Growing number of brands focusing on extending a product’s life
As the need for urgent action to tackle climate change becomes more intense by the day, awareness about how changing consumer behavior – in particular using products for a longer period of time – can make a significant contribution to the overall impact of clothes and other gear is beginning to increase.
This topic was the focus of a white paper study published last May. Titled ‘Textile sustainability from a consumer perspective’ and produced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA), it provides a review of research focusing on how the textile and clothing industry can use resources in a smarter way from a consumer perspective.
For instance, the paper outlines a study in Sweden completed last year¹ which found that using garments twice as many times in their original purchase form cuts the climate impact by almost 50%. This reduction is mainly due to fewer new garments needing to be produced.
The IVA paper also points out that according to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Swedes consume almost 14 kg of textiles per person per year, of which 10 kg consists of clothes (the paper notes that this is likely to be somewhat higher as it does not include personal importation, such as from online shopping).
However, Swedes throw away an average of 7.5 kg of textiles per person per year into unsorted household waste, which goes to incineration.² Random sample analysis carried out at the request of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency shows that more than half of this – around 60 percent – is in satisfactory condition and could be used further in its existing form.³
The paper also finds that reusing a garment in its existing condition “provides greater climate gains compared to fabric recycling because the recycling process requires the resources to go through the energy-intensive production chain again.” It notes that according to the EU waste hierarchy, items should always be reused before they go to material recycling and energy recovery.
“To achieve a more resource-smart textile sector, garments that already exist must have a longer active life in their original form”
The paper concludes that “extending the active life of our clothes should be the goal with the highest priority.” And in its final recommendations, it states: “Today none of the garments in our wardrobe are used enough before we dispose of them. To achieve a more resource-smart textile sector, garments that already exist must have a longer active life in their original form. No other single action – such as more sustainably produced textile fibres or better recycling methods – has the potential to reduce the impact of Swedish clothing consumption as much as doubling the life of the clothes we already own.”
Staying fresh for longer
Staying fresh for longer
As brands face growing pressure to find ways to extend the life of their products, technologies from the Swedish firm Polygiene are helping them make this happen. That’s because, by controlling odor in textiles, they allow us to significantly reduce the number of times we wash a product – to, quite simply, wear more and wash less.
In all, more than 300 global premium brands have now chosen to use Polygiene technology with their products, helping establish Polygiene as the leading stays fresh ingredient brand. And, even more importantly, the company’s technologies are helping to fundamentally change the way that we view our garments and other gear – from fast consumables to durables.
For instance, the Dutch brand, Kings of Indigo uses Polygiene BioStatic™ Stays Fresh technology on a number of its products. This is an antimicrobial technology that stops the odor at the source by inhibiting the growth of odor-causing bacteria created from sweat, permanently.
The Panama fabric in Kings of Indigo’s Daria chino is colored with natural indigo dye and will fade a little over time. However, because it is treated with Polygiene Stays Fresh® technology, the consumer doesn’t have to wash the item as often as standard garments, so the deep indigo color will stay on for longer, extending the life of the product.
A growing number of brands are also using Polygiene OdorCrunch™ Stays Fresh technology, a natural product that consists of the main ingredient in sand (silica). Odor molecules are efficiently captured and permanently eliminated – keeping the product fresh, reducing the need to wash, and therefore making it last longer.
Danish brand Mos Mosh, whose collections can be found in more than 2,000 retail stores, is one of the latest companies to adopt this technology. It began a collaboration with Polygiene this year and has begun the partnership with its best-selling shirts, including its Marco Crunch jersey shirt. The brand says, “this soft cotton shirt is perfect for a man on the run,” with the Polygiene OdorCrunch™ technology “leaving your shirt fresh after each wear.”
Polygiene’s newest technology, Polygiene ViralOff™, also helps enhance a brand’s sustainability. This technology is an antimicrobial treatment that reduces over 99% of microbes in a treated material or product*. It was introduced in 2020 in response to the growing demand for antimicrobial solutions sparked by COVID-19.
Polygiene ViralOff enhances the hygiene and protection qualities of a number of products – and just like the other Polygiene technologies, extends a product’s life. It can be used with PPE, scrubs and other equipment used by medical staff, as well as for the public, where the functionality is relevant, such as in gloves and facemasks, as well as bedsheets and even furniture in public spaces and mass transportation.
Demand for durability
Demand for durability
As well as searching for more antimicrobial products, surveys indicate that the desire among consumers to purchase items which last longer is growing all the time and has increased due to COVID-19 and has made us re-think our impact on the environment.
“No other single action – such as more sustainably produced textile fibers or better recycling methods – has the potential to reduce the impact of Swedish clothing consumption as much as doubling the life of the clothes we already own”
For instance, in a poll carried out by McKinsey & Company in April 2020, two-thirds of surveyed consumers said it has become even more important to limit impacts on climate change, while 88% of respondents believed more attention should be paid to reducing pollution.
The poll of more than 2,000 UK and German consumers also found that as a result of the pandemic, 65% of respondents were planning to purchase more durable fashion items, with 71% planning to keep the items they already have for longer. Additionally, 57% of respondents said they were willing to repair items to prolong usage.
As the textile and clothing industry looks to a post-Covid world, it is aiming to adapt to all these new realities. Polygiene is aiming to support each brand and manufacturer it works with every step of the way as they aim to extend the life of their products, minimize textile waste and progress towards greater sustainability.
As well as using a three-part approach combining technical, marketing, and commercial support, recent initiatives also include joining the ZDHC Foundation’s (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) Roadmap to Zero program alongside Polygiene’s partners.
With growing evidence underlining the importance of the choices made by consumers and the impact of their behaviors, Polygiene’s technologies, and its collaborations with its partners, help provide solutions to many of these changing needs.