REcap sustainable textile peer learning sessions
The recently concluded peer learning sessions on Sustainable Textile proved to be a resounding success. Over the course of two sessions, participants active and involved in the textile industry (including retailers, manufacturers, and esteemed experts) engaged in vibrant discussions on the topics of sustainable textile and microplastics in textile. They exchanged valuable insights and committed to continue discussions and advance sustainability within the textile industry.
The peer learning sessions were organised by a team of young professionals who participate in the UN Global Compact NL’s Young Professionals Program (YPP). The sessions were attended by representatives from various companies and organisations, such as Hema, Zeeman, Fashion for Good, TU Delft, Goldbergh.
In the first session, on 26th of October 2023, Stijntje Jaspers, co-founder and Program Director of Fibershed Nederland, delivered an inspiring and thought-provoking discussion. Her presentation provided valuable insights on:
- The human and environmental effects of unsustainable practices in the textile industry.
- The need for producers and designers to think responsibly about the entire textile supply chain (fibre production, clothing production, consumer use and after use).
- The importance of rethinking the fibre production process towards a BIO-circular economy (with renewable bio-based resources using regenerative agriculture).
- The option of using sustainable fibre types such as plant-based cellulose or animal-based protein fibres.
- The need for a comprehensive Product Environment Footprint (PEF).
- The inspiring books and movies that could guide professionals in the transition to a sustainable textile industry.
Following the presentation, the participants discussed common myths and misconceptions in the sustainable textile industry relating to branding, microplastics, end-of-life & returns, and labour abuse. They also discussed options for shifting business and consumer mindsets (such as Impact-Weighted Accounts Framework, leasing clothes, investing in renewable products, not offering sales/free products etc.)
In the second session, on 14th of December 2023, the keynote speaker Jeroen Dagevos delivered an impactful discussion on microplastics in the textile industry, leaving a lasting impression on the attendees. Jeroen is the Head of Programs at Plastic Soup Foundation with extensive expertise on the topic of microplastics. His presentation provided valuable insights in:
- The trend in textile material production for the near future if sustainable solutions are not implemented.
- The possible solutions for consumers to decrease the release of microplastics during washing (e.g. Cora Ball & Guppy Friend).
- The health effects of exposure to microplastics (on lungs).
- The need for a system change through industry collaboration and influencing public opinion. – Active campaigns can guide consumer behaviour (Plastic Fashion Campaign).
- Thinking of supply chain solutions can make the change faster, such as design for recycling, production with less microplastics, end of life solutions, financial incentives etc.
Following the presentation, attendees voiced their thoughts on how to tackle the problem of microplastics via legislation and consumer education.
In summary, there is definitely momentum for professionals in the textile industry to come together, collaborate and share knowledge within the sector. The peer learning sessions delivered impactful discussions. The expertise of the keynote speakers, their engaging presentation style, and their ability to connect with attendees contributed significantly to the overall success of the sessions.
The peer learning sessions on Sustainable Textile were organised as part of the Young Professionals Program of UN Global Compact NL. With more than 20,000 participating companies and 62 Local Networks covering 67 countries, the UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. Through training, collaborative learning, networking opportunities and reporting, companies that join the UN Global Compact are supported to accelerate on their sustainability journey. Interested in joining the UN Global Compact? Reach out to Participant Engagement Officer, Linde Reus, at firstname.lastname@example.org