I want to encourage all of the stakeholders — brands and consumers — to work together to move the needle, as we look to mitigate fashion and textile waste impact over the next two decades.
On a Friday afternoon last November, the United States was shaken by the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA). From wildfires in California to crop failure in the Midwest, the report laid out the devastating impact climate change is having and will continue to have on the United States. The key takeaway? They are expecting a severe economic and humanitarian crisis to hit our world by 2040.
The NCA touched on important topics such as coal, energy, forestry, oil and transportation, but another industry was completely left off the list: Textile production and waste. While 2018 saw continued awareness and education on the topic, we need to do more than just talk — we need feasible solutions to reduce textile waste and increase circularity in the industry.
Last year, I talked about how we are all stakeholders in the fashion industry. This year, I want to build on that and encourage all of the stakeholders — brands and consumers — to work together to move the needle, as we look to mitigate fashion and textile waste impact over the next two decades.
What’s the big deal with textiles?
From the natural resources that are used to create our clothing to the number of textiles that end up in landfills when they could be reused, the fashion industry has become one of the world’s top polluters.
Working together to achieve a solution
While the numbers are troublesome and there is more work to be done, 2018 was a year of progress among brands. To do even more, together, it is vital we capitalize on a circular economy — a common thread between brands and consumers. At the core of a circular economy is a model that’s focused on durability, reusability and renewability.
Here are a few ways we can level up our efforts:
Influencers in the reuse space need to work together to shift consumer mindsets. At Savers®, we do this by encouraging people to embrace circular behaviors such as buying used instead of new and giving their unwanted items a new home, rather than throwing them in the trash. We must take advantage of the most sustainable items — the ones that already exist.
For the consumer, positive impact means taking an active role in supporting the brands that are working to make a meaningful difference today. The more consumers reward brands that put an emphasis on circular business practices, the more brands will want to do the right thing. After all, consumers are a brand’s single driving force.
In its sustainability trend report, J. Walter Thompson Intelligence shared that 90 percent of consumers believe brands have a responsibility to take care of the planet and its people. This means companies are expected to employ their resources and innovate together to develop the technology necessary to make recycled and regenerated fibers a real possibility. Improving society and doing well go hand in hand, and brands don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. A collective breakthrough would not only transform the sustainability of the entire industry, it could also be the single greatest environmental impact of a generation.
Join me in a circular future
Looking ahead, I’m optimistic that with a greater commitment, we can achieve the change needed to help improve the conditions of our planet before 2040.
I’m encouraging an open dialogue between brands and consumers to discuss each other’s challenges, goals and advances. I hope 2019 finds us exploring, learning and innovating together as we work toward circularity.
Our future depends on it.