Under the right conditions, biodegradable products and materials will naturally break down into smaller pieces and return to the earth, rather than remaining in landfill forever. Many products, including steel products and some conventional plastics will eventually break down over a span of hundreds of years, however they can leave toxic impact on the environment by leaving chemicals in the soil. To be truly sustainable, a biodegradable product must break down into naturally occurring minerals, that will blend back into the earth without damaging the soil.
According to Carbon Footprint, carbon-neutral is where the carbon emissions caused by a company or their manufacture process are “balanced out by funding an equivalent amount of carbon savings elsewhere in the world.”. An increasing number of brands are claiming to be carbon neutral, by implementing carbon reduction programmes and donating funds to renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
Unlike clothes which are purchased, worn and then sent to landfill once discarded, circular fashion promotes an on-going life cycle. This means that a once a piece is no longer wanted by its original buyer, it will be rented, swapped or sold on again as second-hand. Not only does this prevent textiles going to landfill, but it also means fewer newly-created pieces will be bought, and product of new garments will decrease over all.
Calculating cost-per-wear goes beyond the price tag to ascertain the true cost of a garment. Though a bargain price tag may entice shoppers, the cheap labour and poor quality materials that allow a brand to sell a t-shirt for £2, means that it may be ruined in the washing process and so only be wearable once or twice. However, a t-shirt with an initially higher investment that is made with organic cotton and a slower manufacturing process may least for years to come, making the cost-per-wear much lower than the initially cheaper alternative.
A closed loop system is one designed to create clothes that will continue to be used for as long as possible. Designed to avoid wasteful discarding of clothes, closed-loop manufacturing ensures that the clothes created are reusable or repairable. Closed-loop processes also recycle any waste back that has been created back into production systems, for example, trainers brand Converse now use surplus waste materials from creating their iconic hi-tops to create a new range of trainers, rather than sending these materials to landfill.
Though often used to describe products that do not use animal products, the true meaning of cruelty-free refers to items which have not been tested on animals. A cruelty free brand is one that has not conducted or commissioned any animal tests, and pledges not to do so in the future.