Experts in Sport logo overlaid on an image of purple material

Experts in Sport: The sports apparel waste problem

Sport has a major part to play within the apparel industry, encouraging high levels of consumerism among sports fans. But what actions can be taken to improve the industry’s environmental impact?

In this episode of the Experts in Sport podcast, host Martin Foster is joined by guest Joanna Czutkowna to discuss the issue of sustainability around sports kit apparel and the wider social issues that influence its consumption and use.

Larger issues around the unsustainable nature of the fashion industry are explored, revealing that only one per cent of used clothing is turned into new clothing. Infrastructure within the consumerist world is not scaled to prioritise sustainability; fast fashion and ultra-fast fashion present themselves as issues in this space.

It is considered how large financial losses have been produced from underutilising garments, with the fashion industry adhering to a linear business model which is not socially or environmentally sustainable. The dying culture of repair is also touched upon, recognising the decline in knowledge and discourse around practical skills that may contribute to improving the sustainability of consumerism.

"Financially, about €108 million is being lost and basically set on fire each season... And that's equivalent to transfer fees of somebody like Jude Bellingham."

Sports fans are identified as a key social group in improving the sustainability of the industry, providing them with the agency to influence consumerist patterns and bring about wider social change.

Joanna is a consultant and doctoral researcher specialising in circularity within sports apparel. She has extensive experience in product innovation and global supply chains. With over 20 years of international experience, she has managed global sourcing strategy and innovation departments for some of the world's largest apparel brands. She is completing her PhD at Loughborough University researching circular economy for football apparel and is the CEO of 5THREAD.

Listeners of the podcast can subscribe and download the latest episode by visiting iTunes, Spotify, and TuneIn. All subscribers will receive an alert once new episodes are published.

The Experts in Sport podcast is a regular series that brings together experts from across Loughborough University with external thought leaders to discuss the latest research and hot topics in sport and academia with new episodes launched regularly.