The way forward for WOOLUME

Summary

This note looks at knowledge transference between a country of high wool utilisation (Norway) and a country of low wool utilisation (Poland). The findings that are presented here, are collected through semi-structured interviews, via Zoom, in person and also with one written response. All interviewees were project partners. Economics and scale are important themes, especially for moving forward with better use of local wool. As identified in other projects, things need to happen in the right order and there must be an economic fundament that ensures a professionalism and not that what one does is done on a hobby basis. The skills gap is an important issue if there is to be a future for the wool industry in Europe, and this must be addressed at national and EU level, this is not something a project or industry can fix on their own.

Click here to read full report.

The Impact of Modes of Acquisition on Clothing Lifetimes

Forfattere: Kirsi Laitala, Ingun Grimstad Klepp og Lisbeth Løvbak Berg

Abstract:

Reducing the environmental impact of clothing is dependent on a reduction of the produced volume. This chapter discusses how mode and volumes of acquisition impact the lifetimes of clothing. Based on our scoping review and reanalysis of international wardrobe audit data, we find that the number of
garments that are acquired has most impact, making clothing utilization an important concept. Secondhand garments are used fewer times than new items, and gifts less than self-chosen items. Self-made clothing was worn less than tailored garments, showing that product personalisation can both shorten
and increase lifetimes. Slowing down the rate of acquisition and increasing the lifetime with the first user should be the focus of policy development.

To read the full chapter, contact Kirsi Laitala kirsil@oslomet.no or the publisher of Recycling and Lifetime Management in the Textile and Fashion Sector.

Regulating Fast Fashion out of Fashion

Authors: Ingun Grimstad Klepp and Kerli Kant Hvass

Abstract

Among sustainable fashion and textile themes, product durability has recently come into focus within EU policy making. The dominant understanding is that increased textile lifespan will reduce environmental impacts, but this intrinsic link is not supported by research. The volume of clothing produced poses the greatest environmental burdens. Increased clothes availability leads to longer lifespan due to reduced utilization. To reduce the environmental impact of increased textile volumes measures should be expanded to encompass not only product design, life-prolonging, and end-of-life strategies, but also the volume of products to market. This concept paper contributes to the debate on how to address the growing amount of textile waste by applying the knowledge gained from consumer research regarding clothing use and proposing a regulatory measure called Targeted Producer Responsibility (TPR). The central method of TPR is waste analyses which relies on actual use – or non-use – of products as the starting point for eco-modulated fees. TPR reverses EPR and uses waste for overproduction knowledge, thus proposing a tool that can potentially reduce the total environmental impact of textiles.

Click here to download and read the full article.

Click here to download and read the full conference proceedings (aalto.fi)

Flawed or redundant: products with long lifespans against the odds

Authors: Harald Throne-Holst and Kirsi Laitala

Abstract

Many strategies are proposed that should enable the consumers to keep using the products for longer, but there is less research on which and how consumer practices contribute to longer lifespans. In this paper we focus on two specific, distinct ways of reaching long lifespans: 1) retaining redundant products even though they are not needed or used, and 2) keeping on using flawed products despite they no longer functioning, fitting, or delivering the expected service level. In the former, the products are passive while in the latter they remain in active use and thus reach longer service life. The discussion is based on six focus groups conducted in connection with the project LASTING. The overarching theme was product longevity of three product groups: electronics, textiles, and furniture. Our analysis points to five categories of explanations for products that are either kept despite the lack of any intention of using them again or retained in active use despite flaws: Economic, Ethical, Social, Emotional, and Intentions. It remains important to focus on active service life and various ways to promote it to reduce the environmental and climate impacts of consumption. The role of each of the five categories will be discussed, as well as implications for sustainability and policy options.

Click here to download and read the full article.

Click here to download and read the full conference proceedings (aalto.fi).

Why won’t you complain? Consumer rights and the unmet product lifespan requirements

Authors: Kirsi Laitala, Lisbeth Løvbak Berg and Pål Strandbakken.

Abstract

The Consumer Purchases Act is one of the cornerstones for ensuring that businesses are liable for defective or faulty products that do not meet the minimum requirements for lifespans. However, this right is too seldom used by consumers. This paper discusses the reasons for not complaining based on six consumer focus groups, where in total 36 consumers described furniture, electronics, and textile products that they were dissatisfied with. Many complaints were not made due to consumers’ cost-benefit evaluations, where they considered the economic costs, time use, and the needed effort, as well as the probability of getting the complaint accepted. Many participants lacked the competencies required to make the judgment when the right is applicable and where and how to proceed. Further, the expectations based on price and brand, properties of the product such as materials, as well as the type of fault and its relation to use were important. Strengthening and extending consumer rights to complain are discussed as an important part of the strategy to increase the quality of goods and extend their lifetimes. The findings show barriers and opportunities to the efficacy of this strategy that is highly relevant for policy development. There is a need for clear guidelines on what the consumer rights are for the specific products, what is considered unacceptable abrasion and normal use, and differentiation between commercial warranties and legal rights. Complaints are an important avenue for businesses to gain information about the performance of their products, and for legal durability expectations to be enforced.

Click here to download and read the full article.

Click here to download and read the full conference proceedings (aalto.fi).

