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Madison Wright

Madison Wright is the Circular Economy Specialist at Pentatonic. She previously held positions at the World Health Organization and the International Air Transport Association.

In her role at Pentatonic, she leads both engineering and research teams and delivers key innovations for Pentatonic’s top-tier corporate partners.

She also leads research for Hey Fashion which is funded by the Eileen Fisher Foundation (a not-for-profit organization).

Madison holds a Master's degree from Lund University in Environmental Management and Policy and a BA from the University of Washington.

Madison also sits on a focus group for the University of Washington Continuing Education Sustainability course.

Listen to the episode

Tune in to find out about:


  • The beginnings of Madison’s sustainability journey. 
  • Examples of how Pentatonic is assisting companies with the implementation of circular economy initiatives.
  • The proportion of large companies surveyed by Pentatonic that are on track to meet their net zero targets.
  • What really happens to clothes that are donated to charity shops. 
  • Factors that make the fashion industry largely unsustainable.
  • The sharing economy as a more sustainable model for different industries. 
  • Some of the most shocking findings from Madison’s report.
  • What the future holds for Madison, and Pentatonic’s overarching goal.
  • And much more!


S7E6 Audiogram image

Emily Swaddle  00:10

Hello and welcome back to HappyPorch Radio. Welcome to season seven. Today we spoke with Madison Wright from Pentatonic. Pentatonic is a Circular Economy consultancy focusing on product design. They are dedicated to rapidly accelerating the shift to a Circular Economy by helping companies change the way they design, manufacture, sell and recapture product. And we had a great conversation with Madison today, talked about all sorts of aspects of shifting to circularity on very many different levels. We were kind of all over the map, but in a really good way.

Barry O'Kane  00:47

Yeah, I think that reflects both all the work that Madison herself was involved in, but the broad range of work that Pentatonic do as well. And it's kind of a cool theme that is definitely consistent in season seven, is how the people we're speaking to are working at that system change level. So they're working with multiple other organisations or bodies or whatever, had to sort of create that multiplier effect, which is pretty exciting. But also it means that they have a very clear vision on the challenges and the difficulties on the ridiculous wrongs and we've used the word "obscene" when we were talking about fashion waste and I think that's 100% accurate. So I liked the way Madison talked about that, didn't shy away from the negative, but also was able to talk about actions and clearly living that action in terms of the work she's doing as well.

Emily Swaddle  01:34

Yeah, really, like so much positivity sort of radiating from Madison in this conversation, which is wonderful to see when we are talking about things that can face such big challenges and can be an overwhelming amount of work and change and shifts have to take place. Yeah, she had so much energy and passion for it. It was wonderful.

Barry O'Kane  01:53

That's one of the powerful things about thinking about regenerative Circular Economy thinking and how we should be looking at these positives of change the way Kate Raworth talks in Donught Economics about thrive. And the way that more and more people are talking about some of this language and the change you need to make and there's real huge positives by moving in that direction. And we're not moving there fast enough. and all of those things, there's ridiculous problems to overcome. But yet, there's no need to go and live in a cave, because that's the only option. So I think that's really cool. And I also liked, we talked about so many different things, and the different skill sets and the different multidisciplinary teams within Pentatonic doing the work they're doing. And I think that's really important. And a personal sort of theme for me is that, you know, as engineers, or software developers, or any sort of skill, how important it is to take that experience and skill, and get involved in this kind of work.

Emily Swaddle  02:46

And within that diversity we sort of honed in on a specific niche or a smaller niche. It's not really a niche, it's huge, like the fashion industry. But for those of you listening who are interested and intrigued by circularity in the fashion industry, keep listening, because loads of interesting stuff.

Barry O'Kane  03:04

Definitely. And so without any further ado, let's meet Madison.

Madison Wright  03:08

Hi, everyone, my name is Madison Wright, and I am a Circular Economy Specialist at Pentatonic. And I've been working there for about a year and a half now. And Pentatonic is a really cool company and we're focused on essentially a design and tech consultancy, operating within the Circular Economy space. So our main goal is really to help some of the biggest brands, just make Circular Economy initiatives easy for them. So that could be actual product design, that could be decommissioning materials that they've created already. Or just analysing their supply chain. So come at it from all angles, to make it as easy as possible for them. So that's the highlight, the snippet.

