Having been passionate about sustainability from a young age, Alina graduated as a Chemical Engineer with a 1st class Masters, and went on to work in the sustainability and energy sectors. She has 8+ years of experience in consulting firms and the design of industrial factories converting waste into biofuels. She has also worked with carbon footprint calculations and analysis. Currently Alina is the founder and CEO of her startup, Kleiderly, working to solve the problem of textile waste.
When did you fall in love with what you do and how did you get started?
I have always been passionate about sustainability. At the age of 14, I first learnt about climate change and started reading more about environmental issues. In 2018, I travelled to Tanzania and experienced the impact of clothing waste. After continuous research I realised that 87% of all material used for clothing ends up as waste in landfills and incinerators, producing large amounts of CO2 emissions, I decided to take action and this is when I founded Kleiderly to combine my two passions about sustainability and circular fashion.
What was your earliest childhood ambition?
As a ten year old I wanted to be an astronaut, as I was extremely interested in outer space. This dream quickly changed when I had the chance to eat the food astronauts indulge in, and realised it wasn’t for me!
Who was or still is your mentor?
I have been lucky enough to have had many mentors throughout my education and then later on in my career. My parents have always been extremely supportive mentors, guiding me and always available to listen. I’ve had great lecturers support me during university, and then during my career I have gained many great mentors and advisors with such great experience. Speaking to them regularly is what helps me through the journey of startup life.
What difference are you striving to make in the world? (big or small, it all counts!)
With 100 billion garments being produced every year, and 87% of all material used for clothing goes to landfills and incinerators, , I started thinking of ways to put an end to this. Around 6kg of CO2 are produced per kg of plastic. Therefore I decided to solve two environmental problems with one solution: gathering clothing waste and converting it into an alternative to crude oil based plastic.
The possibilities on a product level are endless. We can produce anything from coat hangers to chairs, to plant pots. Since we serve values as recycling, upcycling and circular economy, we have also made it our mission to educate consumers upon these matters, as we realised there little information available. We are using our social media channels and blog posts, touching ground on environmental, societal and business matters and regulations.
What drives you on?
Doing something good for the world is what drives me. After seeing first hand the impact of textile waste on charities and developing countries, as well as the issues associated with overconsumption, I wanted to use my knowledge of Chemical Engineering to solve this problem.
This is my driving force: the fact that I am developing a business that contributes to the protection of the environment, that puts people and the planet ahead of profit.
What does success mean to you?
Making a positive change in the world.
What career advice would you give your 16yr old self?
Do not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and grow. When you push your boundaries you will realise what you are capable of.
What's on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?
Lots of hard work to make a difference in the fashion and plastics industry.
If there was one-piece advice you could give to people aspiring to do what you do, what would it be?
Find your ‘why’, or your passion, and follow it through. It will give you strength during the rollercoaster journey that is founding a startup