Recently H&M announced a $1M prize for anyone who can help the fast fashion giant towards a more closed loop production cycle for textiles. The competition, part of H&M’s wider clothing recycling efforts, is welcome news given the company is one of the fashion industry’s biggest producers of waste. Launched by the company’s philanthropic arm, the H&M Conscious Foundation, the self proclaimed “global challenge award” is the biggest step the Swedish retailer has taken towards addressing its supply chain waste. The goal? To catalyze “green, truly groundbreaking ideas” to protect the planet’s natural resources by lowering fashion’s environmental burden. “No company, ‘fast fashion’ or not, can continue exactly like today,” H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson told Reuters on Tuesday in one of the most obvious and insincere comments ever spoken.
Irony aside, (given H&M’s model is based on creating cheap disposable clothes) the contest is a positive step and got us thinking about truly groundbreaking brands and products that could continue exactly like today, because they are way ahead on eliminating, reusing or repurposing waste in their production cycles.
Spanish brand Ecoalf is one of the most innovative fashion brands making their high performance jackets and outerwear from everything from recycled plastic water bottles and fishing nets pulled from the ocean to coffee grounds. Yes, coffee grounds!
Levi’s Water<less Denim and Waste<less Denim
Levi’s doesn’t get full credit here because both lines are relatively small, but for the past 5+ years, Levi’s has been working to minimize its environmental footprint by unveiling first waste<less denim made from plastic water bottles (which they have since discontinued) and water<less denim. Levi’s waterless denim uses on average ⅓ the water of typical denim production, while each pair of their eco-counterparts were made from 8 plastic water bottles. Now, if only they’d combine the two and come out with waterless jeans made from plastic water bottles. One can dream.
Unexploded land mines are a huge hazard that have devastated afflicted areas in Laos long after the Vietnam War tore through communities. Enter Article 22, an innovative brand that is changing the game and turning weapons of destruction into objects of hope and opportunity by uncovering, disarming and using unexploded land mines and turning them into beautiful jewelry.
You probably don’t stop to think about it, but what happens to all those firehoses once the fire departments decide it’s time to replace them? They used to go rot in landfills, but thanks to Elvis and Kresse, they are now turned into beautiful bags, backpacks and jewelry.
Worn or blown out rubber tires discarded and strewn across roadways and communities is a huge issue in South East Asia when you account for how many scooters and motorbikes there are. It’s an especially pressing problem in the Indonesian island of Bali. Fortunately Indosole is there to solve it by turning old tires into cool summer and beach shoes. Indosole is well on their way to their goal of creating sweet shoes from 1 million discarded tires.
It doesn’t take a genius to understand the enormous amount of packaging waste. Just place one order on Amazon. Instead of trying to figure out how to reduce waste, these two companies are working on how to eliminate it altogether:
Enzo, a men’s shirt company held a contest to reduce its packaging waste. The winner? Canadian applied arts student, Diana Castaneda who created a foldable box designed from a single sheet of cardboard. When the shirt is taken out, the box can be turned into a hanger thus eliminating waste and the need to buy new hangers. Win-win! And guess what? H&M is now exploring the concept!
Why reduce it if we can eliminate it? That was the thinking of MonoSol founder Scott Bening whose team has created non-toxic dissolvable waste that is already used to cover household goods from individually wrapped foods to Proctor and Gamble products.