Barry O'Kane  03:47

Awesome. Cool. Well, let's dig into that. But first of all, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. It's really good to have you here.

Madison Wright  03:53

Yeah, thanks so much for having me. Great.

Barry O'Kane  03:54

Let's set the scene a little bit. What led you to this point where you're working with Pentatonic and on this kind of mission?

Madison Wright  04:02

Definitely. I mean, I think to me, sustainability really started at such an early age. Gardening with my dad or growing up in Seattle in the US, you're just surrounded by nature all the time. So really wanting to preserve that. But then I also worked at a restaurant and I just saw the massive quantities of waste and thought this is absolutely ridiculous, and, like, we can do better than this. So that kind of drove me to finding this Master's program in Sweden. I really wanted to learn the best and I thought Sweden's the place to go and so I did a Master's in Environmental Management and Policy. And I just really loved researching and reading and really just trying to be a sponge and learn as much as I could about all of these different sectors and, you know, how far we really need to go to be better in every sense of the word with whether it's carbon emissions, whether it's actual, like material recapturing and reuse. And so I think that kind of led me to Pentatonic. Pentatonic is a really small company, it's 30 of us. And we're growing very rapidly as companies, I think, realise, Oh, no, we've made all these commitments. And now we need to actually make sure we have the tools to accomplish them. So I think as we get closer to this 2050, 2030, these huge goals... not goals, but these huge years, these huge milestones that have been set out, I think that brands are starting to pay more and more attention and consumers are as well. So I think that kind of consultancy element where we can get down and dirty in their data and really figure out what's going on. And how we can help them is really exciting. But then also having a really diverse group of team members. We have engineers, we have material engineers, we have designers, we have everyone, kind of coming together from their different sectors to make a product or help inform different procurement teams and things like that. So I liked that part about the company, it was very diverse, and just the people working there, but then as well as different expertise, just so I can learn as much as possible. So I think Pentatonic was just a Win Win as a company. So I'm really lucky to be working there. So an awesome place.

Emily Swaddle  06:07

Thank you, Madison, for sharing your story. Maybe you could also give us a bit of background on how Pentatonic got started, because I think when it began it didn't really look like what it looks like now, right?

Madison Wright  06:18

Definitely. Yeah, one of our first projects that we started with was furniture based. So Starbucks was trying to figure out how they could use their plastic cups and have them not end up in the landfill. So we came together and figured out how to make a chair that could be in one of their cafes. So using that material in a way to make the actual furniture, like, lining and make everything out of one material. Because I think that's one of the really difficult things is you have a  hub or chair, that's 18 different types of plastics. And then it makes it really hard to even disassemble or recycle because you don't know what they're made of. And it's this huge thing, right? So I think that's kind of been our bare-bones of, like, how can we create products that have the end of life in mind. So I think that's kind of starting to become a bigger and bigger thing. But that was kind of where we started was Okay, let's design a hanger out of waste from the fashion industry, let's design a chair made from this waste stream and keep it within this company. So I think that even with Burger King. I think that was one of the coolest things that drew me to Pentatonic actually was in 2019. These two girls in the UK, were just saying this is ridiculous, we don't want all these plastic toys, they just end up in the landfill. And so Pentatonic was able to take apart these little Minions, those little plastic ones. But there are so many different types of plastic and just this tiny little Minion. So then we were able to take that apart, figure out what was actually inside and then melt it down into trays that could be used in more stores. So it was called the meltdown. And it was very exciting. So that's the kind of, I think, really deep understanding of, like, what it takes actually to build products. That is why our consultancy is doing so well, right, because we have that experience of developing an entire supply chain and really figuring out what things are made of and how they can be improved. So I think that really sets us apart in this space. Because we're not just a consultancy, like, we understand the background behind how a product even comes to market in the first place. So I think, yeah, we've come a long way in the last like five years or so. And it's been really exciting to see so many more brands come to us and say, Hey, we saw your work with this project. We'd love to have that similar thing happen with our company and that sort of thing. So we've been in many different sectors like insurance, food and beverage, fashion. So it's been, everyone's really needing our help. So it's great. But yeah, we have a lot of work to do. So we need to get all hands on deck.

