We are living in a hostile world with wars, natural disaster, rising temperature, living being at the threat of being extinct, pollution, etc. Many of these are because of depleting global resources and climate change.
To save mankind and civilization, we need quick action plans not to worsen the situation, if not reverse it. There are many smaller efforts at personal or organizational or institutional level that would collectively help us fight those challenges by reconsidering how we design, use and dispose the foods we eat, clothes we wear, furniture and household appliances we use, car we drive or even sewerage we manage.
Clothing is one of the major reasons of landfill, pollution and biodiversity loss.
Between 2000 to 2015, the clothing production increased to double, thankfully, the utilization decreased by 36% [Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017].
In the later years, Covid-19 slowed down the fashion industry. Morgan and Stanley reported that this slow down brought in lowest-ever price level, the decline in revenues, overstocks, stock-outs, and returns which resulted in 40% drop in profit margin from 2016 to 2019.
It is estimated that in 2020 fashion industry suffered 90% profit decline in the fashion industry [Fashion United, 2020]. This will make the clothing even much cheaper.
The social and environmental requirements for apparel and textile manufacturers are likely to be compromised. Let us think about a cotton T-shirt.
It starts with cotton plantation, harvesting and then delivering the raw fiber to a spinning mill to make it into a yarn. It is then knitted into a fabric and dyed and finished into sellable cloth.
Garment factories cut, sew and pack it into a T-shirt to be sold in a store. Consumers buy it, wear it and when it is worn out throw it as a waste ending up in landfill or incineration.
This is the linear model of fashion. Traditional economic process is also linear and creates waste. If it were a circular business model, the consumer would try to wear the cotton T-shirt again and again for maximum usage by one or more people.
If it was damaged consumer would repair it or add some accessories in order to give it a newer look. At some point, it would reach a limit when it can no longer be used.
Then consumer would deposit it to some retailer or agency who collect old clothes and recycle those to be made into a new product. Once it would no longer be recycled, it would be composted into the mother nature.
Such a start with new product derives the name for circular fashion. In this model a product is not making any waste. Therefore, recycling and composting are two important elements of the circular economy for fashion.
This enhances the journey of the product for an endless time and maintain or saves the energy, effort and investment in the cotton T-shirt.
This sounds like a very simple solution to circular economy. However, there is no universal circular economy policy.