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What Goes Around Comes Around (let's hope!)

Circular Economy

By: Davide Colombo;

What Goes Around Comes Around (let's hope!)

One book that I recall reading as a child discussed Japanese culture.
One of the many traditions that stuck in my mind after reading this amazing book was that it had a lot of ideas that could sound alien to those of us in the West.

People used to refrain from throwing broken household items — particularly ceramic pots or glass — in the trash back in the old days. This is due to the fact that Japan was historically an island with relatively limited resources of coal, iron, wood, and other materials, and this poverty beautifully shaped the Japanese people's souls.

Through the processes of breaking and mending, a more beautiful object is created once the fragments are sharded together once more and fixed with a wet gold lacquer. The term "join with gold" (Kintsugi) refers to this type of restoration. This is a very important lesson for current society to learn: repair, reuse, and refurbish, instead of wasting. It comes from a far-off era as the first Kintsugi was done in Japan in the XV century.
The actual query is, "Why should I give this any attention?"
Should I fix my tattered sweater with gold? or have my fridge fixed?

Naturally, unless you are King Midas, I do not advise you to fix anything with gold, but I do encourage you to reflect carefully on the idea of circularity. This term entered our lexicon in the previous century and, in the last ten years, has become a cliche. It is typically used in conjunction with other concepts like "bio" and "sustainability," but what does it mean? In the context of an economy or corporation, circularity refers to practices, procedures, and organisational culture that allow waste to become resources at a given point in its life.
Processes including maintenance, reuse, refurbishment, remanufacturing, recycling, and composting keep the material and products in circulation.
In today's economy, we engage in a linear process whereby we take raw materials from the Earth, turn them into products, and then discard the finished goods. Circularity prevents this from occurring. It's simple: rather than throwing away your old sweater and always buying new ones, you can fix it, use it again, or sell it to a market that will use it as second-hand clothing. Gold has nothing to do with it, as I mentioned before, but it's a goldmine worth practising for the environment.

Numerous companies and businesses share the same beliefs and have begun to adopt the circular economy in the textile industry:

This 2009 US startup made it easier and smarter to buy and sell used clothing. Sellers can submit gently used clothing for free, with any brand accepted, as it's a contemporary resale marketplace. To prepare the items for resale, ThredUp performs quality checks, itemisation, storage, and listing procedures. Customers can take advantage of an ever-changing selection of reasonably priced, high-quality clothing.

The Worn Wear program aims to prolong the wearable life of Patagonia clothing by mending and reusing it. This is the most efficient approach to lessen the textile industry's environmental impact. The company recycles the returned clothing in a closed-loop system even if it is in poor condition. This will eliminate the chance that landfills or incinerators may be used as end-of-life options.

The Renewal Workshop:
With offices in the Netherlands and its headquarters in Cascade Rocks, Oregon, the company offers revolutionary garment processing, a repair facility, and a software platform to deliver zero-waste, circular solutions for forward-thinking textile and clothing manufacturers. Renewal Workshop's brand partners can resell products that have been certified for reuse and prolong their usable life. The technology uses the defective batches as recycling feedstock. Since its founding, this company has drawn 20 brand partners and prevented around 110.000 pounds of cloth from ending up in landfills.

Worn Again Technologies:
A UK-based business that has created cutting-edge chemical recycling techniques to extract cellulose and polyester from fabrics that have reached the end of their useful lives. To develop a closed-loop textile system is their aim. When applied widely, this mindset will stop the exploitation of fossil fuels and the depletion of natural resources, allowing virgin quality polyester and cellulose to be extracted cleanly and to regenerate.
You won't believe the positive effects this cyclical culture has on the environment.
According to estimates, the US could have saved the following by switching to circular products in 2020:
- 3.6 MTs of CO2 equivalent to 66 million trees planted.
- 100 billion litres of water equivalent to 1.25 billion shovels.
- 200 million kilograms of waste equivalent to 18.700 full garbage trucks.

Furthermore, the textile industry alone is the exclusive focus of these estimates, accounting for a small portion of all human activity.

It is possible to apply the idea of circularity to anything and everything. Must we get a new smartphone, or do we want to? Consider purchasing a refurbished one. Want to throw away a pair of jeans that have a big hole in them? Instead, apply a patch or donate them for free so that they can be sold as used clothing.

It is a process that needs to begin with the people, and it is not at all difficult to embrace circularity. Similar to Japan, we will endeavour to find value in the broken and abandoned objects, attempting to rescue them and give them a second chance at life, since the circularity benefits not only the environment but also us. Who knows whether we can't improve human connections by taking better care of our environment and its products? We can learn so much more from scuffed trousers or an old sweater, so let's take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to join the circular universe. Remember the adage, "What goes around, comes around," as well!