Our Feature Articles highlight the inspiring work of community-based partners, green organisations, activists, and thought leaders. Explore their stories, initiatives, and the impact they’ve had on shaping a sustainable future for Kenya. These features celebrate the contributions of those who are at the forefront of positive change in our communities and beyond.
Close the Loop for Fashion for Good
—An Exclusive Interview with Yinling Tan
Featuring Singapore’s environmental advocacy and innovation, Singapore Green Guardians (SGG) had the privilege of having an insightful conversation with Yinling Tan, the co-founder of Cloop. In this interview, Yinling shared her journey to circular fashion and the origin story of Cloop, a circular fashion enterprise focused on reducing fashion overconsumption and helping consumers close the textile loop with solutions for unwanted textiles and sustainable shopping alternatives.
SGG: How did it all start for you, Yinling?
Yinling: During my time studying in the UK, I found myself ensnared in the world of online shopping, accumulating a room full of unworn clothes I didn’t need.
In 2019, upon completing my degree in Environmental Science and returning to Singapore, I enrolled in a two-month zero-waste boot camp run by Secondsguru. Our final project, coincidentally, delved into the waste produced by the clothing industry, and the findings were shocking:
- The fashion industry consumes a staggering 93 million litres of water. For perspective, the water used to produce a simple pair of jeans (3,781 litres) could sustain an individual for five and a half years.
- The industry also contributes to 8% of the global carbon emissions every year, which is almost as much as all the international flights and shipping combined.
- Fabric manufacturing accounts for 20% of worldwide wastewater.
- 87% of the total fibre used to make clothes ends up incinerated or in landfills. (Quantis, 2018)
These eye-opening facts led me to reflect on my shopping habits, sparking a personal redemption arc and a commitment to champion sustainable fashion.
SGG: What did you do?
Yinling: I started to run swap events and eco-conscious campaigns. In 2020, I met my now business partner Jasmine Tuan, and we founded Cloop. Our mission is to close the loop for fashion for good. Yet, we soon realised clothes swapping had limitations—80% of donated clothes we received couldn’t be resold or swapped. Since Singapore doesn’t have its own textile recycling facility, it is difficult to track the actual textile recycling rate.
To address this, in March 2022, we collaborated with Life Line Clothing, a Malaysia-based textile recycler. Their facility collects, sorts, upcycles, and downcycles textile materials, providing a second life for textile waste.
Photo: Life Line Clothing
In July 2022, the first textile recycling bin in Singapore was launched, and a year later, we have more than 370 bins citywide and counting.
SGG: How much textile waste do you collect?
Yinling: Weekly, we collect up to 50 tonnes of textile waste, yet this represents only 1% of the total waste generated. Our goal is to install 600 bins across Singapore, doubling our textile waste recycling capacity.
SGG: What other initiatives does Cloop have?
Yinling: Recognizing recycling as a last resort, we stress the importance of rethinking clothing purchases, advocating for waste reduction through swapping, second-hand shopping, and upcycling old textiles.
To foster awareness and behavioural change, we conduct upcycling workshops and deliver talks to corporates and schools. With six pop-up thrift stores and regular swap events, we provide avenues for those aiming to embrace sustainable fashion. To stay updated on our events, you can follow us @cloop.sg on Instagram.
SGG: What’s the next step for Cloop?
Yinling: Another initiative is to assist corporates in reducing textile waste through Life Line Clothing’s Upcycle4Better programme. By upcycling old textiles like company uniforms and bed linens into new products—tote bags, pouches, and cleaning cloths—we aim to help organizations achieve their sustainability goals while creating community-based job opportunities for designers and sewers.