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Sustainable Summer: Marilyn Martinez

Welcome to the first installment of our Sustainable Summer interview series! Over the next few months, we will be chatting to a whole host of environmentally focused experts and advocates, who place our lovely planet earth at the heart of what they do. 

To kick off the series, we are chatting to Marilyn Martinez. If, like us, you are fashion obsessed, but feel a pang of guilt when you hear that 10,000 items of clothing are sent to landfill every five minutes, then you will find this chat SUPER interesting. Marilyn works within the circular economy industry, focusing on ways that clothes can be accessed and created more sustainably.

With the boom of fast fashion having major environmental impacts, we chatted to Marilyn about the work she's doing to improve the industry, and her top tips on how to become for sustainably minded.

Hey Marilyn! Please introduce yourself to the nuddy community and tell us a bit about your background and how it links to sustainability.

Hello! I am Marilyn, a circular economy expert within fashion. I work with businesses, governments and NGOs to rethink how people access fashion and how clothes are designed, made and used. My goal is to create a positive future for ourselves and the world. 

Suppose the ultimate aim is to create products and businesses that can and will thrive in the future. In that case, sustainability answers the question of 'how do we make better products?' 

The circular economy answers the question of 'how do we provide access to fashion while allowing nature to thrive?' 

The first one points toward selecting better materials, using fewer chemicals and less water, and maybe trying out a new manufacturing process that makes the product more durable. The latter points toward a much bigger question about how we have set up the current system. Therefore, it opens up solutions such as resale or rental models - which deliver economic benefits without relying on new production.

So, when did your interest in sustainability begin? What *exactly* was it that led you to the path you are on today?

I began my career in consulting. By complete chance, I got into a project where I had to review several circular solutions. Back then, the examples were mainly start-ups or pilots, but that was it for me. 

I realised that you CAN make money while doing BETTER for the world and that there were people out there already doing it. So, I thought: I must get into this as well!

I did my best to learn as much as possible about sustainability and circular economy and then moved to focus solely on that. 

In this crazy age that we live in, 'sustainability' can feel like a major minefield. What does the term mean to you?

It can. Sustainability has been diluted and overused as the single word to describe anything that is a tiny bit better than the "norm". 

Instead of assessing where or how people or organisations use the term, I like to look for outcomes. 

The most practical action you can do to prevent or slow down further environmental damage is to make the most of what you own and what already exists. Therefore, whenever I see the term, I ask myself, 'does this claim fuel my shopping habits? Or, 'does it ensure products are used more?'

Simple yet effective rule of thumb!

Who are your BIGGEST inspirations within the environmentalism sphere? Shout out your faves.

Quite a few! I love solutions that try to make it easier for people to access fashionable items for short periods. They provide the perfect solution to avoid shopping for new stuff altogether! 

By Rotation and Selfridges have a great selection of occasion dresses I can use this wedding season. 

I sell quite a bit on Vestiaire Collective, Vinted and Depop, and I always check them out before getting something new. 

In terms of design, I like Balzac, GANNI and Reformation.

News about the environment can often feel verrryyyyyy overwhelming. Where do you look for informative and reliable resources?

I like the Skimm for news in general - quick to read. Also, a fan of the Economist when I have more time. 

When checking out new brands or products, I have found that Good on You has reliable information.

What are your top 3 tips for someone who is looking to take the plunge into a more sustainable lifestyle?

1. Use more of what you already own. For example, better care, repair, customisation, and tailoring.

2. Opt for 'used' first. Think about new ways to shop that aren't buying new – such as resale or rental options.

3. If you're not wearing it anymore, do not let it become waste. Try to sell, lend, share, gift, or donate.