Reducing Waste Gets Competitive


As Fashion Week draws to another close and buyers from all over the world place their orders, its important to focus on the global impact this huge industry has on our planet’s resources.

The Global Change Initiative is a collective of minds from the worlds of academia, business, institutions and government brought together for an interactive summit to focus on sustainability, conscious consumerism, responsible thought leadership and social justice.  Endorsed by the United Nations Canada, GCI became the first global change forum that is results driven, not ideas focused.

They gave their first Global Change Award at a ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, this February.  The five winners were chosen by an expert jury and a global online voting public to share a grant of €1 million given by the H&M Conscious Foundation, a non-profit funded by H&M, the Sweden-based clothing manufacturer and store chain.

The Foundation’s mission is to drive long-lasting positive change and improve living conditions by investing in people, communities and innovations. They established the Global Change Award to take on one of the biggest challenges facing the fashion industry today; protect the earth’s natural resources, continue to create fashion for a growing population, reduce its impact on the environment and bring fashion closer to  a more circular economy.  This is the first such initiative in the industry.

This year’s winning teams were lead by:

1. Michael Hummel, Finland. Making waste-cotton new – conversion of waste-cotton into new textiles.

2. Akshay Sethi, U.S.A., The polyester digester – using microbes to recycle waste polyester.

The Polyester Digester – Polyester, produced from raw petroleum, is the world’s most common fibre for making textiles and clothes.  It is difficult to recycle waste polyester because it is often mixed with other fibres. The Polyester Digester uses unique microbes that eat polyester and break it down into its most basic substances. The raw material can then be sold to polyester manufacturers  to produce new textiles without a loss in quality.  This process also works on textiles where polyester and, for example, cotton is mixed as well as dyed polyester. The method is currently under development, partnering with a producer/manufacturer and an early-adopter brand are the next steps in starting a pilot project.

3. Ann Runnel, Estonia. An online market for textile leftovers – a marketplace for industrial upcycling of spill in production.

4. Enrica Arena, Italy.  100 percent citrus – creating new textile out of citrus juice production by-products.

5. Tjeerd Veenhoven, the Netherlands.  Growing textile fibre under water – utilizing algae to make renewable textile.

Inspired by the response from the global innovation community, and to spark impact beyond the five winners, the Foundation said that it has now launched the Global Change Award Network, a public digital space where teams and ideas can grow.

“When the application period closed, we sat with thousands of amazing ideas,” commented Karl-Johan Persson, board member of the H&M Conscious Foundation and CEO of H&M.  “So we decided to create the Global Change Award Network.  You can look at it as a matchmaking site, where innovators can present their ideas, get feedback, make contacts and investors can find the next big thing.  A digital greenhouse for innovative ideas,”

How You Can Help:

  • Keep your current clothing and textiles out of the landfill.
  • Make responsible fashion purchases by reading the labels.
  • Is that T shirt from Bangladesh really worth supporting what made it?
  • Stop buying fast fashion. Invest in timeless pieces that get passed on.
  • Join Akshay Sethi, submit your ideas to the Network and get happy!

Until next week,  akshay-sethi-and-moby-ahmed

Garbage Girl



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