Narratives of product longevity: a business vs. consumer perspective

Authors: Lisbeth Løvbak Berg and Marie Hebrok

Abstract

This paper explores narratives of product longevity expressed by businesses and consumers, with the aim of illuminating and comparing ways in which the two stakeholder groups express their engagement with products in the context of prolonging their lifespans. We base our analysis on consumer focus groups and interviews with company representatives. Our focus is on textiles (incl. clothing) and furniture. We find that technical and emotional durability are the two dominant ways of understanding product longevity by company representatives. Consumers, however, tell a different story, of living with their things, of use, of time passing, and of life events triggering change. This is a context in which social and systemic factors play a large role in determining the lifespan of a product – factors that are external to the product itself. Although all can agree on the importance of technical durability, problems connected to excessive production volumes and how products feature in everyday life are avoided in narratives produced by business actors. We argue that corporate narratives of product longevity are diverting our attention away from production toward consumption, keeping questions of volume and growth at arm’s length. These conflict with consumer narratives of product longevity that grapple with the materiality of the things within the context of lived lives in a consumer economy.

Click here to download and read the full article.

Click here to download and read the full conference proceedings (aalto.fi)

Studying clothing consumption volumes through wardrobe studies: a methodological reflection

Authors: Irene Maldini, Vilde Haugrønning and Lucrecia de León

Abstract

This paper introduces the relevance of volume-centric research in studies of clothing use. The global production of garments has grown dramatically in recent decades, bringing along significant environmental challenges. However, knowledge is lacking about why people deal with clothing quantities in such varied ways, and what leads some of them to overconsumption. A review of wardrobe research methods shows that there are various approaches to studying garments going in, around, and out of wardrobes. Gathering qualitative insights about specific garments, such as favorite garments, has been quite common. However, in order to advance knowledge about clothing consumption volumes, it is important to look at the wardrobe as a whole and include quantitative aspects. This paper reflects on what approaches and techniques can be used to that end. The reflections are combined with lessons learned from a pilot wardrobe study conducted in Uruguay, Portugal and Norway in 2022 with 20 respondents, concluding with recommendations for volume-centric methods in future wardrobe studies. Rigorous accounts of all garments owned should be combined with registration of items going in and out of the wardrobe over time in order to link accumulation to production and waste volumes. Methods connecting garment quantities with practices of daily use are particularly valuable. One example that has proven successful is piling exercises, a technique where participants are invited to categorize garments in groups according to specific criteria.

Click here to download and read the full article.

Click here to download and read the full conference proceedings (aalto.fi)

The devaluation of stockings

Authors: Tone Rasch, Ingrid Haugsrud, Kirsi Laitala and Atle Wehn Hegnes

Abstract

Consumer practices related to how we use and take care of products have changed throughout history. Especially within clothing consumption, the changes have accelerated in the Twentieth Century. In this paper, we use thin nylon stockings for women as an example product to see how their value, use, care, and lifetimes have evolved. The material is based on a literature review on nylon stockings from 1940 to today, accompanied by an analysis of consumers’ written narratives from 1990 where people were asked to describe their use and memories of stockings and pantyhose. Our contemporary data is based on consumer focus groups on product lifetimes and plastic materials conducted in 2021 and 2022. The tight-fitting nylon stockings for women were launched around World War II by the American company DuPont. Cheap nylon substituted luxurious silk stockings and increased their popularity throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Around 1970, synthetic substances were devalued when fashion changed from elegance to more casual styles, and the political opposition to plastic as environmental damage and a symbol of the established society permeated the growing youth culture. Consequently, nylon stockings went out of fashion. Today, thin pantyhose is seen as disposable consumables with low value. Thin stockings represent a good example of how we value and take care of delicate items has a significant contribution to their lifetimes. Looking into the historical context is beneficial for learning about the points in time when changes occurred and how they contribute to consumer practices.

Click here to download and read the full article.

Click here to download and read the full conference proceedings (aalto.fi)

THE PLASTIC ELEPHANT: Overproduction and synthetic fibres in sustainable textile strategies

Forfattere: Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Lisbeth Løvbak Berg, Anna Schytte Sigaard, Tone Skårdal Tobiasson og Lea Gleisberg

Sammendrag

I denne rapporten undersøker vi nasjonale, internasjonale og bedriftsstrategier for bærekraftige tekstiler for å forstå om, og i så fall hvordan de inkluderer problemet med økte produksjonsvolumer basert på syntetiske materialer som kan bli omtalt som ‘plastelefanten i rommet’. Dette gjøres ved å stille fire spørsmål. Først ser vi etter om strategiene diskuterer vekst i produksjonsvolumer og mulige virkemidler for å stoppe denne veksten. Deretter undersøker vi om de adresserer plastifiseringen av tekstiler. Med plastifisering mener vi den økende andelen plastfibre som brukes i tekstilproduksjonen. For det tredje, om de diskuterer råmaterialene for plast, og for det fjerde, plastavfall. Resultatet viser at ingen av disse spørsmålene relatert til å få ned miljøbelastningene fra produksjon av klær står sentralt i strategiene.

Klikk her for å lese hele rapporten på engelsk.

Want Not, Waste Not: Preliminary findings

Author: Anna Schytte Sigaard

Summary

This project note presents preliminary findings from a PhD project looking into textile waste from Norwegian households. 28 households collected textiles that they would have otherwise discarded for a period of six months. The textiles were collected by the PhD candidate during visits to the households where qualitative interviews were carried out. Then, all textiles were registered along with information from the interviews. The findings indicate that most of the discarded textiles are clothes and shoes. However, when broken down into textile categories, household textiles represent the largest group of discarded textiles. In addition, findings show that about one third of the collected textiles were in a very good condition, either like new or with only minor changes. The fiber content of the textiles corresponded with the preliminary findings from work package 2 in Wasted Textiles, as there was an equal distribution between 100% synthetic textiles, 100% non-synthetic textiles and textiles containing a mix of these. It was also found that the largest group of users were adult women, especially when looking at number of textiles discarded. If weight was applied instead, the difference between the genders evened out more. As these findings are preliminary, it is too early to provide any hard conclusions. Instead, the project note is meant to grant insights into the kind of data that will eventually be available and shared with the project group.

Click here to read the full project note.