As a manufacturer and designer of clothing made from recycled bottles, we strive to stay front-and-center when it comes to the movement toward sustainability across fashion and other consumer sectors. So we jumped at the chance to join National Geographic for a sustainability summit, The Circular Economy, at Nat Geo’s Washington, DC headquarters this week. Here are our key takeaways from a truly fascinating day of discussion:
We’re on the right track. A study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation predicts there will be more plastic in our waterways than fish by 2050 (!)—and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Brands that don’t think about the lifecycle of their products, and innovations that can make them part of the solution, will fall by the wayside.
We’re in good company. It turns out that in today’s marketplace, doing the right thing from the very beginning serves brands well and positions them for authentic leadership. Milliken, owner of our fabric manufacturer Polartec, was just awarded as a World’s Most Ethical Company for just this kind of leadership.
We’re all part of the solution. Sustainable branding expert Janice Wallace of The Fashion Parade noted that we expand our wardrobes by 60 percent every year, and keep clothing half as long as we used to. In order to truly turn the tide, we need to change our habits and create demand for industries to make the shift toward a sustainable supply chain.
Here are some steps we can all take (starting today!):
- Shop our closets. Repurpose existing pieces, repair or renovate (rather than discard) things that don’t work exactly right and swap with friends to give items new life.
- Be conscious. When shopping new, choose brands with sustainable products (like ours!) and practices. And consider supplementing new items with vintage—there’s nothing like the time-won patina of something with a little history!
- Recycle. It seems obvious, but when possible, buy recycled items and avoid consuming items that will eventually need discarding (like single-use plastic). And discard textiles responsibly.
- Speak up. Let businesses you frequent know that sustainability is important to you. Companies like ours listen to—and value—customer feedback! And tell your elected officials, too—from local on up. Real change requires everyone at the table.