Emily Swaddle  08:48

Yeah. So the consultancy stuff, is that something that came sort of secondary to this level of like product design? And what was the motivation to move in the direction of the consultancy work?

Madison Wright  09:01

Yeah, definitely. It's a great question. I think it became just what companies were asking us, right, like they instead of saying, you know, How can we make a product that is super cool?I think that was kind of where they may have entered with our communications. And then we were like, Okay, well, you know, what are your different waste streams? And then they would be unsure. And so then it became Okay, so like, let's analyse that waste stream. Okay, you have a lot of waste coming from here, is there a way we could, instead of having like a seasonal beverage that has the sticker on it, that's like only Winter edition, blah, blah, could be remove that seasonal elements so that you can still continue to sell it and that it doesn't just end up in a warehouse somewhere, or that kind of modular thinking of like, Okay, if you're making furniture, let's make parts that can be swapped in and out, like that kind of thinking. I think it just, it came naturally, really of them wanting a product, but then saying, Okay, we'll do that. But then also, we can help your design teams, we can educate, and really prepare them to make better products in the future so that you don't have this problem. I think people gave us their data and said Help, like, how do we set our goals? How do we achieve our goals? If I think it, just kind of, was a situation that we worked with them in the past? And they're like, Okay, we need to figure this out. Or it's just new clients being like, Hey, like, where do we even start? So I think that just came out of, kind of ,knowing the Ins and Outs of the industry and being able to respond to that. But I think right now, like, we're really investing in the consultancy element, just because it's really exciting to see brands care so much. And so yeah, we're really expanding that part of our business for sure.

Barry O'Kane  10:45

That's really interesting when you say brands care so much. I'm wondering how much of that is new? Or it feels like Oh, there's a thing that's happening in this sort of (unaudiable) as in literally, this year, kind of post COVID kind of feeling? And how much of it is Well, there's a much of sort of, we need to explain this or we need to educate before we can get to the action based part of the consultancy and the product designl.

Madison Wright  11:09

Yeah, I mean, I think it's a really interesting question, because I mean, we just looked at, you know, I think it was like 35, or 34% of the largest companies of the world. And then we were trying to figure out, you know, how many are on track to meet their net zero targets that they had communicated. And I think it was like only 7%, or something, were actually set to hit those targets. So I think there's a lot of really great intentions. And I think we're finding that a lot where brands are coming to us, they're like, We have this, like, really cool sustainability initiative. And then they tell us, and we're like, Oh, okay, like, we want to capture that energy. And we want to put it somewhere else, like, let's just direct that, because it's awesome that there's a team that cares about this, you know, they're trying to do their research. And, you know, they're just not experts in it. And so that's where we come in and say, like, Okay, that's cool, and a great, like marketing strategy, but let's like, make sure that we have the actual data behind that to support that. And a lot of times, it's, like, very minimal, you know, changes. And we want big change, like, as fast as possible, right? So I think it's, it's kind of helping trying to help them pivot in a direction where we're like, Okay, maybe we can cut that out of the supply chain. Or maybe we can make that local or like, let's figure out a decommissioning unit to our, you know, there's different ways. So I think there's really good intention out there. And I think brands are just the differences. I think they're forced to care now, because those targets are out there. And now it's a situation, they put it out there in the universe, but now they need to deliver. And I think, with more and more people caring, and it's becoming more of the norm, to have to be greener and more sustainable. I think that's the difference. Like, I think there's really good intense, but it's just maybe misdirected at this point. And edging towards the green washing, which we obviously want to avoid, because I think people get really excited about certain things. And you're like, okay, but that product is like, glued together, it's like fused together, how can we recycle that? You kind of can't, and like, what does that look like if you're a recycling facility? And is it a niche, material that no one can recycle, or there are just so many things that I think just aren't necessarily in their minds, because they're a marketing team, or they're just trying to help sell their product, and we just want to make sure that it's data behind the statements, I think, is definitely key. Yeah.

