The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was established in 2010 to focus on accelerating the transition to a regenerative circular economy. It’s founder, Dame Ellen MacArthur, a retired English sailor, is famous for having held several world sailing records, including the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe, set in 2005. In November 2017, she and Stella McCartney co-hosted the launch of the Foundation’s new report “A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future”. This report was created by The Circular Fibres Initiative, an Foundation led effort which involves key textile and apparel industry leaders and stakeholders, to provide a roadmap to significantly improve Textile industry sustainability using principles of a circular economy.
The report, supported by several industry partners, including H&M, Lenzing, and Nike, presents ”the case for rethinking the global textiles system, starting with clothing”. The report outlines the increasingly damaging environmental impact of the apparel supply chain, highlighting the alarming growth of apparel production and waste deposited in landfills driven by the fast fashion trend and a growing global middle class. It also proposes the fundamentals of a “New Textile Economy”. The report calls for a collaborative effort involving the entire clothing supply chain to work to realize four ambitions which would greatly reduce waste and environmental impact and help move the textile and apparel industry much closer to a true circular economic model.
The four ambitions are:
· Phase out substances of concern and microfiber release,
· Transform the way clothes are designed, sold, and used to break free from their increasingly disposable nature,
· Radically improve recycling by transforming clothing design, collection, and reprocessing, and
· Make effective use of resources and move to renewable inputs.
I feel this report’s ambitions and recommendations are, for the most part, well thought out, economically feasible, and a workable blueprint for achieving significant improvement in the textile and apparel industry’s damaging impact on the environment. The vision this report presents will take a level of industry and governmental cooperation that is unprecedented and will be difficult to achieve. Incentive for change will ultimately be viewed through a combination of lenses, including profitability, job creation or destruction, relative health and environmental effects, social conscience and governmental regulation to name just a few.
I have thoughts on how each of these ambitions can be approached and some recommendations on how to achieve real and sustainable improvement for each. I will address these ambitions in order in my next few blogs.
I do believe the negative environmental impact of apparel is a significant global issue. I will give my opinion on ways we should and should not be dealing with it. I am sure there will be both agreement and conflicting opinions, and I would love to hear both. Please let me know what questions or concerns you have and I will respond. Thanks.