What is the lifecycle of the clothing you’re wearing right now? For most of us, it starts with our purchase, then ends with a motivated deep closet clean-out.
But did you know your clothing can be recycled once it leaves your wardrobe? Not only can it be recycled, but it should be! Although it doesn’t have the familiar recycling symbols that we recognize on plastic, paper, and glass, it’s extremely important that our textiles get the same treatment. Every second, a garbage truck of clothing is taken to a landfill or incinerator!
A lot of our clothing waste can be attributed to the industries and trends that promote “fast fashion.” Fast fashion creates truck loads of waste and pollution, accelerating the effects of climate change. In fact, fast fashion industries emit an astounding 2.1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases each year.
So, now: what’s the lifecycle of the clothing you’re wearing right now? Still unsure? Let’s look at the issue a little more closely to help you find that answer, and let’s explore circular fashion as a solution that can help reverse climate change and redefine the fashion system as we know it.
Together, we can green the red carpet.
Dhana Inc.: Offering a Connection Between People, Planet, and Clothing
First founded in 2008 as a youth sustainability brand Dhana has evolved into a fashion technology company that aims to unite humanity through fashion and reduce the impact of the fashion industry on climate change.
Dhana is committed to accountability and transparency in their supply chains and is both a Certified B Corp and Fair Trade Certified business. The company was designed to prioritize people, planet, and profit.
As one of the 90 signatories of the The Global Fashion Agenda and participants of the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, Dhana went beyond the requirements to take action on sustainability and circularity by creating the world’s first Circular Memory Jacket.
Oh, we already mentioned it? Okay! Just one more time.
This zero-waste jacket that incorporates the customer into each step of the process. As a fashion company without inventory (whaaat?), customers choose materials by selecting their favorite garments to be turned into a fresh new jacket. Customers can also speak with the workers making their clothing.
This composition brings together the functionality of your favorite jacket with the comfort of your favorite tee. This level of transparency is a new standard in the fashion and textile ecosystem.
Shamini Dhana, CEO and Founder of Dhana Inc.
Prior to founding Dhana, Shamini worked for 20 years in international strategy and global operations. She strives to connect people to the clothes they wear and has launched successful campaigns that educate students and children about their environmental impact in the fashion industry.
Shamini is active in the sustainable fashion industry and serves as a board member for Climate Ride, Ethical Fashion Forum, and even served as an associated producer of The Trust Cost film.
“We have a problem, this is a $3 trillion industry where almost 70% of it ends up in the landfill or is burned. That’s over 10% of all carbon emissions today on this earth. And if left unchecked, it’s going to go up to 50%. ”
Taking Action on Sustainable Fashion
There are actions we can take as consumers to reduce demand on unsustainable practices and reduce our own individual impacts while helping to reverse climate change.
- Recycling: There are a lot of low-resistance opportunities to recycle your old clothes. You can use an online service like Helpsy, send them to ThredUp, or recycle them with a textile recycler. Companies like Marine Layer will take t-shirts of any size or color and use the recycled materials to create new clothing.
- Reuse: Shop your closet! What haven’t you worn this year? Try mixing and matching what you already have to make your clothes feel new or do a clothing swap with friends.
- Support: Follow brands that follow sustainable fashion practices. Source quality, circular fashion items.
- Wash Less: A simple way to contribute to the circular fashion industry is to wash your clothing less! This helps garments last longer and keeps microfibers (which are plastic) from entering waterways frequently. It’s a great way to save energy at home and save our oceans. It’s an easy win-win.
- Spot & Avoid Greenwashing: In the fashion industry, so many manufacturers take advantage of our good intentions and use buzzwords to advertise new clothing lines that aren’t as sustainable as they may suggest. While companies like H&M have textile recycling programs, they also still use harmful practices to churn out more cheap styles. Learn what signals you can notice to identify truly socially responsible companies that have the health of the planet and people at their core.
Closing: What is the Future of Fashion?
The future of fashion is completely circular! Fashion can be a totally renewable industry with an entirely new textiles economy that supports workers and the planet while still providing the essential clothing we need each day.
Companies already have the tools to make fashion a more personal, unique, and sustainable process, and consumers are ready for the transition.
By implementing circular design strategies that produce high-quality clothes, promote recyclability, and engage conscious business practices, we will start to see greenhouse gas emissions from the fashion industry decrease.
Greening your closet doesn’t have to be a pricey experience for the everyday person. You can find a better-for-the-world option from sustainable shoes to your go-to adventure jacket. Rip in your favorite jacket? Learn to sew it back together or maybe it’s time you meet your local tailor!
A circular model isn’t limited to fashion, it’s also been applied to food through regenerative agriculture, to urban systems, and even to daily house products. As an individual, you can support these practices in so many ways (see above!), making a profound impact on the health of our climate.
Additional Resources & Links Mentioned from the Episode:
Content Manager & Writer, Grow Ensemble
Jacqueline is a mission-driven freelance writer living in Nashville, TN. She graduated from Dickinson College with a degree in Environmental Studies and a certificate in Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Prior to being a freelancer, she worked in the nonprofit world in Washington D.C. for Ashoka and the National Building Museum.
Jacqueline enjoys hiking with her rescue dog, finding craft breweries, and traveling the globe in search of plant-based eats.