Barry O'Kane  13:44

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense and I'm hearing what you're saying. And do you get then or have you seen or do you think there's a kind of a shock factor a little bit like, Hey, we've got this wonderful thing we want to do but then sort of reality hits and you're saying, Okay, well, you know, let's look a little bit deeper here and there's a more systemic, deeper problem or is there a kind of like, what are the barriers that you need to help them push through at that kind of point in the conversation?

Madison Wright  14:06

Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think just an example of, like, the New Balance cap that we did work with. And there were like 18 different materials. And we worked with them to make sure it was mono material, so that it could just all be recycled in one place. And I think that kind of conversation, like, people are definitely open to it. One of our other main projects, how I kind of entered Pentatonic. We did a research paper, it started out being a research paper, and then it became this entire platform called Hey Fashion for the Eileen Fisher Foundation, which was really exciting. So it was just a deep analysis, essentially, into textile waste in the fashion industry and what that looks like. And I think there were just so many conversations that we had with people where it was just, and myself included of, like, where your stuff is actually going, you know, like, when we think about the end of life, and when we're talking to fashion companies, it's like, Okay, you know, where are your products ending up and most of the time, like, I think the common perception is like, Oh, that you donate them to your local charity shop. They're there, that's kind of it, like, that's kind of where you, I mean, you're visually in front of the charity shop, you drop it off, like, that's kind of the end of, like, where you think it's going, right. And I think for me, that was shocking to learn that like 80 to 90% is like being shipped to Ghana, and just in a giant pile. And it's like, there are tons and tons of like, wasted opportunities there. You know, like, they're perfectly good clothes but holes in them are like cigarette butt burns, and you know, people aren't going to use that and the charity shops, they can't do anything with it. So like, we just are outsourcing all of our waste. And I think those conversations are super tough to have, because especially with fashion brands, it's like they're trying to be profitable, obviously, trying to promote, you know, the most sustainable materials and making sure you're designing with the end of life in mind, like all these things are just expensive. So I think those conversations are super difficult, because it's this, you have the intention of doing good, and you want to have repair and resell platforms, but then, you know, if you're pumping out millions of clothing a year, then is that actually helping, you know, in the end? And so I think those are the really tricky conversations of, like, they just have to change their business model essentially, right?  You can't continue this constant outpouring of polyester clothes, and all these other different blends and expect to be a circular company, you know. So that 's, like, those things are really tough, because brands are set in their systems. And it's really tough to change or  you know, if you invest in something that's 10 times the price, but it lasts 100 years versus, you know, a bunch of cheap things you have to replace all the time, those numbers are really hard, because budget is this. And it's for this amount of time. So, like, it's a different department. You know, there's just all these intricacies of companies that are the reality of the situation, the reality of capitalism. And so it's tough, you know, a lot of times, like, they might like the idea of it, and the individual people on the team love it. But the actual implementation element of it is really tricky. It's hard. And yeah, I think that's kind of what we're coming up against is that pressure to achieve your capitalistic goals, but also function in a circular space. So it's really, it's a hard balance.

Emily Swaddle  17:40

You've touched on, like so much and I think what I want to draw out of it is that sort of, like, the levels at which we can make change that you've sort of mentioned, so that thing of, okay, these products can be designed differently, so that they are easier to recycle or more efficient to use, you know, if they're modular or whatever. That's like, a level way at which you can change. And then there's that level of like, Okay, when we're thinking about this, are we thinking about, you know, greenwashing, or are we thinking more in terms of like business models changing etc, you know, like actually having a business system in which we are making sustainable circular change, and then there's that level of, like, hold on a second. Does it matter if our business models have changed? If ,like, this sort of overarching goal in general is still that, like, capitalist strive to just make money by selling lots of products that systems (inaudible) comes up on the top of everything, you know. 

