Design for Disassembly - Circular Design

It’s estimated that around 80% of a product’s environmental impact is determined at the design stage. Everything from the choice of materials a product is made from, to how it’s constructed, to its durability, and where it ends its life. By unlocking circular thinking we can start to design for better outcomes from the beginning. One of our key work streams at Mindful Fashion is activating the circular economy for our clothing in Aotearoa through circular design. Last month we kickstarted this work with a circular design workshop for our members. Tara St James, an international sustainability specialist, shared global case studies and practical tools to unlock circular thinking. Concepts ranged from design innovation and production strategies to the importance of pre-competitive collaboration to create system-wide changes. The range of businesses in the room allowed for cross-pollination across roles, categories and businesses, important as it enables circular thinking to be introduced across every aspect of a business and the conditions for change to build.

A circular economy for the clothing and textiles industry is one where we design out waste and pollution, products and materials are kept in use, and nature is regenerated. It increases our connection to the clothes we make and buy. It also embeds recycling and repairing mindsets, and new retail models including leasing and sharing. There are many ways a business can start to become more circular, with introducing new design systems, material, and ethical sourcing policies, educating consumers on how to look after their clothes, keeping them for longer and responsible end-of-life solutions - so that the life cycle of a product is extended and has a lower environmental impact.