In the old reserve better -Why recycled materials?

August 17, 2020

About a year ago, an idea that had been simmering for a longer time began to take shape. I strongly questioned my own consumption habits, what I did, and even my profession. I had just read a book by Greta Thunberg’s family Family and planet in crisis. The message of the book made me properly stop at the questions that had been circling in my mind. Greta rightly asks why are we not behaving as if we were in a crisis?

I realized that I was doing so unreasonably myself; I know the crisis is at hand here and now and yet I will continue largely as before. I had to admit that I was part of the problem myself and my development was very cosmetic. Continuing would have been just that: awareness of the crisis, but not behaving accordingly.

In the spiral of overconsumption and overproduction

I wondered then what would be the way in which continuing in the fashion industry could be sustainable. Or was there such a thing at all?

The biggest problem in my thoughts revolved around volume. A constant, growing number of garments that is just bursting into landfills, burning and ever-increasing environmental problems.

Fast-changing trends and short-term products have their own chapters. In addition to these, the world is constantly making tons of garments to fill budget deficits and maximize market position. Nearly all of them no one even ends up buying. 

However, even for these unnecessary garments, we use raw materials and resources, while causing an ecological disaster that has escalated from local handicaps to a global scale.

The fashion world and we humans in its vortex are in a situation where overconsumption and overproduction are feeding each other into a rising spiral.

Why make new material when it's old?

I came to the conclusion that one important step would be to blow the game across from the constant production of new material. Before producing any new garment material, we should strive to use existing ones. In other words: recycle. Avoid waste textiles prematurely and make efficient use of material that has already been produced. Question whether there is a real need for new material produced from the beginning, or whether a raw material or even a finished material could already exist?

As a designer, I understand that using a new material is much easier than using a recycled one. The production of a new material is also more straightforward, faster and more efficient in all its consumption than converting mixed and uneven recycled materials into a quality product. However, the current pace is so unsustainable that we need to learn to decouple the new from production and start designing more sustainable clothes and manufacturing methods.

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