The sustainability elephant - Kathy Varol

The sustainability elephant

shop for clothes

Tom Szaky is founder and CEO of TerraCycle, a global leader in revolutionizing complex waste streams. TerraCycle has partnered with some of the world’s largest brands, retailers and manufacturers to recycle and repurpose items classified as “un-recyclable” in 21 countries. In 2019, TerraCycle launched Loop to eliminate single-use waste by partnering with producers on a reusable packaging loop system.

As Tom says in today’s Purpose and Profit episode, the elephant in the Sustainability room is that the only way to solve our waste problem is to stop consuming. A lot of people don’t want to hear that. Our global economy is built on consumption. We are, each and every one of us, consumers. But we do have the power to consume with more care, awareness, and intention.

Retail is the second-largest polluting industry in the world after oil and gas, and our passion for fast fashion is a major driver of that pollution. Every second of every day a dump truck’s worth of clothing winds up in landfill, 95% of which could be reused or recycled.

Imagine the impact we would collectively have if we changed how we shop for clothes.

Jenn Hyman and Jenny Fleiss have imagined a new way to shop for clothes—by creating a shared closet to pull outfits from. Rent the Runway allows you to rent designer clothing through memberships, pop up shops, and a partnership with Nordstrom. The rental model means people can still dress to impress without signaling to manufacturers that they need to overproduce just to fill orders. Instead signaling the importance of quality over quantity.. And yes, if you fall in love with something you can buy it—secondhand.

How would you reimagine shopping, for clothes or anything else?

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