"The fast-pace of our modern life makes it increasingly difficult to sustain the life of our garments even after producing them in the most environmentally friendly manner as possible. They end up in the garbage dumps quickly. For a long time, the industry has been greatly impacted by this use and disposal of clothing. A paper by WRAP suggests if consumers use their clothes for even nine months longer, they can reduce their footprint by around 20 to 30 percent."
The fast-pace of our modern life makes it increasingly difficult to sustain the life of our garments even after producing them in the most environmentally friendly manner as possible. They end up in the garbage dumps quickly. For a long time, the industry has been greatly impacted by this use and disposal of clothing. A paper by WRAP suggests if consumers use their clothes for even nine months longer, they can reduce their footprint by around 20 to 30 percent.
Applying this principle, outdoor manufacturers like Vaude, Patagonia, and Peak Performance are extending the life cycle of their products through their second-life initiatives.
Garments with life-prolonging measures
Peak Performance in collaboration with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) has developed the popular Higgs Index, which offers standardised measures for a more sustainable value chain. Companies are also incorporating life-prolonging measures into the planning of their garments. Accessories like zippers, cords, and push buttons are being offered as spare parts. Many also offer and promote a repair service. Vaude recently joined the online platform ifixit to develop repair instructions, while Patagonia repairs damaged clothes on site free of charge. It also explains the sustainable use of functional clothing in its workshops.
Product sharing becomes popular
Lately, ownership of clothes has lost value. Clothes today are shared, exchanged and rented depending on the function and occasion. The industry’s second life initiatives are building on this attitude. Companies now take back used clothing from their customers. They are recycled, resold, or donated to charitable associations.
Since October 2018, sporting goods retailer Decathlon has been offering an online platform for the resale of sporting goods by customers. At so-called Trocathlons, it is also possible to buy and sell used goods in the chain's stores similar to a flea market.
Vaude, in cooperation with eBay, has set up an online shop that consumers can use to sell their used Vaude products. The company is neither the operator of the platform, nor does it earn anything from it. The second-use website is one of many life-extending measures for products.
Burton’s sustainability program focuses on returns. The snowboard brand, which earlier focused on replacing damaged clothes, now aims to repair. The company has targeted a repair quota of 40 per cent by 2020.
The North Face offers returned goods and items with production defects in their own US online store – at reduced prices and with a one-year guarantee on wear and tear. James Rogers, Head of Sustainability at The North Face, sees resale as an important measure “to reduce the ecological footprint and open up new markets.
Recycling gains ground
When used clothing no longer meets the requirements for resale, all that remains is environmentally friendly disposal, upcycling, and recycling. Houdini sets up recycling boxes in its outlets and collects sorted-out polyester clothing. Customers can use the containers with a clear conscience. Houdini guarantees professional recycling.
Recently, recycling was limited to the outer fabric. Jack Wolfskin presented its Texapore Ecosphere jackets at ISPO Munich 2018. The outer fabric of these jackets, as well as the membrane and inner lining, are made of completely recycled material. In the winter of 18/19, shells, fleece, and hybrid models will also appear in fully recycled materials.