Textiles | Waste Reduction Week in Canada

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In this session we have invited three representatives from pioneering circular business models in the fashion industry. We’ll be discussing what the key customers trends are impacting the industry right now, what the potential of circular business models within the industry is, and what would be the impact of these on our future wardrobes.

In September, the fashion industry’s efforts in the areas of sustainability, resale and recycling continued. Brands and retailers have accepted the challenge to produce greener, more sustainable and resourceful products, campaigns and ways of operating. As far as cooperations are concerned, industry leaders and brands remain interested and join forces for innovative projects. FashionUnited found 32 sustainable initiatives, which were announced in the month of September alone.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began early this year, textile recyclers and exporters have had to cut their prices to shift stock as lockdown measures restrict movement and business slows in end markets abroad. For many, it’s no longer commercially viable and they can’t afford to move merchandise.

From London to Los Angeles, many thrift shops and clothing banks outside stores and on streets have been deluged with more clothes than could be sold on, leading to mountains of garments building up in sorting warehouses.

Metro Vancouver has launched Think Thrice About Your Clothes, a new waste reduction campaign aimed at cutting the amount of clothing being thrown out in the region.

Textile waste is one of the fastest-growing categories of waste, currently accounting for five per cent of the annual total garbage produced each year in the region. Last year, Metro Vancouver residents threw out more than 44 million pounds of textiles, equivalent to the weight of 44 T-shirts per person.

Clothes thrown away account for a huge amount of waste in garbage dumps, according to CBC Marketplace's latest investigation. Canadians on average purchase 70 new articles of clothing a year and that contributes to the 12 million tons a year of textile waste dumped into North America's landfills. Some retailers have launched sustainability campaigns and set up in-store bins for recycling old items, but it's no solution to the endless onslaught of throw-away clothes

Looop is the world’s first in-store recycling system turning old garments into new ones. In just eight steps, Looop shreds your old garment and knits a new one from the old fibres. No water, no dye. The only thing added is some sustainably sourced material to strengthen the yarn. This has to be done since the mechanical shredding shortens the fibres of your old garment. 

Portugal has been a place for fashion manufacturing for some time now. What they are also well known for is their use and manufacturing of the natural Cork material they earnestly harvest from Cork Oak trees.

One Cork Oak can yield about 100 pounds of cork bark when ripe, which takes place every nine years. While the tree itself can live up to 200 years, the harvesting does not harm the tree, and trees are marked to ensure proper harvesting. 

It would be a stretch to suggest that their products might save the planet, but perhaps they can offer inspiration for a different perspective. If we can all reframe our own ideas about waste as they have, we will have taken another step in the journey towards a thriving circular economy – one that can meet the needs of the present, while leaving the planet in a state that allows future generations to meet their needs, too.

The fashion industry produces more harmful carbon emissions than the aviation and shipping industries combined. Does your closet contribute to climate change? Find out with thredUP’s fashion footprint calculator.


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