You may be showing off your bamboo couture skirt and feeling pretty green. While the fabric may be the stuff eco dreams are made of, did you stop to think about the amount of unused material that was wasted and now resides—with all its eco glory, on the top of a dump?
It's not just eco-unconscious designers contributing to the pollution of the planet in the manufacturing of their prized fashions. The latest eco-innovation circulating within the environmentally-minded fashion industry is Zero Waste Fashion. It's a concept that is being mainstreamed thanks to shows like "Project Runway" that challenged their designers to create a Zero Waste outfit.
What is Zero Waste Fashion?
Zero Waste is a concept that crosses many industry lines-- from food to fashion. When it comes to your clothes, it is a way of constructing garments without wasting fabric. The fact is that an average of 15% of all fabrics used in the production of our favorite clothes (both eco and conventional) is tossed like old socks. From pattern-cutting to unused edging, the clothing industry is responsible for a lot of waste. Zero Waste fashion challenges designers to think about fabric as a coveted commodity and use it sparingly-- scraps and all. In other words, the patterns are more carefully crafted to minimize excess fabric being snipped off. The fabric that does end up on the cutting room floor is fashioned into usable embellishments and details instead of landing in a dumpster.
To understand the life cycle of your favorite skirt (hemp or not), take note:
Who's the Worst Waster?
Cutters are often charged with being the worst wasters. But the cycle, mind you, starts with the designer who conceptualizes the pattern's cut requirements, leaving the cutter no choice but to follow on the dotted lines. Sure, the creative process contributes to some of the discarded samples, but the real waste lies in the lack of organization and sloppy pattern designs.
Thankfully, some designers are putting a little forethought into the final pattern preparation stage to help waste less fabric—a few extra minutes of planning that's helping make less of an environmental mess while saving the fashion house money (lest you forget that wasted fabric, means more fabric that must be bought—which is expensive).
How to Make your own Zero Waste Fashions
The salvation Army and Goodwill don't take just any article of clothing. Holes and excessive ware or stains often deem certain items unsaleable leaving you little option than to dump your denied sweaters and jeans with the hole in the butt. Or so you thought... Instead of tossing your once-favorite fashions, here are a few ways to turn your trash to treasure:
- Salvage the details—like buttons, lace, and ornamental fabrics, and sew them on to an otherwise blah shirt.
- For jeans that are too frayed in the knees for wear, you can cut them into jean shorts or open the legs and crotch at the seams and sew them into a short jean skirt.
- Old raggedy t-shirts make the best cleaning clothes that won't scratch.
- Send your old duds to Art of Shade where designer Kayce Armstrong constructs seriously gorgeous, individualized eco-couture dresses out of any old article of clothing, fashion, even vintage fabric home decor.
Now the question arises: When it comes to eco fashion, who is considered the greenest? The "eco" designer who haphazardly dumps half their organic/hemp/bamboo fabric? Or the "conventional" designer who scrupulously fabricates each garment from zero-waste patterns, salvaging every bit of last season's cashmere/wool/cotton scrap?
This one's for you to chew and comment....