- As a model of production and consumption, the circular economy aims at reducing the extraction of raw materials and waste generation. It does this by keeping materials and products in the loop and extending their life cycle by promoting things like recycling, upcycling, reusing, repairing and renting.
Circularity is the opposite of the linear economy we live in, where things are produced, used and thrown away.
Read more: What Is a Circular Economy and Why Is it the Next Big Thing in Sustainability?
Its dictionary entry says it is “the theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically desirable.”
If we go deeper, consumerism is part of a social and economic line of thinking that believes growing production and consumption are the only ways to generate wealth and ensure prosperity.
On paper, producing and buying more does lead to the circulation of money, but it so in a disproportionate way.
Consumerism isn’t compatible with sustainability. From an environmental point of view, it’s based on overproduction and overconsumption, which contribute to resource depletion and waste generation.
Sometimes we use eco-friendly fashion as a synonym for sustainable fashion, but they’re not quite the same.
Eco-friendly fashion focuses on the environmental side of the fashion industry:
- using fabrics and materials with a lower environmental impact
- designing following zero waste techniques
- adhering to circularity (reusing or recycling materials, for example)
- not relying on synthetic fibers
Read more: What Is Eco-Friendly Fashion?
Ethical fashion looks at the social, human and animal aspects of the production and consumption of clothes.
The fashion industry is one of the main contributors to modern slavery. Generally, when we talk about ethical fashion, we’re talking about ensuring respect for worker and human rights throughout the entire supply chain.
There’s yet another growing side to ethical fashion that looks at animal rights. In this bucket, we have vegan and cruelty-free fashion.
Read more: What Is Ethical Fashion?
Fast fashion is a business model that has dominated the industry since the 1990s. While traditional fashion brands release an average of 4 seasons per year, fast fashion is infamous for pushing up to 52 yearly collections and hundreds of new weekly collections, which contributes to overconsumption and waste.
Fast fashion is characterized by the mass production of trendy and cheap clothing, which is made possible by the decentralization of manufacturing facilities, underpaid labor, and the use of cheap and low-quality textiles. It thrives on the creation of overconsumption-overproduction cycles promoted by passing trends.
Read more: Fast Fashion Facts You Need to Know – From the Shocking to the Sad
Greenwashing is a misleading marketing strategy where companies exaggerate or make up the sustainability attributes of a product or service.
This practice has become increasingly common now that a growing number of conscious consumers worldwide prefer buying ethical and eco-friendly products.
Read more: What Is Greenwashing and How to Avoid It
LCA (LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT)
In short, microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic (less than 5 millimetres).
Some microplastics are the result of larger pieces of plastic breaking down (including microfibers coming from synthetic clothing), and others are small pieces of plastic intentionally produced that way (including glitter, microbeads in exfoliating creams and microplastics used in the formulation of some cosmetics).
Only around 9% of all the plastic ever produced have been recycled, which is one of the factors adding to the trillions of microplastics existing around the world.