Weaving our way through “WASTE”
GUESTS FOR CHANGE with ANNABELLE HUTTER PART 2
Within the Guests for Change series, thought leaders, pioneers, visionaries, and game-changers are interviewed to give us more insight into the world of sustainability and circularity. Continuing from part 1, in an exclusive conversation with Annabelle Hutter, we learn about her perspective of waste management within the textile industry.
The answer? The world is not doing enough.
Image by Antoine Giret from Unsplash
In particular, she highlights that the government is not doing enough. For example, America currently lacks the systems in place to fully support recycling, such as collection points and sorting systems. Along with that, there are disparities within the legislation, which currently prevents people from managing their waste correctly. In some countries, waste is a private resource whereby people make money collecting other people’s trash. However, in situations where profit is the main goal, setting up improved systems for recycling is not likely to be a priority. Throughout history, the drive and motivation for profit has had an influence on how and why we do the things we do.
This has been interwoven with influences of patriarchy and colonialism, as Annabelle points out. While studying, Annabelle’s art history thesis focused on the Spanish colonization of South America. Within this, she explored how cotton originated in South American countries, and then became exploited as a colonial element. The ideology of waste stems from this period of colonization, where profit was the main goal. Even today, this ideology still has a direct impact on the way we view waste.
Image by Ethan Bodnar from Unsplash
The word itself, “waste”, is understood in a negative light and has connotations of disgust. She views it as a male-dominated subject and believes that people are disgusted by waste simply because that’s how the mainstream narrative has taught us how to understand it. In this way, discarding waste has become an unconscious norm, with few people actually considering the entirety of its impact on the earth. Likewise, she believes that colonialism and patriarchy have played a major role in the textile industry - from consumer habits to the education of approaching textiles and products in general.
Image by Vivianne Lemayr from Unsplash
There are many aspects within the textile industry beyond the concept of “waste management” that need improving, and in some cases, that work is being done. Another huge problem in the industry, which has received some attention, is air pollution. Companies and brands are finding solutions to it, such as the facility in Turkey where the bags from her brand Born On Saturday are made. The facility has built its own power plant and energy source on-site, which allows them to regenerate their own hydropower. In light of this, she shares that:
“Small steps are really big in the whole spectrum of things”
While positive changes are being made, it’s a slow progression and Annabelle recognizes that we are nowhere near where we need to be in terms of circularity. But, everything begins with a small step in the right direction - and indeed continuing to take those steps, irrespective of how seemingly small they may be, is what counts.
Image by Markus Spiske from Unsplash
Annabelle reminds us that the younger generations will be the ones living on the planet in the years to come, and so they are probably the most entitled to be challenging the status quo. As such, much of the responsibility of taking these steps is going to fall on the shoulders of the youth. Annabelle encourages them to engage in dialogue, to call people out, to open discussions, to raise awareness, and to teach others to do better. “If you have a friend who always buys fast fashion - call them out,” she advises, and:
“Don’t be afraid to be ‘that’ person”.
Used to being called an “angry feminist” and a “difficult person”, Annabelle highlights the importance of pushing past such labels and continuing to be proactive. By planting a seed in someone’s head you open doors for them and help them think twice. In fact, this is something Annabelle takes pride in. She is a big advocate for staying true to your beliefs, having strong opinions, and sharing them.
Watch the webinar with Annabelle below, and leave a comment to keep the conversation about circularity going. As always, keep an eye out for our next Guest!