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Jul 19, 2022

Honors Thesis: Opportunities and Challenges for Implementing Circularity in Textile Production by Cara Kuuskvere

Cara Kuuskvere, BSBA’22, recently graduated and completed an honors thesis with ACES executive director Jeff Mittelstadt as her advisor. We recently spoke with her about her research and how it led to her current role as Sustainability Analyst with HanesBrands.

What was your major/concentration and how did you choose the topic for your thesis?
I double-majored in Business Administration and Environmental Science. I chose to study textile circularity because I have been interested in the environmental impacts of textile production since I learned about its sizeable environmental footprint early on in my college career. I also learned about circularity and thought it was a remarkable idea that has not gained as much traction as it could in sustainability. I wanted to learn more about it and its implementation.

What was the biggest takeaway from your research? What was the biggest surprise?
My biggest takeaway from my research was the importance of collaboration in implementing this kind of resource reuse. Entities must work together–across companies and through the supply chain– to effectively use resources in a way that allows for the re-utilization associated with circularity. I think this is important not just in circularity, but in accomplishing many businesses’ sustainability goals. I found two large surprises– that some companies were very successfully implementing circularity, particularly with their cutting wastes, and the dedication I saw in small business owners that were working towards making their business lower waste. I was surprised at the feasibility that is already seen in circulating cutting scraps, and that with the investment and care, medium-sized to larger companies can very effectively implement this reuse. Further, I had the opportunity to interview several small business owners who had a passion for sustainability. While their resources were limited, it was heartening to see the efforts they were putting into making their business as sustainable as possible and bettering their impact on the environment.

Where are you working now?
I am currently a Sustainability Analyst at HanesBrands corporation in Winston Salem, NC. I assist in managing our company’s energy, water, and waste to work towards our company sustainability goals improving environmental impact across our production and operating facilities.

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