- Sustainable use of clothing and textiles is important. A lot of discarded textile is not recycled and ends up at the garbage dump.
- NakedGreen offers a solution by recycling clothing and turning it into new corporate clothing.
Olaf Pothoven is the director of both Telva in Hengelo and Deventrade in Deventer. The latter supplies more than 1500 sports clubs with sports clothing. Pothoven noticed the enormous amount of textile not being recycled, a thorn in his side. “Construction clothing wears quickly, breaks and disappears in a waste bin and ultimately in incinerators. An enormous amount of clothing is unnecessarily burned. I believe in a circular economy and the governments’ focus on achieving it. The goal for 2050 is a wasteless economy, but I believe this can be achieved much sooner for textiles.” In 2030, only 12 years from now, 50% of the economy must be circular.
Pothoven stranded in his search to find companies able to recycle his discarded work clothing. “Online companies presented their offer nicely, but in reality, they could not do it. Now I’m one year ahead, and some companies still need to call me back. That’s when I decided to just go for it. I will not wait for something to happen. I will do it myself. Just do it!”
Pothoven started NakedGreen, a non-profit. The name reminds of “pure nature”, but also of “hip and kinky”. Intentional, according to the owner. NakedGreen will collect broken or redundant clothing at Telva customers. “Jeans to specialised mixed yarn work clothing, anything goes.” The entrepreneur will place bright yellow containers at the customers and will empty them regularly. People working in sheltered employment will sort the clothing by colour and type, and will strip the clothing of zippers and buttons.
There are various options to reuse the textile. For example, factories can use the clothing to produce new textile, and it can be compressed to be used as construction isolation material or felt. The clothing that cannot be processed is shipped to Africa, where Sympany sells it in Angola, Ethiopia, Malawi, India and elsewhere. Profits are donated to local aid projects.
Pothoven starts with Telva's clothing because as a dealer he has more influence on those textiles compared to the sports clothing. “I have to start somewhere, and it does not have to generate any money.” Ultimately, the goal is to have a clothing line with a NakedGreen label. “Clothing will only get this label if it has been produced from sustainable raw materials, such as organic cotton or bamboo.”
Pothoven has received many positive responses. “A major road builder from this region wants to join this initiative, while not even being a Telva customer. Well, why not? Let’s say they pay 1 euro per kilo. I don’t even know if we can process for that price. We’ll see. Let’s just do it.”