Look at the shirt you’re wearing now.
What do you think happened with the material cut to make that shirt? Despite likely making every effort to be efficient in how much material is used, there is always extra. In some cases, one factory can produce 60,000 pounds of textile waste a week. Currently, nearly all of that goes to landfill. Or it goes overseas, dumped into communities of “need” that then devalues the market for domestic, locally made clothing there. In both cases, there’s an additional carbon cost, with transportation to their destination.
What’s a way to address this? Yes, buying organic is a solid step forward, reducing chemical inputs. And yet, did you know that one pair of jeans takes about 1800 gallons of water to manufacture?
What can you do? Aside from going naked, there’s Looptworks.
Looptworks takes pre-consumer excess materials from manufacturers, creating a range of clothing, from jackets to skirts, t-shirts to hoodies. By it’s very nature each piece will be a limited edition, as it will come from a finite supply obtained from specific manufacturing runs. Unlike large companies which have to design their line months, even a year in advance to ensure sufficient quantities of material, Looptworks clothing will come from what’s being made right now, constantly changing.
While for some consumers and stores, having a frequently shifting offering may not be of interest, for many this will I imagine be welcomed and encouraged, a sustainable way to keep up with current trends without the usual accompanying energy and resources.
When you combine people’s desire for clothing that they can feel is a unique expression of their taste, and give it exceptional, story worthy green credentials, this has the makings of a very promising startup. Looptworks officially opens September 9th, selling exclusively from their own store to begin with.
Questions that come to mind are, how will Looptworks price their clothing? A typical path is selling to smaller boutiques, for a high markup, presuming a certain percentage will be willing to pay the “green tax.” From their outreach emphasizing the limited edition aspect, one would think they’re likely going down that route. A mistake, in my mind, minimizing both their market and their impact.
A wiser, more sustainable path (financially and environmentally) is to go the route Terracycle has: Equal or lesser prices on products, sold broadly, reaching beyond the dark green people. With a literally limited supply of material and the fickleness of the clothing consumer, perceived value, etc., this may not be possible, but something I’d encourage Looptworks and any other green focused consumer company to investigate.
It’s time to make a deep and broad impact, beyond the usual suspects.
Readers: What other ubiquitous, unnoticed by the public sources of waste can you see being dealt with via consumer channels effectively? Who’s doing it now? What should we be looking to do? Comment below.
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations around, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media. Who he has and wants to work with includes consumer, media, clean tech, NGOs, social ventures, and museums.