Mireille Geijsen was inspired nearly 10 years ago to found I-Did Slow Fashion (run today with Michiel Dekkers and a dedicated team), a social enterprise that really does something about textile waste in The Netherlands. By means of a circular business model (in contrast with the linear ‘take-make-consume-dispose’-model), used or unsold textile is processed into circular products where the raw material is used over and over again. Hence a ‘closed cycle’ approach to production the process. At the same time I-did contributes to inclusion of people distant to the Dutch labor market. Let’s see how I-did helps to close the cycle.
Over Esther Meijer-Sedney
This guest-blog is written by Esther Meijer-Sedney. After finishing an Academic Master in Corporate Communications from Radboud University in Nijmegen (the Netherlands, Class of 2008), and having worked in the field of Marketing and Communications in Spain and Curaçao, Esther decided to do a Professional Master in Sustainable Development and Corporate Responsibility at EOI Business School in Madrid.
Being born in Curaçao and raised in Bonaire, Esther finds herself often referring to her country, small (social) entrepreneurs, local products and it is her wish to contribute as much as possible to the development in the area of Sustainable living.
In 2014, Esther founded the GreenCaffeine blog. GreenCaffeine is the place to be to find easy to implement, doable tips on how to live a more green, sustainable, organic, healthy life. Esther shares some practical insights so you too can have positive impact on the world around you, through very simple daily decisions.
An economy in cycles has an impact on waste management. Reuse of materials result in less waste. One of the developments affecting the amount of textile waste is Fast Fashion: clothes we see on the catwalk get reproduced in high volumes, found in stores every 2 to 3 weeks. Our consumer demands are satisfied and we change the contents of our closets by wearing more (in volume) and at the same time wearing less (in matter of time).
When translated in numbers, the reality is shocking: a yearly total of 240 Million kg of textile is thrown away in the Netherlands. Only one third of this is recycled, processed and finally disappears between walls (as isolation material), under car hoods and is used as moving blankets… not visible at all.
“I-did has designed a new base material, a felt, produced form textile. Design products are made (to be seen by the way), through a circulair process. This process is in contrast with the linear process, which is about ‘taking, making and disposing’. Once the felt is made, it can be used over and over again.”
5 aspects of a circular process applied by I-did Slow Fashion
- All materials used are recyclable and upgradable. The felt can be used as raw material for the production of new products.
- A system is put in place with local partners for collecting textile (Sympany).
- Only locally sourced textile is used.
- I-did works with local partners when processing the textile to felt.
- I-did involves their stakeholders in their sustainability ambitions. Consumers are informed through campaigns and I-did works closely with businesses that share their sustainable mindset (Ikea, Heineken). This leads to:
- Consumers are becoming aware through their retail network.
- Businesses know something can be done with their textile waste, instead of ending in the waste pile.
- The story behind the product is being told. Business to Business and Business to Consumer.
“Besides having a circulair process, I-did serves a social purpose and focusses on empowerment of less fortunate people with a distance to the labour market. These people can consist of those that have been on welfare for a long time, or that have other conditions making it difficult for them to get a job.”
5 ways in which I-did Slow Fashion contributes to social inclusion and empowerment
- I-did participants have pride in their work. They can proudly say “I did it”. They have meaningful jobs.
- Training and development programs are in place. Every participant receives sewing lessons (besides product manufacturing). The diploma accredits their knowledge and opens doors for reintegration. Through education participants are triggered to discover hidden talents or competences.
- Continuous on-the-job training is provided through sewing of felt bags and accessories. Participants get job experience, and acquire working competences. A dedicated job coach helps connecting the dots between the participants and the labor market.
- Also social and emotional aspects can be covered. Everyone has a different story and struggle. Working sometimes is a fun way of escape, where all participants can be who they really are.
- The I-did participants are from a diverse background. There is no distinction in raise, age or gender.
I-did is a social enterprise that helps people to be part of a movement. A movement that contributes to awareness raising about keeping the environment (less textile waste) and the importance of inclusion in society. All efforts are geared to these two aspects. This is the strength of I-did: the combination of impact on planet and people.