Is “Circularity” Making a Difference?

Though a number of well-intentioned clothing brands have made “circularity” — a production cycle wherein “products and materials are recovered, regenerated and reused” — a goal in the past year, Business of Fashion is wondering whether that’s actually making the industry a less wasteful place, or if it’s just another platitude to tamper the guilt of overconsumption.

While the concept of circularity has near consensus approval in the fashion industry, currently, “less than 1 percent of the materials used to create clothing is recycled into new clothing.” And despite a host of companies that say the right things, BoF writes that “agreeing to the goal is the easy part,” but often times, “circularity begins and ends with marketing campaigns, or capsule collections featuring recycled material, an approach some activists liken to greenwashing.”

“For fast-fashion businesses that live or die by how often their customers’ flex their spending muscle, recycling, with its implicit promise of guilt-free consumption, is attractive,” the story says, but “balancing profitability with strategies that aim to reduce consumption is a trickier proposition.”

Especially when (over)consumption is the primary goal of the brands tasked with curbing it. “Many environmental activists blame [fast fashion] for soaring volumes of clothing waste. Americans throw away about 26 billion pounds of apparel and textiles every year, according to Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association.”

Further complicating matters – and making fast fashion brands’ claims of circularity all the more suspect – is that the science necessary to really make circularity a viable and adoptable practice is still “years or even decades away.”

So what’s a better, more attainable goal, according to BoF? Just make better clothes, tbh. “Ideally, apparel companies will adopt strategies to prolong the life of clothes, rather than making their disposal more efficient… [and they] could produce higher-quality garments that last longer or promote clothing repairs.”

You can read more about it at Business of Fashion.

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