Pineapples and Bananas: Yummy to Eat, And Now Fashionable to Wear

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CEO of retailer H&M (OCTMKTS: HNNMY), told Bloomberg in May. “We need to speed the shift toward waste-free models.”

H&M and other stores have helped to fuel the popularity of fast fashion—relatively inexpensive clothing that’s worn only a few times before being discarded. Due in part to the spread of fast fashion retailers, 20 new garments are manufactured per person each year, according to a 2017 World Resources Council report. The consulting firm McKinsey estimates that we are now buying 60 percent more clothing than we did in 2000 and using garments for half as long. Part of the reason also has to do with the convenience of e-commerce and ability to shop around for deals online, McKinsey says.

All of that consumption affects the environment. Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Simply washing all of that clothing releases the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles into the ocean every year.

The London-based foundation is focused on developing a “circular economy” in textiles, ones that promotes more reuse and recycling. Among the foundation’s retail partners include H&M, which itself manages a three-year-old grant program called the Global Change Awards, which are designed to support innovations that make the fashion industry more sustainable.

American designer Eileen Fisher has created a new clothing line, called Renew, which makes new merchandise out of old Eileen Fisher garments that the company buys back from customers for $5. The company says it has recycled about 800,000 products since 2009.

In the startup world, companies like Aday and Circular Systems are developing technologies to produce textiles made from more sustainable fibers and technique. In addition to working with manufacturers that use … Next Page »

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