The End of the Throwaway Society?

Posted by Flux on 

1 November 2019

What’s Trending Now?
Millennials are embracing the secondhand market as a way to not only save money, but to reduce their carbon footprint. According to several sources, millennials are in a much tougher financial position than their parents were at the same age: living is more expensive today than it was for baby boomers when they were growing up. In addition, millennials in many parts of the world experienced two recessions, in 2001 and 2008, so they know what it means to scrape by. Millennials currently make up the largest demographic in the workforce and are faced with a daily reminder that the planet’s resources are becoming more and more scarce.

Why is it important?
The trend sees push back against decades of mindless purchasing. Many consumers now not only want to know where the things they buy are coming from, but how they were made and who has been affected by the manufacturing process. There’s a newfound conscience among millennials who no longer have the financial resources or the inclination to buy and throw away in an endless cycle.

What’s the butterfly effect?
Activists are urging consumers to buy items that are of better quality and perhaps cost more, but last longer. Even mending – popular in our grandparents’ era and long before that – appears to have made a comeback. According to reports, Swedish clothing company H&M has established a free mending service at one of its revamped UK stores. Extending the life of sports shoes also seems to be on the increase. US specialists Jason Markkhas opened in London, where its “sneaker care technicians” will professionally clean your shoes, saving them from the landfill. The minimalist trend is still very much alive and well, so the mindset of owning less is already in vogue. Companies will need to go back to the drawing board in terms of what kind of products they offer: items will need to last longer and be able to withstand multiple changes of ownership while being made from sustainable, ethically-sourced materials.

The pioneers
Thrifting – buying from charity shops at a low price – and upcycling aren’t exactly new concepts but the brands that will make them common practice are H&M and LVMH, with their huge investments in this area. Just recently there’s been a social media campaign starring celebrities like Olivia Wilde , punting the virtues of wearing secondhand clothing.

Patagonia, an outdoor gear brand, impresses with its sustainability and ethical practices. It stands behind its claims that its products are long lasting, by offering a repair and reuse programme.
Van de Sant, a Dutch furniture brand, received some serious attention recently , when the founder was on the UK show, Dragon’s Den. The company manufactures furniture from waste plastic but it takes the concept a step further by supplying furniture that hotels and the like can rent, based on how much it’s been used (the chairs for instance have a chip inside that measures the number of times a person sits on it). The company also allows buyers to trade in pieces of furniture so they can be recycled into other pieces, such as a sofa becoming a table. Van de Sant partnered locally with Netdecor recently.

The global hot spots
The US and Europe but we see this spilling over into Asia, in countries like Japan and South Korea.

By Lauren Wheatley

About Lauren

Lauren Wheatley is a writer, features editor, former business owner and psychology student. She has a passion for science and technology, in particular artificial intelligence and the future of life on Earth and the potential for humans to be a multi-planet species. This is what has drawn her to researching and writing about trends.

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Image credit: thredUPnews

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