To say farewell to this old decade, I’m introducing a new section on Stitch. Every week I will try to sum up the news from the week behind us. I say I will try, I can’t make any promises. Anyhow, I think it’s important to take into consideration everything that’s going on. This can help us be better citizens, better consumers, and better designers.

This week, however, is special because we’re taking a look into the most promising sustainability news of the whole year.

GOVERNMENTS IN ACTION

Climate crisis should be fought through policies. There is no other way to fight it widely. Private companies and we as individuals can do a lot, but until the governments start introducing new policies we can’t make a large scale change.

This year we had some improvements but there’s still a long way to go. Senator Edward Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal made little progress in the Congress but has inspired over 600 companies to show their support and write to Congress. If president Trump loses the presidential election next year, Markey and Ocasio-Cortez might actually get a chance to push it through.

In Europe, things are a bit better. The European Green Deal is going ahead with a goal to make European climate neutral by 2050. At its core are the circular economy principles and it seems more realistic to achieve all this in 30 years than in 10 as Green New Deal suggests. Next year will be extremely interesting politically in the West. Great Britain is leaving the EU, the USA have their presidential elections and Ursula von der Leyen is only starting to do her work as the head of the European Commission. We’ll see what that brings to the wellbeing of our planet.

BIG COMPANIES IN ACTION

Some sustainability preachers might argue that big companies are the first to blame for the climate crisis we’re facing. And I don’t disagree. I strongly believe we should shop locally from small producers with a sustainable and transparent chain of production. More than that, I believe we should shop less. But the thing is, big companies are the ones with power and influence and if they ignore the climate crisis, our individual efforts might not matter at all.

On the wings of a trend or because they truly believe in the higher cause, big companies have really started to make an effort towards sustainability in 2019.

Amazon promised to buy 100.000 electric vehicles and to be carbon-neutral by 2040. Ikea promised to be carbon-neutral by 2030 and invested 200 million euros to do that. Inditex announced all their fabrics will be organic or recycled by 2025. Prada became the first luxury brand to take a loan tied with sustainability promising that a certain number of their shops will be green, that their employees will be trained and that they’ll stop using nylon by 2021. This is just the tip of the iceberg and these for now only promises, should become normal operating standards for all companies around the world.

INVENTIONS, INVENTIONS, INVENTIONS

In a world where an AI assistant can make you a hair dresser’s appointment, you might think that everything has already been invented. But when we talk about sustainability in fashion, we still have a long way to go. Besides going carbon-neutral, reducing the use of energy, using organic and recycled materials as well as non-toxic dyes, the fashion industry should always look for ways to be innovative.

Recycled polyester and organic cotton are becoming common even with high street brands, but we need more than that. Cotton still requires a lot of water and energy for cultivation and recycled polyester still releases microplastics into our waterways. That’s why we need more innovations.

This year Adidas revealed a new shoe made completely out of recyclable materials like thermoplastic polyurethane and without glue. Since shoes are really hard to recycle, this is an amazing achievement. However, we need biodegradable shoes.

A great discovery was made in the field of vegan leather. Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez debuted their innovative cactus leather Desserto, created by their company Adriano Di Marti. The nopal cacti they use to make don’t need water to grow. However, it’s only partially biodegradable and the company doesn’t state what that means in practice on their official website.

In 2020 we nee more innovations like that and the odds are we’ll get them. I’m excited to see what comes next.