It’s not just the pandemic that’s setting this year’s “Black Friday” apart from its predecessors. This year IKEA announced #BuyBackFriday, where the group offers to buy back customers old IKEA furniture, in-step with their pledge for all products to be made from recycled or renewable materials by 2030. Does this represent a turning point for retail?

In terms of consumer good, the unsustainable practices of the fashion industry have been thrust into the spotlight, above all others. “Fast fashion” is a multi-faceted problem which requires a combination of creative solutions. From the fibres used to our throwaway culture, the term “Fast fashion” highlights issues throughout the entire supply chain and life cycle of our garments.

Taking just one aspect of the problem – unsustainable materials – what creative solutions are hitting the rack?

Well, as the days grow colder its winter wardrobe season and many are reaching for the puff coat. However, these wearable duvets are generally made of virgin petroleum-based polyester. The typical down coat therefore isn’t exactly an eco-staple. The “down” also refers to the duck and goose feathers which make up the insulation. With many scandals over “live plucking” and force feeding practises with suppliers for high-street brands , many retailers have now decided to move onto new materials.

Arket and Patagonia have pledged to use only recycled down. Arket’s supplier, Re:Down upcycles old down naturally in hot thermal water – no chemicals required – with leftover waste used to make an organic fertiliser. Other sustainable options include the Thermoball Eco by North Face made from 100% recycled polyester – consumer plastic diverted from landfill .


Another animal product with growing competition from natural materials is leather. As recently reported by Forbes, “the byproducts emit greenhouse gases, consume finite natural resources (particularly through the rearing of livestock), and pollute the environment through tanning and dying processes.” Its no surprise therefore that brands are exploring alternatives.

Vegan leather could be worth $85 billion by the year 2025, according to a recent report by Grand View Research. Previous imitation leather (“pleather”) was made of poly-compounds therefore pretty unsustainable, but now a variety of innovative designers are working on natural alternatives.

One of the most popular is mushroom leather. Mylo (made from mycelium) is a best-selling product from US biotech Bolt Threads. Adidas, Stella McCartney, Lulemon and Gucci have teamed up to invest in the material, expecting the product to hit the shelves in 2021.

What do you think of the latest sustainable initiatives? Book your group on a Sustainable London Walking Tour and explore London as a sustainable city! Now, This also available as a virtual experience, click here to find out more.