Meet the women changing the face of sustainability in football. 

According to University of Manchester fashion and textile business lecturers; Dr Amy Benstead, Dr Jo Conlon and Lindsay Pressdee, the UK disposes of one million tonnes of textiles every year. Of this, 300,000 tonnes will end up in landfill or incineration, suggesting that 10% of global CO2 emissions could come from the fashion industry.

Wanting to raise awareness, Amy, Jo and Lindsay set up The Game Changers project focused on tackling the often-hidden problem of sports garment waste. The football sector is a huge contributor to textile waste – approximately 2.45 million Liverpool and 1.95 million Manchester United sports shirts were sold worldwide in 2021 alone.

Sportswear is often an overlooked area, despite an over-reliance on polyester garments, which are harmful to the environment as the fabric releases microfibres and takes hundreds of years to fully biodegrade.

Working with local sportswear suppliers and the local community to transform surplus football shirts into unique reusable tote bags, while educating them of the environmental impacts of textile waste and how we can extend the life of our garments.

“As a society we lack the basic skills and knowledge needed to repair clothes and understand the environmental impact of textiles.”

One of the key principles of the circular economy is to recycle used or unused materials to reuse them in the creation of new objects. Their research at The University of Manchester investigates the issues surrounding polyester sports garments and tackles the invisible sources and routes these garments take into the waste stream. They are also creating an educational opportunity to engage with communities and schools to build awareness and skills with the next generation of consumers, into recycling, repurposing, and garment circularity.

The project aims to provide a fun, responsible way to keep kits in circulation while shining a light on the large-scale problem in the industry.

“Developing meaningful sustainable business models and changing consumer behaviour remains key issues within the fashion sector and raises serious environmental concerns.” We hope this project will continue the conversation about garment waste and recycling and how we can inspire others and work towards a circularity.”

This project brings together the team’s wealth of experience and expertise to tackle the challenges of working towards circularity with sports garments and building a more sustainable future for us all.

Amy, Jo and Lindsay will be attending the 2024 Inspiring Women awards lunch as finalists, where they will be sharing their stories with the audience.

To learn more about the event & book tickets, please visit here.