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Brief Published: 29 Jul 2015

Reformation: Fashion Recycling Made Simple

LA-based eco-fashion brand Reformation has just launched a clothing recycling scheme that aims to make the process both effortless and social.

Working in partnership with US clothing recycler Community Recycling, Reformation includes a RefRecycling label with online purchases. Recipients simply refill the delivery boxes with their unwanted clothes, and apply the label. A door-to-door pick-up service collects the boxes free of charge and transports them to Community Recycling, which sorts them for reuse or recycling.

In addition, by logging into a personal dashboard on Reformation’s website and entering the tracking number on the RefRecycling label, consumers can see via an online map exactly which one of 50 countries their clothing has been sent to. The dashboard also details the amount of water, trees and emissions saved by individual consumers’ contributions, which is sharable on social media.

Thanks to the increased use of Lifecycle Analysis – a tool which helps measure a product’s environmental impact during its lifecycle – many retailers are focusing their energies on end-of-life schemes as a key element of their corporate responsibility strategy (see H&M Pioneers Recycling Scheme and British retailer Marks & Spencer’s Schwopping initiative). However, Reformation’s scheme stands out for its hyper-convenience (with the exception of Rag Bag, most schemes expect consumers to deposit unwanted clothing in-store) and social engagement.

Reformation has also launched the #OutfitofthePast campaign – a fun initiative that focuses on fashion and humour rather than worthy messaging to encourage consumer engagement with sustainability. Customers are asked to share an old photo of themselves wearing a questionable outfit in order to remind their friends of the unwanted clothes they still have that are ripe for recycling. The winner of the best outfit will receive $500 worth of Reformation vouchers.

By acting as agents of social change, brands are cultivating a sense of authentic brand commitment, which resonates with consumers. For more, see Brands Behaving Authentically: Pioneering Perspectives and Eco-Ethical-Sustainable

According to US trade association Smart, 85% of clothing ends up in landfill in the US each year. But while initiatives like those from Reformation help to divert some of this waste, such schemes are not without criticism. Much of the clothing that is sent for recycling, whether from charity shops or brands, ends up on sale in Africa, which has impacted negatively on local textile and clothing industries.

For more on recycling schemes, see Closing the Loop: Futureproofing and Learning from Sustainable Denim. For more on elevating recycled materials and eliminating waste from the production process, see Designing Out Waste: Sustainable Production