Circular Economy and Fashion Recap


 “For fashion, a circular economy means ensuring that products (apparel, footwear, accessories) are used more, are made to be made again, and are made from safe and recycled or renewable inputs”. - Excerpt taken from Vision for a circular economy for fashion - Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2018)



This Sustainable Cleveland webinar introduced the audience to the circular economy and fashion/textiles and reviewed the complexities of the market, some of the solutions, and examples being put in place nationally and locally. We also explored actions that every individual can take to make their own shopping habits and closets more circular.


*Please note: The highlighted green text are links to various pages and resources, you must click the link to view the page.


Circular Cleveland





General Resources for the Circular Economy and Fashion





Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)




Textile Processing and Recycling



  • SMART (Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles)


Business Models






Kent State University-Textile Reuse and Recycling Program





New and Exciting


Additional Resources:


Book: Unraveled: The Life and Death of a Garment (2021)

Video: Unwoven: Phasing Plastic out of Fashion

Challenge: Microfiber Innovation Challenge

Movie: The True Cost Movie




What would be a good educational route to pursue a career in this field?


There are several universities/colleges close by that offer programs in fashion/design.

Just a couple examples are:


As a fashion design student are there certain practices that I can uphold now and in the future that will reduce my carbon footprint?


Here were suggestions from the webinar for everyone:

  • Talk with your purchasing $$$
  • Buy second hand and/or rent
  • Repair old/damaged clothes
  • Learn more @ the industry
  • Learn more @ specific brands
  • Write letters to brands
  • Use your skills to contribute to solutions


What is the most sustainable fabric, if one is required to buy new? Are there any other guidelines you would recommend to look for when buying new?


You will have to do your homework and check out the brand and their sustainability practices before purchasing an item, e.g. Patagonia.  Another option would be to choose natural fibers vs. synthetic. However, natural fibers may not always be a sustainable option, e.g. 100% cotton may have been grown using herbicides and pesticides.  Until each piece of clothing has a digital passport associated with it, we will not be certain of its sustainability.  Again, best to buy second-hand, rent, or repair old and damaged clothes already in your closet.


What can be done with garments not fit for donation? Where to give clothing, bedding, etc. that is no longer wearable, to be reprocessed into another product, i.e. recycled?


Goodwill and Salvation Army will accept unwearable garments and they will be used as rags.


How can we push bigger companies like Walmart/Target/Amazon to change their practices to become more sustainable?


Speak your mind with your purchasing dollars. You can also write to them to let them what your values are and tell them where you are spending your money and why you aren’t spending your money with them.


What can we do as residents or what can the City of Cleveland do through policies to reduce the environmental burden of fast fashion, make sure that garment workers are paid fair wages, and still preserve affordable clothes for low-income folks who can't just switch to luxury sustainable brands?


Again talk with your purchasing dollars and don’t reward fast fashions but focus your purchases on slow fashion and durable, high-quality clothing.  Also, educate yourself about specific brands before you purchase their product and


How can you ensure that old clothes donated clothes aren't sent to other countries only to be burned after being donated.


Check out specific websites, for instance, PlanetAid says that they send clothing overseas.

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  • Brittany Montgomery