Refill, reduce, recycle and reuse. Here are five exciting eco-friendly product designs and innovations addressing textile waste and single-use plastic.
Did you know that the largest market for plastics today is packaging materials? This trash now accounts for nearly half of all plastic waste generated globally, most of which never gets recycled.
From plastic bottles, shopping bags, milk and drink cartons and bottles, not to mention plastic wrapped fruit and vegetables (ubiquitous in Asia) and food containers, plastic is everywhere and it is an ecological ticking timebomb. It's in our oceans, our soil, air and it even makes its way into our food in the form of microplastics.
Of course, as far as waste goes, the fashion industry gets a notable mention as well. An estimated 92 million tons of textile waste is created annually from the fashion industry. Shockingly, every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned globally. In Hong Kong alone an average of 110,000 tonnes of disposed garments are collected each year, which equals to a rate of 1,400 t-shirts per minute.
The reality is that dealing with waste is an ongoing battle—for both consumers and companies— and a challenge for industries like fashion which survive and thrive off encouraging constant consumption. But, more and more companies are also stepping up to the challenge to address our waste problem, and change the way we consume.
Here are five exciting eco-friendly innovations addressing textile waste and plastic, shifting the focus to refillable, recyclable and reusable materials and products. Viva la refillution!
Eco-friendly food delivery packaging by PriestmanGoode
Due to Covid-19, this year has seen single-use plastic packaging on the front-lines with a vengeance, especially in the food industry. Lockdowns and restrictions have had many relying on food delivery services, and with that comes plastic containers. London-based design studio, PriestmanGoode has come up with an elegant solution to takeaway packaging with a range of bento-style food containers and a bag for takeaway deliveries based on circular design principles. They use bioplastic for their reusable containers, made from by-products from the cacao industry, as well as piñatex, an algae-based cling wrap, and Mycellium for insulation. The idea behind this new concept is that customers would pay a small fee for the packaging upon ordering the food, which would be reimbursed on their next delivery, when the containers are returned to the delivery service provider. The containers would then be washed by the next restaurant/food provider before being used again.
Household cleaning products have also been much in demand this year as we all scrub and wipe and disinfect every surface in sight. That means a lot of single use plastic bottles. UK startup Spruce have eliminated the need for single-use plastic cleaning bottles with their pretty pastel-coloured aluminium bottles of cleaning products that can be purchased once and reused endlessly with plastic-free dehydrated refills. They look good on your shelf and even better, there’s no plastic going to landfill. Refills arrive in sachets made of compostable material. Spruce's formulas are free of parabens, ammonia, chlorine and palm oil. Instead, the formula contains sodium coco-sulphate – the fatty acid from coconut oil – and essential oils such as eucalyptus and geranium leaf. Pledge and preorder through their Kickstarter campaign.
Dye-free and durable, Cyclon sneakers, from Swiss shoe brand On Running, are made a from a single cut of fabric so that the design is zero waste. These are technical performance sneakers made with running in mind, whether it’s training or on the road racing. They’re super light, weighing less than 200 grams, and they’re 100% recyclable and manufactured from castor beans. But you can’t own them. That’s right. These sneakers aren’t yours forever because, well, sneakers don’t last forever. Instead, the monthly subscription-based shoe service will take your shoes back after you’re done with them and they’ll recycle them. First shoes drop in 2021 so sign up to be the first to take them for a run.
A container sized machine, Looop transforms your old garments into new pieces. It cleans and shreds pieces into base fibres before spinning them into new yarn. Using no water and no chemicals, it has lower environmental impact than standard garment production, and the entire process takes about five hours. The system is only available in its Stockholm store, where H&M is based. Although the system spreads awareness about clothing waste and recycling, currently it lacks the scale to make any significant impact. However, H&M aims to recycle and sustainably source all of its material by 2030, along with the ambitious goal of becoming climate positive by 2040.
Looking for better sustainable packaging? Introducing you to some real dirt bags. The Better Packaging Co. from New Zealand make 100% compostable and non-toxic postage bags and packaging from corn starch. They have a range of postal, padded and courier bags, garment bags, cling wrap, bubble wrap, as well as disposable gloves, that can be composted at home at the end of their lifecycle. Put your food scraps in there, take it to your garden compost and it’ll be gone in 90 days. No chemicals and it's healthy for the soil too.