world. This model ensures that garments are used for extended periods, helping tone down the energy requirements to produce new clothes. This practice is also synonymous with the preservation of natural resources.
But why is there a need for a circular economy in fashion?
The Fashion Industry and Wastage
It might be easier to understand the concept’s relevance in the fashion industry through some numbers. Currently, the global apparel market is valued at an estimated 3 trillion dollars and employs over 75 million people worldwide.
On paper, it looks as if fashion is contributing significantly to GDP and increasing employment opportunities. However, every coin has two sides. The United States Environmental Protection Agency produced some exciting findings to represent the other side:
- 17 million tons of textile were generated in 2018 alone
- 2.5 million tons of textile were recycled
- 3.2 million tons were combusted
- 11.1 million tons were thrown into landfills
Not only do these wastes add to the pollution of the soil, but they also lead to an increase in demand since individuals discard their old clothes instead of donating or recycling. So, how do you solve this issue?
Fortunately, cloth manufacturers are taking note of the issue and making certain adjustments. For instance, brands have started promoting wool, a fibre that combines sustainability with less energy consumption.
Buying a sustainable piece of clothing has no downsides since they are available in multiple designs while allowing you to reuse them as and when required. You can also recycle the materials down the line.
With the population trends pointing upwards, natural resources will struggle to keep up with the increasing demands. Hence, the shift towards circular fashion needs to happen as soon as possible.
Everyone has a part to play in bringing change. As a consumer, you can try out brands promoting circular fashion and encourage others to do so. If consumers support circular fashion, other brands will have no choice but to adapt. There are many reasons why woollen fibres will become popular, especially because they are sustainable. So, purchase your first woollen garment today!