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Sustainable fashion

The issue

Fashion has been claimed to be one of the most polluting industries with the deepest dives into quantifying its sustainability metrics resulting in estimations from 4% to 10% of the yearly global emissions according to the reports of McKinsey, BCG – Pulse of the Fashion Industry Report, World Economic Forum or the UN. Due to the global nature of the industry as well as its complex, multilevel and not so transparent supply chain, the data used for this quantification are often either proprietary or poor or the methodology is not peer-reviewed or all of the above. However, there is an inherent principle in its function that seems to guarantee its sizable negative impact and its continuous worsening which is the need for accelerating growth linked to shorter production times, cheaper materials and “new lines”. As a result (among others), oil-based synthetic materials with polyester being number one among them have taken over the global fibre production representing more than half of it.

The way forward

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has set a vision for fashion which we wholeheartedly embrace and consider the way forward if we are about to improve and eventually solve the problem. A circular fashion industry, where products (apparel, footwear, accessories) are used more, made to be made again, made from safe and recycled or renewable inputs.

The EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles set out its ambitious vision along the same lines and defined concrete actions to ensure that by 2030 textile products placed on the EU market are long-lived and recyclable, made as much as possible of recycled fibres, free of hazardous substances and produced in respect of social rights and the environment. Consumers will benefit longer from high-quality textiles, fast fashion should be out of fashion, and economically profitable re-use and repair services should be widely available. In a competitive, resilient and innovative textiles sector, producers have to take responsibility for their products along the value chain, including when they become waste. In this way, the circular textiles ecosystem will be thriving, and be driven by sufficient capacities for innovative fibre-to-fibre recycling, while the incineration and landfilling of textiles have to be reduced to the minimum.

Action

ZELUS contributes to this vision by utilizing a twofold approach:

  1. Helping companies and organisations collect data about their supply chains and enhance transparency in order to increase awareness and rethink fashion design, operations and business models.
  2. Addressing customers and enabling a habitual change in the way clothes are used by educating the audience on loving what they own, evaluating materials, taking care of their clothes, and introducing them to alternative options that satisfy their need for “newness” without necessarily as big as an impact. See our “Digital Closet” project called VÒNG.

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