Recycle your ideas for the future of fashion
Let’s talk about recycling. We should all do it, right? Well, yes, we should – but the world turns and stumbles, creating ripples across our anthropogenic reality. Truth is, the reality is more complicated than ever – navigating it without drowning requires clarity of mind and unknown amounts of luck. As with everything, recycling comes with some caveats (don’t change the channel).
First, let’s say it out loud: recycling is the future of fashion – or, at the very least, the future of fashion depends on it. When we started Ina Koelln, we were adamant on betting big on recycling (and still are). Ina Koelln has always been keen on being green, so we set out to find the best environmental solutions to create a conscious, sustainable fashion.
One of the solutions we found was take-back schemes for clothes – simply put, the re-utilization of clothes through recycling and transformation.
Here’s the thing: take-back schemes are not a panacea for recycling in fashion. Over the years, the Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF) has studied the rising phenomenon of clothes recycling and reaches some very eye-opening conclusions:
It’s not waste-free. Recycling clothes not only demands energy and resources but, in some cases, the use of chemicals as well, undermining one of the main reasons to recycle in the first place: reduce waste.
The technology is not yet there. The CSF states that mechanical recycling technologies have changed little in 200 years. Several Nobel prizes in economics (William Nordhaus and Paul Romer, in 2018, being the most recent) have stated that, not only you can create value and new markets through the so-called “green economy”, but the field is wide open, waiting for the innovators of the 21st century to create new technologies in recycling and green energy. Being one of the most polluting industries in the world, the world of fashion is in dire need of innovation in this department!
There is no strategy implemented. Take-back schemes come in a variety of ways – some city councils may bolster clothes donating programs; some fashion brands may offer incentives for you to return old and used clothes. The reality, though, is that a grand, unified strategy for the recycling of garments has never been implemented. Not only that, but we still only think of paper, glass, and plastic when we think about recycling. It is urgent to bring to the conversation fashion and its role in recycling clothes.
It’s on us. We at Ina Koelln use recycled polymers on some of our bags’ linings and will continue to use recycled materials when it makes sense (learn more about our use of recycled materials on our website’s “Materials” section). Because we must not only recycle: we must do it the right way. It is only by having clear, bigger conversations about important issues that we collectively find the right way forward. Start the conversation! And remember: your soul should always look as good as the clothes you rock.
Image Credit: Eluxe Magazine