The sofa story

Is circularity feasible in the era of overproduction?

The sofa story is a personal anecdote we share. As a matter of fact, overproduction is devastating our planet. Since a large part of communication is about repair and reuse, we try to understand if circularity is feasible in the era of overproduction.

A couple of months ago we ordered a new sofa. When it was ready to be delivered, we called the seller to inform them we wanted to restore the old one and bring it somewhere else. They said they would take the measurements and let us know the cost.

The sofa: understanding quality

When they came to deliver the new sofa, we noticed some differences. The new one was much lighter. The old one was heavy. While the new one had no structure, the old one had a stable, solid body. Furthermore, the old one had a soft hand 100% cotton cover. For new sofa coverings, you mainly find polyester because cotton would be too expensive, so they say. In fact, the old one was a great quality sofa, which lasted about 25 years. We are doubtful the new one will last so long.

However, having the chance to check the internal structure quality, we confirmed the boy to bring it to their workshop and let us know the repair/restoration cost.

Repairing vs. buying a new one

Here comes the fun! When they tried to carry the old sofa downstairs to the ground floor, they realised it was too heavy. So they started disassembling it, but the boy in charge, all of a sudden, destroyed the sofa underneath his feet. “Yes, it was good quality but you better buy another new one. The repair cost would be too high.”

Obviously, he exclaimed that for two reasons:
First, he preferred to avoid the effort of carrying the heavy weight downstairs.
Second, he couldn’t understand, for real, the quality of what he had destroyed.

So, “buy a new one” is the easy solution in a consumerist society. But when sellers tell you there’s no difference in terms of quality from one item to the other, it’s not true.

It’s like you show us an archive Saint Laurent garment or a couture dress from your wardrobe, and we tell you to get rid of that and buy a new item! “You know, it’s cheaper than repairing the old one!”

That is a complete lack of understanding. Indeed, the sofa story represents the contemporary way of handling commerce and fostering a consumerist lifestyle. Also, whatever the category – fashion, furniture, technology, automobile – the trick doesn’t change. Industries do not stop their overproduction patterns, so repairing won’t work on a large scale, which we need in order to reduce our impact on the planet.

In the end, if those who sell products cannot distinguish quality, materials, and finishings, how can they even mention the option of repairing?

The sofa story Read More »

Secondhand and fashion resale

Circularity or marketing trick?

Driven by the popularity of secondhand, the fashion resale market is growing strongly, not only for luxury brands but mass-market brands, too.

“The explosion of cheap, mass-market brands over the last two decades has meant the secondhand market is now awash with polyester party dresses and synthetic sweaters.” via Business Of Fashion.

As a matter of fact, “I’m searching for a little something” – is still the NR 1 customers’ request. In other words, it means a low-priced, easy-to-purchase, easy-to-get-rid-of piece of clothing. Though we don’t sell that product, we often hear that request. That’s what people want! Sadly, the attractive price for clothes is now a burden we all pay. In fact, clothes end up in landfills, where trillions of “little things” are towering, polluting lands and seas. So, you may wonder, was it really so convenient?

Since our wardrobes are packed with clothing, reselling is a way to clean them out. Of course, donating, too, helps.

Secondhand and fashion resale: pros and cons

From the perspective of circularity, reselling represents a valuable opportunity. First, it prevents clothes from ending up in the garbage bin, giving them a longer life. Second, it makes luxury brands accessible.

But, in the case of fast fashion, there’s a big issue with reselling: mass-market brands use circularity to greenwash. Indeed, the fact that fast-fashion brands push people to resell their clothing is a marketing trick. They do it to sell more fast-fashion items. Reselling fast fashion to purchase more fast fashion is pure madness. Instead of limiting the problem, brands make it bigger by feeding the system.

Secondhand and fashion resale make sense for quality products, as clothing made to last deserves a second life, though brands should control production anyway. But it is dangerous with fast fashion. In fact, we’d better avoid producing new garbage at all, which would be the ultimate solution to fashion waste.

How do you make a positive impact? Don’t buy fast fashion. Buy less, far much less, buy better!

Secondhand and fashion resale Read More »

The land of waste

How the fashion industry dumps the problem into Africa

A land of waste: the unbelievable amount of discarded clothing dumped in Africa regularly. About three million pieces of clothing every year. Endless layers of textiles form mountains high of fashion waste polluting the land and waters. A terrifying sight which shows the destruction the western world perpetrates towards nature.

Fast-fashion waste recycling?

People think the clothes discarded into the recycling container (the yellow one here in Italy) are reused. Usually, charities are in charge of these garments. But fast fashion items have poor quality. So, in the end, large quantities can’t be resold and end up in a massive toxic blob in Africa.

Y2K: the overproduction era

Since 2000 global clothing production has doubled, but the quality is lower and lower. As we already addressed, brands accelerated the overproduction model. At the same time, they promoted overconsumption, kicking off the toxic cycle.
Brands overproduce up to 40% every season.

Waste shipped to Africa: the western solution!

In west Africa, everyday cargos arrive full of dirty clothes, and most get there in unwearable condition. In Ghana, a dumping ground for textiles, they call them the “dead white man’s clothes.” Moreover, Western garments are so cheap that local manufacturers can’t compete (source

The city of Accra has to find a place to dispose of 160 tons of textile waste every day! Liz Ricketts, a circular economy advocate, has spent about ten years documenting what happens in Ghana.
During the monsoon season, the heavy rains drag the textiles into the sea. Then they return to the shore buried in the sand.

In Accra, there’s no room left to throw away clothing.

We recommend to watch this video by ABC News:

Video by ABC News

If waste is the byproduct of a fashion industry based on an overproduction pattern, consumers play an active part, too. Indeed, they contribute to this environmental disaster with their consumption habits. Perhaps years ago, information was lacking, but now it’s everywhere! Everyone can understand the downside of cheap clothing.

There are people underpaid to make cheap clothes and, at the end of the cycle, people who make 4 dollars per day to collect fashion waste. Slaves indeed!

The western world’s solution was to ship the problem to Africa! But that has generated a land of waste, which we leave to the coming generations.

Fashion brands are responsible, but so we are if we don’t change consumption habits.

The land of waste Read More »

The conscious people movement

The conscious people movement, under the hashtag #formodernhumans, joins and inspires people who want to make a change. It starts from fashion but it goes beyond that. Because style tells who we are, and so does our lifestyle.

One way or the other

It’s about making a choice: one way or the other.
Our thoughtless and short-sighted actions provoked climate change. And now extreme weather is a serious threat. Therefore, the idea that everything is fine and we can take whatever the industries try to sell is dead. Fashion, food, technology, lifestyle, everything needs to be revised.

In fact, old-time patterns, economic models and human behaviours aren’t sustainable anymore.

The choice: niche vs mass market

And so, the choice is niche or mass market. Quality or quantity. Unique fashion and good design vs fast fashion. Timeless and reusable vs disposable. Conscious consumption vs overconsumption. Circularity vs waste. Also, ethical business in order to put an end to modern-day slavery. In other words, Doughnut Economics (which is a groundbreaking book by the economist Kate Raworth, a must-read!) vs capitalism and infinite growth.

The conscious people movement #formodernhumans

Conscious people make a clear and radical choice: less but better is the starting point.

We really care about this matter, so we made our choice.
Now make yours.

It’s one way or the other!

The conscious people movement Read More »