Fashion brands’ sustainable policies are focused on recycling and renting clothes as sustainable, but new research suggests otherwise. When comparing the greenhouse gas emissions connected to different circular and sustainable business models, renting has the highest climate impact of all according to a recent study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters . Recycling, on the other hand, should neither be our first option, since the processes involved in industrial recycling also generate a lot of harmful emissions into the environment and as we are still developing the fabric recovery technologies, the results are poor in quality.
Circular business models for fashion
A circular system opposes our traditional linear system of make, use and dispose. Instead, it encourages to keep resources in good use, minimizing transformation processes and respecting the original value. This is why the best solution for unsold stock is to make sure they get to their first use. Only at the end of a garment’s useful life should this be recycled to make new clothes and reduce the need for further extraction of natural resources.
The best circular solution for unsold stock (brand new) clothes is, of course, to reach their first use, as it keeps the original value of the clothes and needs no transformation processes. The following most interesting option is upcycling, as it transforms the item but it adds value. Renting generates a high amount of harmful emissions because of all the transportation involved in sending clothes back and forth from consumers to warehouses. Only when the clothes have ended their useful wear life, they should be considered for recycling, as it demands high dedication of resources for transforming them into new textiles. The destruction/landfills of clothing
Do not fix what is not broken: overstock
This is the reason why in Tekstila we promote responsible stock management by integrating resale into the fast fashion business at an early stage. In fact, it’s a pre-consumer stage when the clothes have not even been used before. This gives new clothes their first chance, respecting all resources and energy allocated in their production and making sure they get to be worn before entering next stages of the circularity process.