What if the fashion industry functioned like an ecosystem? In the way a plant grows with the help of sunlight, eventually decomposes back into soil and serves as a building block for future life, so too could our shirts, shorts and shoes.
That’s the premise of a new report by the nonprofit Biomimicry Institute, which asserts that it’s time to evolve the apparel industry to work with nature rather than against it.
Let’s review the go-to "butterfly diagram," which illustrates the basic material flows in a circular economy. On the left is a "biological cycle" in which organic matter such as food moves back into the system through processes such as composting and anaerobic digestion. On the right is a "technical cycle" in which everything else from petroleum to precious metals are reused, repaired or recycled and their value is infinitely retained. In theory.