‘We must learn about materials to drive the circular economy’

Research shows consumers need to learn more about what they wear to become more sustainable

Big Zero Report 2023

Learning about the impacts of the materials we wear will be key to achieving a circular economy.

That’s according to research by the Material Science Research Centre (MSRC) and Textiles Circularity Research Centre (TCC), stating a lack of understanding prevents the public from becoming ‘agents of responsible consumption’.

The study reveals that in 2018, consumers in the UK bought clothing valued at £60 billion and that each year the sector sends one million tonnes to landfill for incineration.

The centres have been jointly investigating how new technology and interactive design can help the public understand the story behind the materials we wear and what goes into producing them.

They believe that if consumers engage more in how their clothes are made, they will become more sustainable in the way they buy and sell them. “Forging a closer relationship between consumer and materials can help to promote new product cultures,” the report states.

A ‘Compositor Tool’ has been developed, as a result of their research, with sections explaining the beginnings of materials, their futures after use and an interactive part where people can sensorially experience each one and learn the differences.

The report reads: “Gamification, storytelling and multimodal interactions with physical and digital artefacts are shown to create awareness of the importance of decision-making, to facilitate creative interactions and to instigate a desire to care for the materials and products.

“People are only part of the life cycle of a material for a relatively small portion of time. The compositor tool opened up new approaches helping the consumer understand the temporality of materials and catalysing their desire to facilitate a sustainable life cycle.”

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