Madison Wright  18:40

Totally and it's interesting, I think within just the fashion space just because we've been looking into resale kind of systems and repairing everything. And I do think there is this kind of movement, we don't mean to consume all the time, always, you know. I think there's kind of with these rental systems in place that are starting to pop up. And I think it's about making it more affordable, right? Like, if we're talking about capitalism, and like, you want to be a sustainable person, you want to purchase the best quality material, it's just 18 times the price, like, it's really tough to do that. But if you have, you know, a rental option that you can have that dress or that jacket, for two days, or like, if it's a special event, you have that dress for two days, versus owning it, I think these, kind of, especially with like Airbnb, Uber, this kind of sharing economy stuff is bubbling up. Like I think there's, I mean, even just myself, like moving to London, like having access to a lot of thrift shops, or you call them charity shops, and things like that, or just like resale platforms, I think just on your phone are super easy to buy secondhand now, and you don't have to necessarily go into a store and buy and buy and buy and buy, you can have that kind of adrenaline kick of owning something new, but it's like preloved,right? So I think that there kind of is this movement to that, I think it's a very slow movement, because the regulations and things I think can help kind of accelerate that. And that is still in motion for a lot of sectors. But I think it's a tricky one, right? Because I think just for fashion, specifically, I just think of like Shein, and all of these massive corporations that just have clothing for two pounds or it's free. I've seen some sales that they have, where it's just essentially free products that they're giving away, like, Okay, people are literally dying. The solid fill elements are ridiculous, but then it's also just the materials like , they've had tests done on them. And they're like, carcinogenic, you know, properties in them that are in, like, baby clothes. And so they're, I mean, these systems are just problematic. And I think people are now like, all these new cycles that are releasing information like, Oh, this is really bad quality, it's actually terrible for your health. It's terrible for the environment, it's terrible for people creating it, I think the more and more we have those kind of stories come to light. And I think people have that initial, like, Oh, no, I don't want to be part of that system. But then I think a lot of times, they don't know where to direct it. I think that's an issue. I feel like even just saying that I'm like, It's not the consumers fault. You know, like, it's not our fault that that's how the system is set up. So that's why brands have so much power. So it's been interesting, like with the Eileen Fisher Foundation and learning about Eileen Fisher, the brand in her takeback system and how she is very careful about not, you know, having seasonal things, she wants the basic pieces that can last forever. I think she's been a very iconic person in the fashion space. And I think she's, you know, really led the way and then a great example of thinking about recycling 10, 15 years ago when it was not popular. So I think that's been really interesting to see. So there are these, like, examples of people and brands doing really great things. But as you said, there's just like the layers to it, because it's like you have a small wind in one direction. And then at the same time, you're like, Ah, like, this is maybe not the best. So there's the constant internal battle I find. I feel like as long as we're pushing in the right direction and trying to get even small wins, even like, one material being replaced or not using glue or a lacquer or something. So you can recycle it like those small wins add up over time, right. So that's what I have to keep in mind, that’s what I tell myself.

Barry O'Kane  22:45

I'd love to come back, by the way, make sure we talk about that work you did in the Hey Fashion. But just a quick observation there, you sound like a really positive person which is awesome. And you're obviously doing work that you're really passionate and care about, which is inspiring, but I wanted to sort of tease out a little bit more about what you said there. So you're talking about these overwhelmingly big, very challenging problems. And it's so important for us not to get lost in the problem, right? So maybe talk a little bit more about what you were saying there about not just the Hey, there's this little incremental things that we can do. But what's your, sort of, driver? What is the thing that keeps you smiling and keeps you excited about, Well, here's the potential, and here's the direction and end-point that I'm actually moving towards?

