A Circular Clothing Economy and How You Can Contribute

5 min readJan 10, 2023


Image via Yukai Du

Fashion and clothing are ingrained parts of everyday life. However, the fast fashion industry is the second largest polluter. How can people make the move towards slower fashion while saving (and even making) money?

Contributing to a circular economy helps to create a system which benefits individuals, global economies, and the environment. The World Economic Forum lists a boosted economy, improved health and biodiversity as well as an increase of job opportunities as benefits derived from shifting to a circular economic model. As well, In a 2017 study done by Mortlet et al. it was estimated that “$460 billion could be added to clothing consumer pockets annually if they decided not to throw their clothing in the bins” This figure means that the average person could save a substantial amount simply by rewearing clothing and ensuring the articles sent to a textile recycler when they are no longer wearable. In short, you can feel good, look good and do good while saving money. For introducing new items to a closet, people can contribute to a circular economy by shopping second-hand both in-person and online, selling, lending, or renting out their unwanted pieces, and upcycling their worn down clothing. For tips on shopping for new sustainably produced clothing, click here.

In an ideal circular system, no viable material ends up in landfills as it is instead redirected to recycling facilities where the material is repurposed into other items and redistributed. This system has sustainability as a core value and guiding principle.

Image via The Voice of Fashion

Secondhand Shopping​

Secondhand clothes shopping is becoming more and more accessible with an influx of mobile applications, websites, and both chain and standalone physical stores opening up across the globe. These sites and stores all share the core principle of extending the life of clothing past a single buyer by reselling it rather than having it go to a landfill. Physical secondhand shops usually run either on donations of people or on an exchange system where the person giving the clothes to resell receives compensation in cash or store credit. This compensation factors in the condition of the clothing, the brand, style, and age.

This business style creates a circular model of selling, buying, and reselling which significantly lowers the impact on the environment by cutting down on production and transportation while lessening the number of articles that end up in a landfill. Online secondhand shopping platforms often allow users not only to shop secondhand styles but to sell their own pieces at chosen rates.


Selling, Loaning, or Renting Old Garments​

Websites and mobile applications are making it easier than ever to post items for sale or rent — for example, the ÀLA.HAUSSE app, for Android or iOS, lets users put items up for sale and rent with personally desired rates for rental and shipping across Canada or local pickup. You can also organize a clothing swap with friends, family, or coworkers for an offline exchange. Swap events can become an excellent opportunity to get to know each other more as memories attached to the clothing come up and the passing on of it to another person creates a connection.

A clothing swap is also an excellent gateway to bring sustainability and its values into the conversation and contribute to a broader circular economy by having more people interested in shopping second hand rather than continuing to buy into the fast fashion market.

Image via Vogue

Upcycling and Reusing​

The most sustainable style is created by wearing pieces you already own. Upcycling and reusing are great ways to give new life to clothing articles you are not quite ready to part with yet.

A dress can be crafted into a bodysuit with little sewing skill or tucked into trousers to create a new top without cutting into the fabric. A YouTube tutorial can be found here by hazelStreet, and a written one here by kateyblaire.com. Restyling clothes is an intuitive process and allows you to lean into and find your personal aesthetic.

Reusing pieces already in your closet contributes to a shift towards a slower fashion where your style is more consistent and ultimately it can be more reflective of who you are. If you find that these pieces don’t reflect your desired look during this rotation, donate them to a secondhand store or sell them on a resale app or site.

GIF via Alexander Neumann

Textile Recycling​

For articles that have reached their limit of repairs and reuse, you can bring them to your local textile recycling centre. Some programs, such as the one run by Diabetes Canada, also offer curbside pickup programs in some locations. In most cases, these depots are free for dropping off donations.

Textile recycling takes worn-down fabrics of any kind (synthetic, organic, mixed, etc.) and creates new items such as clothes, rags, filling for mattresses, and other articles. This process significantly reduces the amount of waste produced by the fashion industry by instead making it into usable materials. This creates a circular mode of production where materials are reused and repurposed instead of being made new each time. Style and sustainability can become synchronous when we contribute to a circular clothing economy by shopping secondhand, reselling used clothing, wearing items multiple times, and recycling unwearable articles.

À New Wave to Fashion. À New Way of Living.

Your First and Last Sustainable AI and Social Powered P2P/B2C Multifunctional Ecosystem (BUY/SELL/RENT/LEND/ SWAP/GIFT), for Me and You.

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Via ÀLA.HAUSSE’s Multi-functional and Multi-purposeful Fashion Ecosystem- BUY/SELL/RENT/LEND mobile application, INDIVIDUALS & brands ( BETA) are encouraged to REBUY, RESELL, REUSE and UP-CYCLE their personal “Clossets” aka Clothing Assets. Through this consumerism habit shift we slow down the urgency on fashion carbon footprint, aiding sustainability as a whole.

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À New Wave to Fashion, À New Way of Living. World’s First Sustainable AI-Powered P2P Multifunctional Fashion Ecosystem, for Me and You. BETA iOS Android SS21