Circling Around: Stop f’ing up the Planet
by Peggy Blum
Our relationship with our clothes has changed significantly over the last century, with the most dramatic shift taking place in the last three decades. The increasing speed of our consumption habits fueled by a reciprocal increase in the speed of fashion production has resulted in what is known to industry insiders as a “take-make-waste” business model.
This problem doesn’t end with the physical waste that fails to biodegrade in our landfills but extends to precious resources such as water, energy, nature, animals, people, and the time spent to make clothing that we, the consumers, so easily discard. Many of us fall victim into a mindless cycle of acquiring and discarding clothing instead of taking the time to truly value and use them to the end of their lifespan.
So, how can we challenge ourselves to think more deeply about our clothing? And how can we teach ourselves and others to move away from being a culture of fashion throwaway to a culture of fashion preservation?
For a moment, imagine a circle. It’s round, and all points on the curved line are an equal distance from the center point. Now, what if, instead of discarding those clothes to landfills, we circle that material back around into the fashion production supply chain to make some truly amazing products of the future? We have the goods. The average U.S. household has $7,000 worth of unused goods hanging around and according to NPD Group data, these used clothes could put $875 billion back into the economy. Say what?
Circularity in fashion, also known as the Circular Supply Chain is about efficiency, eliminating waste and using renewable energy, as well as keeping products at their highest value for the longest time. It is about recycling and repairing your clothes. It is also about using sustainable and renewable materials, without any toxic chemicals.
During the most recent London Fashion Week, English designers Vin + Omi featured clothes only crafted from sustainable textiles and processes. “Thought is the new religion,” said Vin before the show, “because it’s about doing it in a different way, concerning everything you do, see and buy,” explaining that the collection’s subtitle, “Poodles and Pentagrams,” depicts the new wave of “eco-religion.”
Take responsibility for the full lifecycle of your clothing. Wear it often and buy less. Read labels. We have no Planet B.