Madison Wright  23:25

I think it's really very satisfying to meet with the team, and kind of present the data back to them in a way that's, like helpful and beneficial to them. So if we say like, Okay, this is your goal, this is the product that you have, if you changed this, or if you did this small shift, like, that could be this much in carbon savings, or that can help you achieve your goal in this way, or I think it's just that because people want, kind of, just circling back to the beginning. People, I think, genuinely want to do good, and they want to help and give back and you don't want to be working with a brand who is associated all these negative things. And so I think they're people in the company who are trying to find their place and want it to align with their values. So when they hear something like the Burger King thing they're like, Oh, they made trays out of the waste. That's creating that kind of connection. And I think people realising, first of all, you're just not thinking about waste, like you don't think about where your stuff goes after you use it. And so I think being able to kind of show people, first of all, we don't have to have that waste in the first place. We can, like, Let's reuse it in a different way. Or like, Let's keep it in your business. And I think that kind of sparks an excitement in them to see like, Okay, we don't have to waste that. Like, that makes sense. And so I think it's just those little, those kind of Aha moments that you see in people that they get really excited to just learning about what our work is in the space, you know, because it's just kind of becoming a thing that people are noticing and care about. Even when I hear the word waste, like, Oh, that's so cringy. Like just the word itself. It's like, it sounds icky, it sounds bad. You just think of, you know, the rubbish outside. And it smells weird, but like, let's think of that as like a resource. Let's not think of that as waste. And like, seeing the potential in something, I think, is the exciting part to me, and then explaining that to clients, like, let's not waste this, like really beautiful sweater, like, let's give this another life, like someone else might want that, you know, like, let's figure out how to be more of a more community. Because I think, I mean, kind of going back to that sharing economy, like if I don't need a screwdriver, 300 days of the year, but then we can all share that, like, let's do that, let's be more of a community and less of an isolated group that just, I don't know, someone enslaved in, like China for making this item. And then we use it for two seconds and chuck it in the bin like, there's, you know, there's just a better way to do things. But it's hard to stay positive. when you look at all the numbers, to be honest. It's definitely overwhelming. And there are days when I think everyone's like Okay. I think that's probably a big win. 

Emily Swaddle  26:08

For me, one of the places where my heart sinks the most, like, where it's hardest to stay positive is the fashion industry. Because it's something that touches all of our lives in one way or another. And it seems to hold this like, huge amount of power and influence in the world. And yet, you know, the amount of waste, as you said, that comes out of that system is just obscene.

Madison Wright  26:36

I think just exploring, just like the images of these piles of clothing in Ghana. And then speaking, we had a lot of interviews that we did throughout the Hey Fashion paper, just because we really wanted to make sure we were getting, you know, all of our information from the people who are actually in the space. And so you're just listening to their stories of having to pay for these massive bales that they receive before they can even open it. And then they open these huge packages. And then it's essentially just like moldy clothes, or I mean clothes that are just disintegrating. You know, they're not even able to resell them, and they're yet purchasing these for the intention of resale in Ghana, but it's just essentially wasted money because the people shipping them, like, they're not thinking about that person who's at the other end. So I think that was just a really disheartening thing to realise. And I think it definitely shocked me into, you know, there are so many amazing clothes that are secondhand. Why am I spending money on this thing that I might wear for, like, two months? There's absolutely no purpose, I think, just in myself. And I'm not saying that, like everyone has to do that. And it's a bit drastic. But I think at this point for me, I was like, we have to be drastic, like, this is ridiculous. Like, I don't want my stuff that I wore to end up in Ghana, or Chile in the landfill somewhere like this is, especially the stuff they were getting. It was like winter jackets extra triple XL. I mean, this guy who we were interviewing was, like,Ghananians people are not triple XL. It's sunny here all the time. Like, we don't need your winter clothes. Just that kind of his frustration and just his just, oh, he was so, I don't even know the words right now. But like, he was just shocked. I think how people are completely oblivious and completely unaware that this is happening at all. And I mean, I didn't know about it until writing this report. So I think that was kind of something that we tried to do, you know, these Instagram Reels and really have a presence on LinkedIn and just try to get as much information out as possible. I think it's just that shock value of like, you know, think about all the clothes you've had in your life, and where they all end up. And I think even just telling friends about it in the States, and right now, like, I donate,like, I'm doing a good job. I love that. And we should keep donating. We shouldn't not donate, but like, making sure that the clothes are good enough to donate. Pretend that you're giving it to someone else, not just an excuse to, like, get it out of your house. I think there are so many moments of writing that report and just being appalled at the situation and just desperate to like, get people to care and to know about it. Because you're right, Emily, like, people touch this space. Everyone wears clothes. We have to consume to keep ourselves warm in the winter, if we want to go skiing, But like, let's look at renting that jacket instead of owning it. It's just in your closet, these kinds of things, which to me seem like very little adjustments, like, Okay, you just rent it, or you just buy it secondhand, like, easy. But I think when you're in this constant culture of everyone buying things around you all the time, it's hard to not get wrapped up in that. So yeah, it's tough. It's really, really hard stuff.

