Eco-Friendly Backpacks: How Cora + Spink Tackles the Fashion Industry’s Plastic Challenge.

cora Spink fighting plastic in textiles 3 of 3

When budget, aesthetics, and functionality are at war…

“Recently, awareness of various polluting aspects of textile production, based on petroleum derivatives, has grown significantly…” – Patti & Acierno, 2022

The Ubiquity of Plastic in Fashion and Textiles.

Plastic has been a game changer for the fashion industry. Its versatility has led to the development of polyester, nylon, and acrylic to name a few, making them staples in the production of modern clothing, especially bags and backpacks.

Synthetic fibres offer durability, flexibility, and are significantly cheaper than natural alternatives. Their widespread use has made a modern age problem, from microplastics generated every time synthetic garments are washed, to single use plastic packaging. These plastics find their way into our water systems, food chain, contaminating and polluting every square inch of our planet.

“Plastics have remained the material of choice… Biopolymers have emerged as promising green materials although they still have very low market uptake.” – Ncube, 2020

The Challenge of Going Plastic-Free.

Eliminating plastic is no simple task. Most components, from buttons to zippers and even thread, contain plastic. Moreover, synthetic materials have properties that are hard to replicate with natural alternatives. They can be water-resistant, elastic, and durable, making them the immediate choice for billions of units of textile and fashion products made every year.

“The fashion industry is facing increasing global scrutiny of its environmentally polluting supply chain operations. Despite the widely publicized environmental impacts, the industry continues to grow, in part due to the rise of fast fashion, which relies on cheap manufacturing, frequent consumption, and short-lived garment use. Impacts from the fashion industry include over 92 million tonnes of waste produced per year and 79 trillion litres of water consumed.” – K. Niinimäki et al., “The environmental price of fast fashion”, 2020

Cora + Spink’s Approach.

We took a radical approach to address our reliance on synthetics, radical but staged. Whilst we are incredibly proud to becoming 99% plastic-free, our journey to this point has been a challenge.

Bucking the norm from day one has always been our motto, but to be able to rid ourselves of plastic we had to both source, and develop our own alternatives. From the metal clips replacing the brilliant plastic versions, to paper packaging it highlighted why most businesses do not have the resources, budget and therefore desire to adopt change.

But somehow, we managed this process, our remaining 1% represents areas where alternatives are needed.

“The fashion industry has to play an important role in the path towards sustainability and the circular economy. Indeed, the fashion industry is a sector with a high environmental impact; it involves a very long and complicated supply chain, which is associated with large consumption of water and energy, use of chemical substances, water and air pollution, waste production and finally microplastic generation.” – Valentina Jacometti, “Circular Economy and Waste in the Fashion Industry”, 2019

The Misunderstood Narrative of Plastic.

Plastic, in itself, is not the enemy. It’s a versatile material that has revolutionised many industries. The problem lies in our reliance on single-use plastics, poor waste management, and the greenwashing of plastic recycling. The recycling process has several overlooked negative impacts, from the release of volatile organic compounds to the downcycling of plastic into less useful products. The global waste management system has also been strained by the sheer volume of plastic waste. In 2018, China’s ban on plastic waste imports further highlighted the need for sustainable solutions.

In light of these challenges, Cora + Spink’s commitment to being 99% plastic-free is not just a marketing strategy, but a necessity for the health of our planet and its inhabitants.

Things Cora + Spink has done.

Some of the developments you’d never think about, Velcro to the lamination of swing tickets all contribute to the problem.

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