There's a lot of work to do before the circular economy is the new normal. But there are many ways we can each play our part today. Here are some simple ways to be more circular, in thoughts, purchases and actions. Pick one, any, or all of them and find what works for you. Every action, conversation and choice has an impact.
It starts with us.
Materials + Impact
While circularity can include technical materials or synthetics (plastic, polyester et al.), our work at A.BCH is in biological circularity – that is, materials derived from, and that can return to, nature. We achieve this through strict raw material and design parameters, resulting in an entirely new approach to clothing design, selling and post-consumer responsibility.
We conduct streamlined lifecycle thinking and analysis to guide our decision making across design, processes and external communications and our goal is to eventually have third-party assessments performed as industry data sets improve in accuracy and scope.
Build your forever range.
Keep it Classic
Build a core capsule of pieces that you'll want to wear for a lifetime. Consider only buying a key piece or two each season and investing in quality and longevity over quantity. Read more about how to Build Your Sustainable Wardrobe here. If you have gaps in your capsule, consider swapping, borrowing, renting or thrifting before buying something brand new.
Live with Less
The average person buys 68 garments per year.
Swap "consumer" for "citizen"
Before purchasing anything, think first about whether it's really needed or will serve you positively beyond the dopamine hit of shopping. Consider if you'll keep and treasure it for 30 or more wears and what'll become of it when you no longer want or need it.
If you do, then consider if it's more appropriate to rent, swap or thrift as alternatives to buying something brand new.
Know the Origin
Find out the story behind your clothes.
Less impulse, more knowledge
When you do plan to buy something new, first ask about who made the clothes, where they were made and how. Brands should know this information and train their staff accordingly. Ask them whether their garment workers are paid a living wage and, if they can't give you a satisfactory answer, try instead to support brands who can. For laggard brands, let them know this is an important issue to you - one they have a responsibility to address.
Avoid fibre blends when you shop.
100% is best
When buying clothing, look for 100% cotton, linen or wool and avoid blends with synthetic materials. This will greatly increase the chance of the garment being able to be recycled at the end of its life.
Polyester is plastic.
Reduce, Reduce, Reduce
Reduce or eliminate plastic from your clothing by refusing synthetic fibres such as polyester, nylon, acrylic and elastane whenever feasible. These materials cause harm from extraction to disposal, and every load of washing with them will release thousands of micro-plastic fibres into our oceans. These are swallowed by fish and other sea animals and make their way into the food chain.
Environmental activism starts here.
Caring is Caring
The best and easiest way to participate in the circular economy of clothing, is to care for your garments properly. We're talking storage, wash frequency, laundry habits, attending to stains + using the right products. Improper washing or handling can lead a garment to deteriorate faster than intended.
We have a list of care guides aimed at providing general care information for fibres we know and love. With any A.BCH purchase, we'll also email you a detailed digital care guide for that specific product to keep on file forever.
It can be fun, creative, educational, and even therapeutic.
Mend Your Own
Here at A.BCH we love a good mend as much as we love a good yarn. For our customers, we offer free repairs for life on any A.BCH product for general wear and tear.
We also love giving tips + tricks to DIY repair via instagram and our community newsletter. We also host workshops + are happy to give recommendations for repair services near you.
You can build your own custom repair kit from our circular raw materials library here. Then settle in with a cuppa, needle and thread. And like any skill, practice makes perfect.
Keeping things in use is the best way to save the planet.
Keep it in Use
You can help extend the life of the your A.BCH garments (or any garments really) by caring for, repairing and laundering them well. After all that, it's important to recognise when it's time to say goodbye.
If a perfectly well looked after piece doesn't fit anymore or hasn't been worn much by you, it might be time to give it a second chance by re-selling it on a platform like The RealReal or Depop. You could also pass it along to someone in your life who you think might love it.
Alternatively, take good quality pieces to community clothes swaps, or organise a wardrobe swap with a friend. Of course you can always donate quality items to a reputable charity like Thread Together. Finally, reach out to the brand who made it in the first place and ask them if they have a re-sale platform - they might even give a reward for sending the item back to them.
Not down-cycling, not donating, recycling.
Equal or Higher Quality
Recycling, contrary to popular belief, is not donating your clothes to an op-shop. Nope. Recycling is a process (mechanical or chemical) that takes materials back into fibre state so they can be re-spun into yarns once again for a new purpose.
True recycling should maintain the same, if not better, quality and value of function into the next fibre use. While not widely available at a commercial scale, some companies ARE recycling now and will offer a recycling take back program – so look out for the trailblazers doing this (like us). If this isn't an option right now, look to businesses like Thread Together (donation) or Upparel (insulation down-cycling) for alternative solutions.
Living off the grid or busy at a climate rally? Try this afterlife option.
Break it Down Now
Did you know all A.BCH garments are biodegradable – at a minimum? All are also recyclable and some are even home compostable. However for the average garment, this option isn't feasible unless the brand has explicitly told you so and how to do it (rare).
While many fabrics might be biodegradable, (like low-impact dyed organic cottons, or linens) the chemicals and components added to make a piece of cloth into a wearable item, will often hinder its ability to biodegrade fully. Threads are made of plastic (this has been industry standard since the 60s) while buttons, labels, interlinings and other trims like elastics are riddled with plastic-y synthetics too. Many materials and garments are also treated with plastic prints, or non-degradable chemicals. If you have a tattered natural fibre garment and you're confident about what's gone into it, you could "decommission" it by cutting off any trims, seams and finishes (sequins, buttons etc) before burying the remaining materials in the home garden bed.
For your undyed A.BCH pieces that have seen better days.
For the Purest of Garments
Most clothes can't be composted but we've developed a range of A.BCH pieces that can be. There are also a few brands to look out for in the compostable clothing space, like The Very Good Bra.
For any A.BCH piece that is listed as "undyed", you have the option to home-compost it at the end of its useful life. While we'd still prefer you send any unwanted A.BCH garments back to us for assessment, sometimes it makes more sense to deal with it yourself. Simply follow our garment composting instructions to compost at home (provided when you purchase, or reach out for a reminder).
Being responsible and circular looks different for everyone.