Emily Swaddle  29:52

You had interviews in Ghana and wrote a whole report. Was it based just on the system in Ghana? Or was it, like, a broader look at things?

Madison Wright  30:03

No, it was very broad, I just thought that was one of my favorite examples, just because that was so shocking to me. So that was one of my favorite things to write about in the report, just because we mostly focused on the environmental factors and not so much on the social elements, just because it was already a massive report. And we wanted to, if we're going to  really go into the social implications of the fashion industry, it would take another report. And you know, more and more and more interviews, so we really wanted to highlight textile recycling, and we touched on resell and different options as well. But I think textile recycling was really the main focus, we really wanted to make sure that if someone is looking at this report for the first time, you know, what textile recyclers already exist in this space? Like, can I go to them, so we have like a whole charge of, like, different recyclers and what they're recycling. So like chemical recyclers versus mechanical recyclers, and then explaining what that means. And then explaining because a lot of people don't know. There are tons of blends in different shirts, that kind of thing. And that makes it really, really hard to recycle. Again, kind of going back to that education, like if you're a designer, and you're coming to the space and you just want to design cool things, like, Let's design it with just cotton or cotton polyester, because that's easy to chemically recycle or mechanically recycle. So just kind of walking through that. We tackled a lot in this paper. It was, you know, how do we help brands, how do we help designers? How do we help if you're in government, what are some of the regulations that are already out there? We really wanted this to be a space for everyone to come to and just be like, I'm a consumer, what can I do? Or I'm a designer, what can I do? Or I'm in policy, what are examples that I can look at to really kind of improve this space. So we tried to interview government officials and just nonprofits that are doing really great work and then the textile recyclers as well. So that was super exciting to just, like, sit down with them for an hour and just learn about shipments they've gotten and how it's super hard to be a textile recycler, because you have so many upfront initial costs. And I think now you're starting to get movements where brands are starting to reach out to them. And that's great. But it just takes a lot to make a recycling plant and think the energy and focus hasn't necessarily been on textile recyclers. So we're trying to shed a light on, like, all the good and hard work that they're doing. Because we really need them, there are so many things we need to do that they can help get us out of this mess of it. So we're trying to help them have some of the spotlight.

Barry O'Kane  32:31

I really like what you're describing. The sort of very broad systemic look at all the different moving parts, including what you're just saying. And so you talked about the report, like sort of an output, but you're also talking about a place where people can go and see actions and so on. And it's published online, right? So do you want to share a little bit about what that is?

Madison Wright  32:46

Yeah, so there's a website that we have. So it's And that's where you can download the report. But then it's also a space that we have and we're constantly adding things to it just based on feedback. So we really want it to be a living, breathing website, where people can go and check new headlines of different textile recycling headlines, or different investments and things like that.  We're continually updating it. So it's not you just go for the report, I think we really want to, I think we're going to try to add some new tabs on there. So keep an eye out. I don't want to spoil the fun. I would recommend visiting the website frequently, because we do have a lot of cool things. So we're going to add, so stay tuned. It's supposed to be a space where it's just for anyone and everyone to go to, and learn more about the issue, but also inform to hopefully be a changemaker in your space. Because, I mean, we've been doing a lot of talks like it was in Istanbul for a Sustainability Talk. And it was just like, looking around the people in this room, like, these people are making clothes every day. And if they took a couple of these principles that we suggested in the report and applied them, that could be substantial change. So it's really exciting. I think there's a hunger for this. And I think more and more brands are starting to look into this and really think seriously about circularity within their business. It's definitely those tricky spots with like, Okay, do we revolutionise our entire brand and stop producing as much, essentially, because that's elephant in the room, like you can be the best brand to produce the best quality things. But at the end of the day, if you're still producing massive quantities of things, that doesn't help keep things out of the landfill. 

