An Example of Innovative Sustainability

Innovative approaches to sustainability are a disruptive force in the apparel industry. Here’s an example of a company doing it right.

Business growth used to mean, simply, more money. Today, more money does not necessarily fix critical problems affecting our world. It is necessary to address critical junctures that affect our environment, our health, depletion of natural resources, overconsumption, high costs and the quality of products. The movement toward sustainability will never be solved by looking at one problem but a constant conscious effort around every aspect of our lives.

circular-economy-eu-commission_1What is a disruptor and why is this industry buzzword so crucial? Innovation and disruption are similar in that they are both makers and builders. Disruption takes a left turn by uprooting and changing how we think, behave, do business, learn and go about our day-to-day. Disruption displaces an existing market, industry, or technology and produces something new, more efficient and worthwhile. It is destructive in that it pushes out the old systems but at the same time creates new choices for consumers.

Companies like vigga.us, a Danish company, have taken on the challenge of apparel, specifically kidswear. The problem with the current system is with such high turnover from children outgrowing their clothes, buying kidswear is wastes money and resources.

The solution to the problem was to create high quality, sustainable, designer kidswear. The business model is based on a monthly subscription fee, the customer receives 20 pieces of designer clothes in his/her child’s current size. When the child’s clothes become too small, they are exchanged for a new package one size bigger. The returned clothes are treated and checked for flaws in an environmentally certified professional laundry, repackaged and sealed with a quality stamp. The clothes are then delivered to the next customer, and the circular concept is now in action. Test results show that the clothes can circulate 5-7 times.

The driving concept is not about circulating old used clothes but a whole new way of thinking about consumption. The goal of Vigga.Us is to have a proven case of a clever, sustainable way of consumption where resources are not exploited, consumers are happy and the people running the business are happy. Because sustainability is at its infantile stage, often, compromises are made. Either the cost is very high, or the quality and design are less than desirable. Vigga.us attempts to address all of these issues. Environmentally, it reduces the carbon footprint 80%-90%. The consumer saves up to 70% compared to conventional shopping. The company and board members are happy because sustainability and high quality are main drivers in the business model. The more sustainable the company becomes, the more money it earns.

Organizations like LAUNCH.org, established in 2009, help to bring pioneering ideas, like Vigga, closer to reality. LAUNCH is an online platform founded on the belief that the problems of today are too big to be solved by any one organization alone. LAUNCH was founded by NASA, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of State and NIKE, Inc. The dream is to showcase innovative approaches to sustainability by growing a community of the most disruptive thinkers and doers on the planet. This growing network helps recruit and select innovators and provides pro-bono support and mentorship.

To learn more about circular economies and sustainability go to LAUNCH.org, The Ellen McArthur Foundation, ISSP, and WRAP.

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