Circular Economy vs. Linear Economy

Written by Jo Lorenz 

The fashion industry has a problem. It’s called sustainability.

Cumulatively, the fashion industry produces approximately 20 percent of all global water waste. Additionally, 85 percent of textiles end up in landfills or are incinerated, when most of these materials could be reused.

Yet over the last few years, the fashion industry and its consumers have finally started focusing more on the humongous problem of sustainability. Consequently, a big (and necessary!) spotlight has been cast on the circular economy as an alternative to the old linear economy that the fashion industry has exhausted for so long.


Source: FinalStraw

A circular economy feeds back into its own development and thus closes the loop. It is a regenerative economic model aimed at minimising waste and maximising resources. This sustainable economic approach uses a ‘repair, reuse, recycle’ model of production - which is in stark contrast to the traditional linear model of ‘take, make, dispose’.

The R Collective’s collections are VIP players in the circular economy. The R Collective rescues luxury excess materials and reuses these materials by upcycling them into beautiful new collections. Thus ‘textile waste’ otherwise nearing its end of life in the linear cycle that would typically go to landfill or incineration remains in the fashion loop through our circular fashion design strategies. 


Photo by Jo Lorenz featuring the Dalston Trench made from Upcycled Wool.

While a circular economy is mainly implemented via governments, businesses and social entrepreneurs, we all have a role to play. The businesses we support and the choices we make all cast a vote for the future we want. 


How to contribute to a circular economy, as a consumer:

1) Don’t buy more than you need!

Tempted to buy that ‘I kinda like it’ sales item? Please don’t. According to environmental statistics website ‘The World Counts’*, every two hours we collectively throw out enough rubbish to fill the world’s largest container ship. This equates to 12 container ships every single day, and 4380 container ships in one year. Yikes. 

Most of this unbelievable and unnecessary waste ends up in landfills or, worse still, is sent to an incinerator where it burns and thus turns into the world’s largest source of dioxins (i.e. one of the planet’s most toxic compounds).1 Every year, 92 million tons of industry textile waste is generated.  Every second, one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or incinerated.2

Every The R Collective piece is created to solve this by rescuing high calibre unwanted fabrics, designing out waste and therefore, minimising our- and your- carbon footprint. 

So please people, put down the crappy sales item and exercise some constraint. Do your part, be conscious and aware when it comes to your consumerism, and encourage others to be the same! You’ll feel better for it!


2) Buy local food, where possible


Eating locally means more money stays within your community. In fact, there is research to suggest that every dollar spent generates twice as much income for the local economy!


Usually sold within approx 24 hours of being picked, local produce is fresher and thus way more tasty and healthy (supermarket produce may have been in storage for days or weeks.

Source: Green Queen 

Green and pure

Eating locally reduces your carbon footprint as your food doesn’t have to travel to get to you - it also means the food has come in contact with less hands and therefore less opportunity to be tampered with.


Buying local food keeps you in touch with the seasons, as not all produce is available all year round. This not only means that your cooking prowess gets the chance to get jiggy, yet also means the food itself will actually be less expensive as there’s an abundance of it growing when you buy it.


When we buy local foods, we are supporting our local farmers. This gives those farmers incentive to keep on trucking and stay undeveloped.


The more that land is cultivated organically lessens the need for chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilisers - which increases biodiversity in our local ecosystem!

Feel good factor

And finally, knowing that your food has a lovely little backstory makes eating it even more delightful!


3) Support circular economy businesses - and close the loop!

There are a growing number of innovative, new companies out there that have crafted their entire business around feeding back into a circular economy and closing the loop. Adopting a circular economy approach enables organisations to move towards business models that allow goods to be designed and produced for extended use, disassembly, reuse and recycling from the outset. 

Given the rise in popularity of the circular economy, it is no longer the province of just multinational corporations, yet one which all organisations need to consider for future resilience and competitive advantage. And finally, one which all #ConsciousCitizens needs to adapt in order to maintain sustainable consumer habits. 




* ‘The World Counts’ collates its stats from a large number of organisations, research institutions and news services.

1Global Fashion Agenda & The Boston Consulting Group 2017.

2 Ellen Macarthur Foundation (2017), A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion's Future.

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