Alexis Todorovski: How I’m Reducing Our Carbon Footprint and Working Towards Sustainability
POPSUGAR Australia is dedicating the month of October to featuring the next generation of inspired thinkers and courageous individuals who are building and manifesting a brighter future — because the next gen is unstoppable. We will deliver personal essays from young Australians who are making a name for themselves, as well as inspiring thought pieces and interviews with rising talent across different industries throughout the month. Find all of our pieces here, and if there’s someone you think is missing, email our editor so we can share their story — [email protected].
Joining the family business wasn’t always part of my career plan. I knew I wanted to do something that would benefit the world in some way, but I didn’t know what that was. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer and then a teacher and after being accepted in both respective graduate schools, something didn’t feel quite right.
I discussed which path I should take with a friend and they told me that they could see me in marketing because of my creative side. I decided to randomly apply for a Masters in Marketing at Melbourne Business School and I was accepted into Melbourne Business School within the week.
After I finished my Masters in 2014, I wanted to travel and work overseas. To help me increase my chances of finding a job, I worked in SCRgroup for some experience so I could put something on my resume.
In that time, I worked with charities, helped to deliver the schools program to students and came to appreciate how much of an impact SCRgroup was making environmentally by diverting from landfills. After six months, I moved overseas and lived in London for a year.
It was there that I saw first-hand just how advanced other countries were when it came to recycling and sustainability. Landfills overseas were already reaching their capacity and being shut down, so organisations had to be creative with incentives and alternatives to encourage reuse and recycling in a circular economy. On every corner, I saw a clothing hub or charity store and countless flyers promoting clothing home pickup programs. There were even commercials on TV, something we don’t really see at all here in Australia.
I worked for the NHS, UK’s publicly funded health system, as a Sustainable Development Manager. I devised a five-year Sustainable Development Plan for one of the hospitals that involved extensive research into hospitals all around the world that were winning awards in sustainability to draw on their successes. In my spare time, I began doing the same kind of research for clothing recycling to share with my family business.
What I found was European countries tend to have a greater awareness and practice more sustainable behaviours, largely because of a European Union Parliamentary Waste Directive and subsequent government policies that require member European States to meet sustainability targets and goals.
For example, in France, they have implemented an Extended Producer Responsibility Policy for the textile waste stream and have legislated that for every 1,500 inhabitants they will place 1 clothing hub. This was to help them achieve a 50% recovery rate of solid waste and a target of 4.6kg of clothing, linens and footwear to be recycled per person per year.
When I came back to Australia I re-joined my family business and was inspired to make a difference, comparable to global examples. The first thing I did was concentrate on SCRgroup’s fundraising and education school programs and extended the program to include secondary schools as well as university lectures.
One of the reasons I think Australia has a low textile recycling rate of just 12% and is sending over 800 million kgs of new and used clothes to landfill according to a recent Blue Environment Report, is because of a lack of education from an early age. If you think about when you were at school, you may remember learning about paper recycling, food recycling and even plastic recycling, but not many of us can say we learnt about clothes recycling and the detrimental impacts to the environment if our preloved clothes end up in landfill.
Our school programs educate the students on the impacts of fast fashion, and the importance of reuse and recycling clothing. It is often forgotten that a piece of clothing isn’t just worth what you see and feel but also have value embodied energy, such as water and energy that went into making them. We help the students understand why reuse is the most sustainable option for your clothes because it doesn’t require any more resources.
Now I work with some of Australia’s largest organisations such as shopping centre groups and retailers like H&M and Government bodies across all levels (Local, State and Federal) to deliver customised solutions that work towards improving Australia’s textile recycling rate and reducing our environmental footprint, including the implementation of textile recycling technologies.
I absolutely love what I do and the impact I’m contributing to. So, although this journey wasn’t the one I had planned, sometimes the best things to happen to you are the most unexpected.
To find out more about all of the game-changing work Alexis Todorovski is doing in the space of sustainability, you can visit the SCRGroup here.