JOOB's Zero Waste Commitment - Why We are Doing This and What it Means
The Apparel Industry - It's Carbon and Environmental Impact
Most people don't realize this, but the apparel industry is really bad for our environment. The apparel and footwear industries together account for more than 8 percent of global climate impact, greater than all international airline flights and maritime shipping trips combined (Source 1).
While the industry takes a lot of the blame, consumer shopping habits and their focus on wanting the latest/greatest items is also to blame. Awareness of the apparel industry's environmental harm is helping change some of this behavior. I recently viewed a great documentary from Stacey Dooley (Source 2) that highlights the impact of fashion and cotton in particular - along with the shopping attitudes of the typical consumer. Most consumers weren't aware of the impact their shopping habits had on the environment. Stacey went on to describe in detail an entire community that was devastated by the diversion of water used for cotton - to be used in apparel.
The Amount of Clothes that Goes to Landfill - Consumer Behavior a Key Driver of Waste
Up to 85% of clothes globally end up in landfill every year (Source 3). While we can partially blame the likes of Zara and H&M that spew out collections every few weeks - we as consumers need to take a look at our shopping habits. These retailers wouldn't exist if there wasn't demand for fast fashion. So let's look at the real cause of this. Do we really need to a new piece of clothing every other week? Do we want to support brands that aren't committed to environmental stewardship? Is there an alternative to throwing away clothes that are no longer wanted?
How many pants, shirts, coats, hats do you need? Ask yourself this question, look at your closet - are you part of the problem? Most likely the answer is yes. Everyone can improve and change their behavior.
A new way of shopping needs to emerge for apparel to be sustainable and have less of an impact on the environment. Online consignment shops like The Real Real and local thrift shops are gaining momentum as a place for consumers to go to donate clothes and to shop for used and repaired items. Consumers can speak with this action so big brands change how they produce. Do we really need these big brands forcing demand that really isn't required? I think a future of small committed brands that can balance profit, planet, and people - for all industries - will be the right way of doing business.
JOOB's Zero Waste Initiative
We've been working to provide products that are sustainable and climate neutral, and now we also want our products to be zero waste. JOOB would like to lead in the area of sustainability and environmental responsibility. We are launching our Zero Waste initiative with the goal of having zero JOOB clothes going to landfill - through initiatives of re-use, repair, recycle, and re-purpose.
So what does this mean? For JOOB's Zero Waste program it means the following:
- If you have a JOOB item that is ripped or damaged in some way, send it back to us and we'll repair it. We just ask you pay for shipping to us. We've connected with all partners and they are on board with repairing items. We'll fix it and send it back to you.
- If you are done with wearing a JOOB item, you can send it back to us, we'll have it cleaned and readied for sale at our Ann Arbor HQ and online on our RE-JOOB-INATE page (we know, bad pun).
- We are partnering with Goodwill to take items that may have a bit more wear and not a candidate for re-sale, and may re-purpose the item for further use. To date the organization has kept 166 million pounds of clothes from going into landfill (Source 4) and we will look to this partner to extend the life of JOOB products. We are also going to be reaching out to local thrift shops as we learn more about them and the potential for re-use and re-purpose.
- We'll also be asking customers to check with local thrift stores to donate JOOB clothes - and save on shipping back to our HQ. The goal is to have no item go to landfill, and a local thrift shop that commits to zero waste is a great option to consider.
- For our items that are 100% products, like our Poly Anna tees and our Superfine Merino Beanies, we are coordinating with our textile producers on a recycle program. For these items the process of returning the items and then re-using the material to make new threads is close to becoming a reality. We've reached out to these suppliers and will be the first to offer our returned product that can't be re-sold - so that it can be recycled. More to come on this initiative - we are super excited about this.
So that's the basics of our Zero Waste initiative - to enable re-use, re-pair, re-cycle, and re-purpose of all of our items so that our clothes don't hit the landfill. We'll be learning as we go and may adjust plans and add partners - so keep tuned. Any feedback on this is welcome - send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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