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Did you know we recycle just 1% of textiles manufactured each year?

I found this figure so shocking; I began this blog immediately. It's quick and dirty just like our clothing industry!

To be fair, I had heard the 1% figure before but what I was unaware of is that there are two centuries of expertise, equipment and tradition that already exists. Yes! For the last 200 years the area of Prato in Tuscany, Italy has been recycling clothing which is sourced globally and made up of multiple fabrics.

Thanks to a talk from Premiere Vision, an interview with Fabrizio Tesi, owner of Comistra, has given me new hope. To add some context Prato, this relatively small area, is home to a textile district. Here they handle 15% of 980,000 tonnes of textiles recycled each year. His company, Comistra, uses a combination of historical processes and machinery with the latest innovations and state of the art technology to produce beautiful, economically viable new fabrics.

By placing the emphasis on people, the artisans and consumers, above all else they are able to create products that satisfy all the criteria of eco-design. Currently this amounts to 5 million kg of textiles. If the circularity concept was adopted at sufficient scale by the manufacturing/fashion industry this could rise to 8-9 million kg with no extra investment. To me this is a no brainer!

With a deep understanding of the processes involved Fabrizio has done the modelling to show the impact on energy consumption - 76% reduction, water consumption - 89% reduction, 96% reduction in dangerous emissions into the atmosphere and 100% reduction in dyestuffs and other chemicals. I found these figures mindblowing.

This was just the beginning. None of this need be a catastrophic burden on economies or the livelihoods of the garment workers. In fact the impact on creativity in searching for new ways to work with eco-design and different kinds of textiles should reinvigorate both the manufacturing and fashion industries. Fabrizio has done the modelling - 2700% extra jobs globally at a time when this is really needed.

Of course this will not be possible overnight. Some responsibility lies with consumers using their voice, buying power and votes. Government implementing legislative processes and tax breaks to support these massive changes will be essential. The important issue is that change is not just possible, it is exciting and beneficial for us all.

I am now about to dive into the wondrous beauty that is London Fashion Week with renewed optimism. What you wear matters and your decision to make ethical conscious choices regarding the clothes you put on your body will change the world!

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