How to Save Humanity in 17 Goals: ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

In many parts of the world these days garments are bought purely as fashion items, and discarded after just a few months or years. But as the global population grows and personal wealth levels increase, solutions are urgently needed to process increasing volumes of textile waste as consumption rises. This waste includes synthetic fibres, which do not degrade in nature.

Sonja Salmon describes advances in enzymatic processes to deconstruct and then recycle mixed fibre garments made from both polyester and cotton, alongside the environmental costs of producing and transporting clothes in the first place. “Technically, there are going to be some challenges in it. But that’s why we’re scientists, right? That's what we do,” says Salmon, who is based at Wilson College of Textiles in Raleigh, North Carolina.

How to Save Humanity in 17 Goals is a podcast series that profiles scientists whose work addresses one or more of the SDGs. Episodes 7–12 are produced in partnership with Nature Water, and introduced by Fabio Pulizzi, its chief editor.