The Future is in Our Hands
World Environment Day is celebrated every year on 5 June. It’s especially topical this year with the recent release of the UN report revealing that nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history. The report has found that the current global response is insufficient; that transformative changes are needed to restore and protect nature and there are now one million species threatened with extinction.
This loss is a direct result of human activity and has a direct threat to our own future well-being.
The fact that our natural resources are at risk should be a major concern to everyone, especially as the population continues to grow, our natural resources are not able to replenish at a quick enough pace to keep up with this growth and our subsequent consumption habits.
We are living outside our means and we all know there is no second planet that we can pack up and move to. There is good news though, the current trajectory we are on can still be changed but only if WE, are willing to make a change.
So, where do we start?
Change falls on everyone’s shoulders; from consumers who drive demand with their consumption habits to businesses who design, manufacture and produce products. By being more conscious of the choices we make, our behaviour and our daily routine as well as voting with our money by purchasing from brands who operate within a circular economy and demanding more from those who don’t, we have the ability to put right what has gone so wrong.
What does this mean?
A circular economy is an economic eco-system aimed at minimising waste and making the most of resources. It starts at the design stage, reducing waste at all touchpoints, through ensuring more efficient use of raw materials, recycling, reusing, regenerating and embracing renewable resources in order to preserve the environment.
Currently, most businesses operate in a linear economy with a `make, use, dispose’ mentality, driven purely by profit. Whereas a circular economy operates economically whilst also integrating social and environmental policies into their operations.
There is friction between the existing linear system and this new and necessary approach, keeping affordable pricing while providing quality, ethically and sustainably made products and packaging (and still making a profit) is one of the biggest commercial challenges. The great news, there are brands successfully operating in this way, they are the game changers proving that you can be sustainable and make a profit.
Every business at each stage needs to search for ways to reduce their impact on the environment and lower their environmental footprint. If we use renewable resources, re-manufacture, reuse and recycle, and if one industry's waste becomes another's raw material, we can move toward a more circular economy where waste is reduced and resources are used in a sustainable way, leaving our planet and the species we share it with to thrive.
Here's WHY we love these brands operating in a circular economy...
With 11.2 billion pounds of plastic making their way into our oceans each year, 2.5 million plastic bottles disposed every hour in America alone and 200+ years for non-PET synthetic fibers to decompose, Wolven have made it their mission to Make Sustainability Sexy by giving plastic bottles a second life. Behind the brand, a team of artists and activists work to erase the negative footprints on our earth, they believe that a collective effort of sustainability has the capacity to change the trajectory towards a healthier, more verdant planet.
Locally sewn, Wolven use OEKO-Tex Certified Recycled P.E.T., an innovative, versatile fabric created by breaking down plastics into fine yarns that can be woven into textiles and apparel that is breathable, incredibly soft, and durable. They also source Carbon Neutral Modal Fabric which is a cellulose fiber derived from beechwood pulp that’s twice as soft as cotton and produced from wood-pulp fibers that are sustainably harvested.
Packaged in a reusable, 100% recycled poly mailer or Lenzing paper box, Wolven are sustainable throughout their entire supply chain whilst also investing in programs such as The Web Neutral Project, replacing those resources they use.
AURAI, (Latin) is a swimwear brand with a new generation of products and materials. ECONYL® is a revolutionary polyamide fibre made from 100% regenerated material, pre and post-consumer nylon waste such as nylon plastic scraps, old carpets and fish nets that litter our oceans. AMNI SOUL ECO® is made from a polyamide with an improved formulation that accelerates biodegradation in the anaerobic environment, common in most landfills. Traditionally, a polyamide fiber takes decades to disintegrate but the AMNI SOUL ECO® yarn biodegrades by 50% in just over one year, with an estimation that after 28 months, it will biodegrade 100%.
Both fabrics are OEKO TEX certified, meaning no harmful substances are used during their manufacturing and with their packaging consisting of recycled paper, reusable and compostable bags, AURAI aim to protect the planet at every touchpoint throughout their supply chain.
Sustainability is ingrained in AURAI brand ethos, with the materials they source, their Collections are locally designed and handmade, their production process not only includes upcycling and recycling but also water conservation, ethical practise and supporting cruelty free. Working alongside 2 NGO’s, AURAI are aligned to the preservation of the ocean and support cancer rehabilitation with a masectomy-friendly 2019 Collection.
ELVIS & KRESSE
Elvis & Kresse was set up in 2005 to help solve the problem of material ending up in landfill. They started with London’s decommissioned Fire-hoses and then tackled the problem of cutting room floor leather waste. It is estimated that we make 400 billion m2 of textiles annually, 60 billion m2 is cutting room floor waste that mostly ends up in landfill.
Through upcycling these materials into sustainable luxury leather bags and accessories, ethically handmade by craftsmen, Elvis & Kresse have prevented all UK’s decommissions fire-hoses from ending up in landfill since 2010. Having solved London’s fire-hose waste problem Elvis & Kresse took on an even larger problem; leather waste, of which 800,000 tons end up in landfill each year. In 2017 they partnered with The Burberry Foundation to help tackle their leather waste issue and, since this partnership formed, Elvis & Kresse have saved over 200 tons of material going to landfill.
Not only does Elvis & Kresse upcycle fire hoses & leather waste but also reclaimed parachute silk, auction banners, and printing blankets. Sustainability is at the core of their entire operation right down to their workshop which is run on renewable energy, and to top it off, they also donate 50% of their profits to charity.
As consumers, we have a significant and crucial role to play. By making more conscious choices, buying less and buying quality products that are made to last from companies who are respectful of both people and planet is not only better for our bank balance in the long run but it’s also better on the environment.
- In fashion, 80 billion pieces of clothing is consumed globally every year with most people regularly wearing only 20% of their wardrobe
- 84% of all unwanted clothes end up landfills
- 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic has been created to date (packaging accounts for more than 40%), with 6.3 billion metric tons ending up as plastic waste
- Roughly 12 billion metric tons of plastic waste will end up in landfills or littering our natural environment by 2050
There is already 165 million tons of waste in our marine environment, of which 80 percent is a form of plastic killing marine life and polluting a once healthy and thriving ecosystem and as landfills continue to reach capacity, more are created at the expense of valuable forests and wetlands.
If we don’t purposely change the way we behave and consume, we will eventually have no choice but to adapt to whatever environment we are left to live within - every single one of us. I know these statistics were enough to encourage me to make changes, the question now is whether you are willing to join me before it’s too late.
Photo: Mert Guller, Unsplash