circular economy

The Circular Economy & Recycling

As we know, the world is moving toward sustainability. But, we have a lot more work to do if we want to arrest the damage done. That’s where the circular economy comes in, recycling and conscious consumerism that everyone could do. After the pandemic, the circular economy picked up steam. What the world realized, for example, is that with the reduction in travel, global emissions went down. As a result, we started to see the planet and its animals doing better. And that served as a reminder that we had to do more in many ways to save this extraordinary planet, our home.

recycling jeans

What is the Circular Economy?

If you’re not familiar with the circular economy, not to worry. Essentially, the circular economy is a global effort to get down to zero waste. Because of it, recycling plays a big part. For example, many families might not realize it, but clothing and shoes make up a significant portion of what’s in landfills worldwide. So not only do manufacturers and the fashion industry have to do better, but so do we. We can’t just keep purchasing whatever the new trend is and tossing away last year’s fashion. That’s not sustainable.

recycled fashion

What the Fashion Should and Is Doing for the Planet

For years, the fashion industry has existed on the allure of having the best outfits and look. Spring and fall collections, along with marketing efforts, celebrity endorsements, and influencers, pushed the idea that you just had to have the latest look. Unfortunately, it’s created a tremendous amount of waste. Of course, that meant that millions of articles of clothing and shoes got trashed, ending up in landfills around the world. Sure, some have done recycling, but overall, massive amounts of waste occurred propagated by the fashion industry and savvy marketers.

Fortunately, that’s changing. Today’s younger designers and clothing manufacturing companies are looking to upend the industry. They understand that throwing millions, if not billions, of pounds of clothing and textiles into the trash and landfills is not sustainable. It’s not good for human health when these articles get incinerated. And, it’s simply impossible to get rid of the vast amounts of apparel if we keep going at the same pace. Instead, new clothing brands are leaning into creating clothing from recycled materials.

But some established brands also understand that they have to innovate and do better. For example, a multinational company, Nike, has aggressively moved to focus on sustainable materials. For years, as a company, they’ve amped up their move toward designing and manufacturing apparel and athletic shoes as they move toward zero carbon and zero waste. But, Nike’s not the only company leaning into the circular economy. Other companies include Ikea, Addidas, and H&M.



How Can Consumers Support the Circular Economy?

The reality is that companies respond to what their customers want, so the public has a lot of power with their wallets. So, how could you or anyone support the circular economy? Well, you could do a few things to ensure that you support sustainability efforts.


clothes donation

1. Donate Your Clothes and Shoes to Charity

One of the best things you could do with the clothes and shoes you have in your closet that you don’t need anymore is to donate them to charity. The reality is that even if you don’t want to wear the apparel anymore, they still have value. Organizations and people could still use them. So, even if you decide that you want to purchase new items because it’s been years since you got new clothing, don’t throw things in the trash. Help others by donating and recycling.

reusable bag


2. Purchase Products with Recycled Materials

Again, businesses will continue to change their business models if they realize that consumers won’t purchase wastefully. One of the best ways to do this is only to buy items manufactured from recycled materials. What’s more, this sends a signal to manufacturers and retailers that you want them to produce and stock recycled products. So, don’t be afraid to ask for recycled products, and if retailers don’t have them, take your business elsewhere.

thought leader

3. Be a Thought Leader in Your Community

Do you own a shop, or do you volunteer at a community center or school? Well, you could help your community understand the value of the circular economy and getting to zero waste. Why not do a fundraising clothing drive and collect shoes and clothing in your community? Something else you could do is to help spread and share information about recycling, sustainability, and the circular economy. By aligning your organization with the movement, you’ll become a community thought leader.

the conscious consumer


4. Become a Conscious Consumer

As a consumer, commit to becoming a more conscious consumer related to sustainability and your part in the circular economy. There are two ways to do it well. One is not to buy just to buy. In other words, consume less. Purchase products only when you need them. Secondly, when you decide that you need to get some product, be intentional in what you buy. For example, as we mentioned, look for recycled or repurposed (e.g., second-hand) products.

Everyone plays a part in the circular economy. Businesses have to continue to become more aware of the products they produce and how they make them. In other words, they have to move toward recycling and becoming carbon-neutral companies. Consumers and the public have a lot of power to push them in that direction. Of course, social media is a large public square where people can engage companies directly. But, also how we purchase and when is vital to ensuring our support of the circular economy.



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