Barry O'Kane  34:25

Yes, totally. You touched earlier, you sort of shied away from using the word drastic change. And I think that you should unashamedly own that. And the kind of work with that and Hey Fashion and the work that Pentatonic does. It really is a powerful multiplier for change, right? And the only way we're going to get that change is by adding up all those little things to much larger systemic change. We're kind of running out of time, there's one sort of comment I wanted to make. And then a final couple of questions, unfortunately. But early in the conversation, you also mentioned the sort of broad range of skills and Pentatonic, you're talking about engineers and materials science and research and the work you're doing and everything and the product, which sounds like a really important and powerful broad skill set and types of people. And again, because we're thinking about systemic change, and from my point of view, that's a really important aspect. Like we come at this from a software technology angle myself. And so being able to say all these skills aren't in isolation, we don't work in our own little bubbles. But those skills can be really important when applied in the right place, and as part of the right change. So I'd love to explore that more. But as I said we're starting to run out of time. So final question for you.  Given the work and the Hey Fashion has gone Live and the work that you're doing, what's the next big and exciting things that you'd like to share? And then as part of that, for people who want to connect with you or find out more about Pentatonic, where do they go?

Madison Wright  35:38

Definitely. I mean, I think on that last point we are in a period of growth. So if you're interested in working for us, send a CV or URL is just We'd love to hear from you. And you can find me on LinkedIn. And my email is [email protected]. Any questions happy to answer them. I think next for me,it's been really exciting to see more and more clients come on board. And right now I'm doing a lot of just project management. And making sure that we're on track with all our different projects, because we have a good mix of product design, as well as just like consultancy, as we talked about. So what's next, I mean, there are going to be a lot of different products kind of coming onto the market in the next two to three years. So I think, that's kind of, where my head's at is just the product side. And my background's mainly been research. And so it's a very new space for me. So that  part of what I love about this company is just, you're kind of thrown into all sorts of things. And you might not know everything about it, but you better do your research and figure out, I mean, most of my days just figuring out, you know, new materials that our material engineer is telling me about and you know, what applications can they fit best in? And how can we kind of scale these things and show brands and get them on board and get them excited about how it can apply in their cases? It's mostly going to be product design for me, which is exciting, because again, that's working with engineers and understanding, like, the melting point of glass, and I am not a chemist, so trying to figure out all of that good stuff is really keeping me on my toes. That's been exciting. I love that element of kind of not knowing. Like every client brings a new project and the new industry, it seems, so it's a lot of learning for me. There's another report on the horizon, I would absolutely love that, too. And Hey Fashion just really consumed my life for a long time. And I think it was super interesting. Just getting into the nitty gritty details of it. Really feeling like an expert at the end which is really great. I didn't know that that was where my career was going to take me. So I don't consider myself like a fashionista or anything. So it was fun to chat with our fashion designers and learn from them as well. So, we'll see. Stay tuned. Check the website, who knows, I might add another report. We'll see.

Barry O'Kane  37:57

Brilliant, brilliant, both challenging and exciting and inspiring. Just for people listening Pentatonic is P E N T A T O N I And Hey fashion H E Y Please check them out, as usual, we'll put all the links into the Show Notes. Thank you so much for joining us today, Madison ,really appreciate you sharing all of that.

Madison Wright  38:14

Of course, it was an honor to be here, guys. Thanks for inviting me,I really appreciate it. Super fun.

Emily Swaddle  38:19

Thank you, Madison. 

Emily Swaddle  38:23

Thank you for listening to this episode of HappyPorch Radio. You can find past episodes, transcripts and show notes at You can also get in touch with us there and let us know what you think or if you have any ideas or comments. Please rate the podcast, share and subscribe so that more people can find the show.

Barry O'Kane  38:39

Thanks for listening. My name is Barry O'Kane. I founded HappyPorch who fund and support this podcast. At HappyPorch we do technology and software development for purpose led businesses and we're particularly excited about the role of digital as an enabler for the Circular Economy. If you're working on solutions to the big problems we face today, problems like climate change, biodiversity loss and global inequality then let's connect,visit and get in touch.

Emily Swaddle  39:00

And I'm Emily Swaddle, podcaster coach, facilitator and storyteller. You can find me on my other podcast, the Carbon Removal Show, and you can find out more about that project and everything else I do at where you can also subscribe to my Newsletter All about Rest. If you're interested in anything I do, feel free to connect. You can email me on [email protected]