9 environmental organizations empowering long-term change with the circular fashion economy
What is the circular fashion economy? A principle that became well-known after the Rana Plaza collapse, the term "circular fashion economy" involves closing the loop of textile and clothing production in the fashion industry. This means caring about the full life cycle of a garment — from material choice to end-of-life recycling and everything in between. It also means considering the social impact: the implications on garment workers and the communities affected by the fashion industry.
The global clothing industry encompasses all aspects of environmentalism — including 1% for the Planet’s four impact areas. Vulnerable communities deserve rights to nature and can be uplifted by regenerative farming practices. Responsible and thoughtful consumption of clothing leads to more just economies and increased job opportunities. By monitoring water pollution levels from textile dye, we can support resilient communities and conservation & restoration initiatives. Meet nine 1% for the Planet Environmental Partners creating long-term change in the circular fashion economy:
1. Fashion Takes Action
Fashion Takes Action (FTA) works directly with people on all ends of the clothing life cycle: garment workers, consumers, retailers, resellers and upcyclers. Their annual World Ethical Apparel Roundtable (WEAR) Conference gathers voices in the fashion industry to discuss everything from waste colonialism to greenwashing and what a utopian world would look like with a circular fashion economy.
DIRT charity takes a new approach and aims to turn fashion into a climate solution. Soil regeneration through biodynamic farming is at the core of DIRT and their mission for long-term change in the circular fashion economy. They ignite innovation early in the garment production process by inspiring designers to source raw materials from biodynamic farms. DIRT takes regeneration one step further to a social level and considers how farmers and surrounding communities are affected by the fashion industry. With a threefold approach, DIRT’s funds go towards biodynamic education, “fashion crops” and on-the-ground farmers. Their latest project addition is facilitating the creation of ten new Demeter certified standards for the fashion industry and are inviting brands to commit and champion the sourcing materials from regenerative farms.
3. New Order of Fashion
According to New Order of Fashion, the garment design phase dictates 80% of the piece’s environmental impact. They take a preventative outlook on the fashion economy by laying a circular groundwork for people across the supply chain. Based in the Netherlands, New Order of Fashion offers their LAB as a space to hold deadstock fabric, a meeting space for discussions and workshops and an exhibition to share creative output —and ultimately collaboration toward a circular fashion economy.
4. Drip by Drip
Drip by Drip tackles water issues in the textile and fashion industries. Garment production consumes a disproportionate amount of water, leading to water scarcity on a global scale. According to Drip by Drip, Kenya is one of the largest importers of second-hand clothing—most of which end up incinerated or in the Nairobi River, leaking toxins into local water sources. To support the circular fashion economy, Drip by Drip removes garment pollutants by manually cleaning local riverways and water sources. On a weekly basis, the organization removes 8,000 lbs of textile waste per week.
FABSCRAP ensures garments are diverted from the landfill by collecting, sorting and redistributing textiles. Their recycling program, offered to businesses in New York and Philadelphia, allows brands to give their textile waste a new life. After sorting unused textiles from the recycling program, FABSCRAP resells the material for designers looking to support the circular fashion economy.
6. Ellen MacArthur Foundation
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is built on a circular economy vision that bridges the gap between the government and the fashion industry. Their framework encourages clothes to be designed with renewable or recycled materials—and in turn, can last a lifetime. In the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s words, “Waste and pollution are designed out, and products and materials are kept in use.”
Redress reduces the fashion industry’s carbon, water and chemical footprint through education for designers and consumers. Their key program, the Redress Design Award, is the largest sustainable fashion design competition in the world. By inspiring participants to consider the complete garment life cycle, young designers learn to make thread, ink and fabric choices based on circular fashion economy principles. Award winners are prized with funds, machinery and educational tools to further develop their career in the circular fashion economy.
8. The OR Foundation
The OR Foundation envisions consumers to have a deeper relationship with fashion. With work at the crossroads of environmental justice, education and fashion development, The OR Foundation aims to create a justice-led circular fashion economy. They believe that without human rights, there cannot be justice for those affected by the fashion industry.
9. Textile Exchange
Textile Exchange’s mission is to help the fashion industry decrease its greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030. To achieve this, they focus on fiber and raw material production practices through the Climate+ pathway. Textile Exchange provides certifications, standards and industry benchmarking so businesses can manage their sourcing strategies.
You can support the circular fashion economy as a consumer or a designer—or anywhere in between. Whether you’re learning from our environmental partners or consuming more mindfully, the circular fashion economy is made for everybody. Join the movement and start your environmental giving journey today!