The Millennial consumer has high expectations in terms of social and environmental issues and looks beyond just the financial cost of their purchase. Having grown up in a politically active and connected world, they understand the effect the products they purchase have on the environment.
This means the Millennial generation is becoming increasingly interested in brands which use a more ‘Circular’ business model as an alternative to the traditional linear business model of “take, make, dispose”.
This Circular model involves a smarter, more restorative way to create, use and dispose of products, designing products which not only use the minimal amount of the earth’s valuable resources, but are also manufactured in a way that designs out waste throughout the life cycle of the product.
Key brands across all industries, from the worlds’ largest car manufacturers such as Ford, through to major retailers such as M&S, are all moving slowly towards a more ‘circular’ business model. They are doing this by not only looking for creative ways to minimise manufacturing waste and recycle old products, but also developing partnerships with manufacturers in other industries where the waste from one manufacturer can be used as a resource by a partner manufacturer.
As an example, concerns about the fact that the energy needed to wash a garment is 6 times that needed to make it in the first place, has led to Xeros, a design company based at Leeds University to look at developments in technology that allows for (almost) ‘waterless washing’.
During the wash cycle, more than a million tiny polymer beads are added into the load along with a cup of water and a few drop of Xeros’s special detergent. These beads have an inherent polarity that attracts and the dirt is absorbed into the centre of the beads, where it remains trapped.
The beads provide a gentle tumbling action in the wash as they lift the dirt from fabrics. This action puts less stress on the fabric than the prolonged soaking and agitation of traditional washing machines. This means that fabrics have a longer useful life than those washed with a traditional washing machine.
The machines require less than 20 per cent of the water used in normal washing machines and use just 50 per cent of the electricity needed to complete a cycle with a traditional machine. The beads also resist dye transfer between colours and whites, so less wash cycles need to be completed.
Furthermore, Xeros claims that their beads are completely recyclable after use and be turned into plastic for other uses.