Why The Circular Economy Will Not Fix Fashion’s Sustainability Problem – Forbes

Written by Gulnaz Khusainova

Fashion has a sustainability problem. In 2015 the industry was responsible for the emission of 1,715 million tons of CO2. It’s about 5.4% of the 32.1 billion tons of global carbon emissions and just second after the Oil & Gas industry. Global apparel and footwear consumption are expected to nearly double in the next 15 years – and so its negative impact on the environment.

In the last several years, the industry and consumers have finally started focusing more on this problem – many initiatives and awareness campaigns have been launched. A big emphasis was and still is, on the circular economy as an alternative to the linear economy.

The circular economy is a system in which resource input and waste, emission, and energy leakage are minimised by slowing, closing, and narrowing energy and material loops. Whereas the linear economy, that is usually defined by a “take – make – dispose” model, often leads to single-use products.

In the fashion context, the circular economy is usually achieved by designing long-lasting, timeless pieces (vs. fast fashion’s seasonality) and many RE-s: repair, reuse, recycle, refurbish to extend the lifetime of an item (from single-use to multiple lives). There are a lot of great examples of circularity in fashion: from consignment services, like Vestiare Collective, TheRealReal, thredUP; a new generation of direct-to-consumer brands focusing on timeless collections with Everlane leading the movement; or collection and recycling programs, for example by Zara and H&M, where shoppers can drop off textile and clothing that they no longer use for brands to recycle.

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By Maria Ordonez
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