Meaningful Business (MB:) Please tell us a bit about your background.
Alina Bassi (AB): I grew up in an extremely international environment. I have Indian heritage, with parents born in Tanzania, whilst I was born and raised in the UK. I have been extremely passionate about sustainability from a young age, and became a Chemical Engineer with the goal to work in the sustainability sector. After completing a Masters, I worked for many years in multiple consultancies and startups, working on recycling household waste and even coffee waste. In 2018, I moved to Berlin and started working on Kleiderly in 2019.
MB: What Led you to start Kleiderly?
AB: It all started with a trip to Tanzania. Having worked in the waste sector for a while, and visiting many different sites where waste is collected or recycled, I hadn’t seen textile waste firsthand. During a trip to Tanzania, I saw used clothing being sold on second hand markets, and it got me thinking about what happens to textile waste once it reaches its end-of-life. I was shocked to learn that 87% of all materials used for clothing end up in landfills or incinerators. I’ve made it my mission to solve this problem.
MB: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
AB: Every second, an entire truck full of textiles ends up in a landfill. As most of our clothing is made of synthetic fibres, it cannot biodegrade, and sits around for over 200 years. With the fast fashion industry producing vast amounts of clothing, we now produce 100 billion garments a year, whilst the average lifetime of an item of clothing is falling below 2.5 years.
At this present moment, there is very limited technology available to recycle or up-cycle garments into new fabrics or products. Kleiderly solves this problem with our patent pending solution, turning unwanted textiles into a plastic alternative, hence replacing plastics. Our material can be used to produce anything from clothing hangers to eyewear, creating a truly circular economy.
MB: What is your biggest challenge right now?
AB: Whilst the problem of plastics is well-known, the issues associated with textile waste are yet to be mainstream. Hence we need to do a lot of work around educating consumers and helping them to shift their mindsets to more sustainable, long-term consumption. Kleiderly works on this through our online magazine, where we share knowledge on how end consumers can make a difference in their consumption of fashion.
MB: What is your vision for the future of your business?
AB: If Europe were to incorporate a circular economy, we could halve carbon emissions by 2030. We are at the beginning of this movement. Our vision at Kleiderly is to create a circular fashion industry, whereby everything that is produced has a second, third, and fourth life, continuously being reused and avoiding using new resources.
MB: What is your advice to other leaders who want to combine profit and purpose?
AB: Find your passion. Once you’ve found that, it will be the driving force to keep you going, even through the tough times.
MB – What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
AB – Resilience is the key to success.
MB – Who inspires you?
AB – My parents, who moved to the UK with nothing but gave me everything. I could not be more grateful to them.
MB – How do you define success?
AB – There are multiple elements to this. The first is to make a difference and do something good for the world. The second is to enjoy what I do and not have Sunday blues!
MB – What is something you wish you were better at?
AB- I wish I was more patient.
MB – What is the one book everyone should read?
AB – “Barking Up the Wrong Tree” by Eric Barker
MB – What do you do to relax?
AB- Spend quality time with my loved ones, exercise, travel, and I recently started playing the piano again.
Discover the other MB100 leaders recognised for their work combining profit and purpose to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in 2020, here.
TO JOIN ALINA In THE ‘REGENERATE’ COMMUNITY, OUR WORKING GROUP DEDICATED TO THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY, APPLY TO BECOME A MEMBER OF MEANINGFUL BUSINESS HERE