The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, remanufacturing, and recycling materials and products as long as possible. This implies minimizing waste and pollution and reducing the use of new resources. As in nature, everything is transformed and finds a new purpose. It is in contrast with the traditional linear model, based on a take-make-dispose pattern.

e.g. The company wants to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.



Cradle to cradle has emerged as another term for circularity. It is a play on the phrase, “cradle to grave” which suggests a high-waste linear business model. A cradle to cradle model designs out waste, either through the use of biodegradable materials that will return to nature’s cycles, or keeping materials in use in a cycle of use and re-use, optimising original resource use, avoiding waste, and reducing the production of virgin raw materials.

e.g. An increasing number of product designers are combatting waste through cradle to cradle design and production.




Greenhouse gases are gases naturally present in the athmosphere like water vapour (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and ozone (O3) among others. They contribute to mantaining the Earth’s heat and they warm the Earth by absorbing energy and slowing the rate at which the energy escapes in to space. The gases act like a blanket insulating the Earth, and is called the Greenhouse effect. Without it the Earth’s temperature would be 30 degrees cooler.

e.g. CO2 is the GHG most commonly produced by human activities and it is responsible for 64% of man-made global warming.




To take an existing material and process it into a new product, through chemical or mechanical processes.

e.g. The take-back scheme was launched to collect old garments and recycle the materials.




The Sustainable Development Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals defined and adopted by United Nations Member States in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The goals focus on ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring peace, and can be used by independent governments to develop legislative plans of action, or by brands and citizens as a set of goals to align practice with.

e.g. The brand aligned its environmental sustainability strategy with 5 of the SDGs.




An economic model focused on sharing or providing access to underutilised goods and services, generally facilitated through online platforms. It is a flexible peer-to-peer network that can be used to combat overconsumption, resource and material waste, and the perception of ownership; instead encouraging community engagement and sustainability.

e.g. The new report published by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation cites a sharing economy as a possible solution to sustainability issues in the fashion industry because it can reduce overproduction through utilising existing materials.




The ability to track a supply chain or material back to its origins to see the movement of materials and the locations of production and manufacturing facilities. Traceability is a key challenge faced by globalised supply chains, however recent advancements in technology including fibres forensically traced to farm, and clothing microchips that can show the complete fabric to garment supply chain, can help highlight potential social and environmental risks in the countries involved.

e.g. To improve traceability in its supply chain, the brand’s new supplier code of conduct prohibits unofficial subcontracting and requires the names and addresses of all producers and manufacturers.



[uncountable noun]

A set of principles with the focus of preventing waste through design, production processes or lifestyle choices.

e.g. In order to combat waste, the designer experimented with zero waste pattern cutting, or as part of my zero-waste mission I am going to bring packed lunches from home in reusable containers.