We discussed this topic with the Czech sustainable fashion expert and founder of SLOU Kamila Boudová. She takes sustainability into account in her everyday life and she shared some tips from her household and wardrobe with us.
We have to start with a couple of definitions. Let’s begin with the term linear economy. This system is responsible for today’s unsustainable production and the waste catastrophe, as it works on the principle of make - use - throw away. In other words, raw materials are transformed into products which are thrown away after usage, and so the whole process starts again. In contrast to this wasteful system, there are two official approaches that treat our resources more sustainably - circular economy and cradle to cradle.
Circular economy = system, in which waste is transformed into a source. It works on the principles of make - use - reuse/recycle - make again and so on.
Cradle to cradle = approach to the design of products that tries to keep materials in the circle and create no waste. It tries to imitate the processes in nature and it divides materials into two categories; biological and technical.
Kamila prefers the cradle to cradle (C2C) approach in her everyday life. Although this system is used more in design (“rethink the way we make things”), it can be applied for consumers, too (“rethink the way we buy things").
Here are the four basic principles:
1. Keep materials in the system.
Compost the biological materials, recycle the technical ones (if possible). 2. Do not mix materials.
If a product (e.g. a bottle) is made from two or more materials, which cannot be separated (e.g. plastic and silicone), then number 1 is impossible. Another example is clothes - most of them are made from mixed materials (cotton + polyester, viscose + cotton, etc.) nowadays. Try to buy products that are made from only one material or more materials that can be separated. 3. Use the things around you
We often buy something that we already have at home, but we just don't know it, because we have too many things. This is true in the case of raw materials' extraction, too - e.g. cobalt, a metal used in mobile phones. Most of the mining happens in Congo, where the impact on local people is quite terrible. Yet most of us have cobalt at home - in our old phones that we put in the drawer.
4. Be inspired by nature
"Rethink the way how we buy things.”
Based on these principles, the C2C system divides products into two categories - good and bad.
a) Biological product - product made from one or more biological materials. If they are organic, the product can be composted.
b) Composed product - product composed from various types of materials (biological and technical) that can be separated.
c) Technical product - product from just one technical material.
Product as a service - instead of buying a product and therefore being responsible for its disposal, you can rent it and then return it to the company. Business offering such service usually reuse or recycle the product.
A bad product is called the “frankenstein's product” in the C2C system. It is a product made from materials that cannot be separated and therefore the only option is to throw it away when its life is over. Unfortunately, such products make up to more than 90% of all products on the market.
Frankenstein's product is an object made from various materials that cannot be separated. It can't be recycled or composted and therefore the only option is to throw it away. Unfortunately, most products are frankenstein's products.
That was the theory. Now it’s up to us how do we use it in real life. Think when you go shopping next time. As consumers, we have a great power. If we clearly show our preferences for the C2C products, the producers will be forced to make more good products and less frankensteins.