This article will guide you through crucial concepts linked to Zero, or at least Low, Waste Fashion.
We will also highlight the importance of customers’ choices and behaviors to trigger a positive change in fashion design and textile waste.
Additionally, we will share all our tips towards a more sustainable wardrobe by taking a different approach regarding your garments.
We also want to send a special thanks to our invaluable friend Galya, for her insights and expertise.
Zero Waste Clothes And The Fashion Industry
Right now, the fashion design industry is going through a significant transformation.
A large number of brands are seeking ways to avoid the method of produce-use-dispose and focus on closing the loop, for example, through recycling, re-purposing, and reusing each piece of the garment or footwear.
Linear versus circular economy
The concept of circularity or the so-called circular economy is becoming a business priority for some brands. What is it exactly? In a nutshell, as explained by Ellen MacArthur through the website of her foundation:
The linear economy, i.e., the take-make-waste system, has to change. We must better manage our resources, the production and use of each product, and make sure we can transform the materials afterward.
If we could move from a linear to a circular economy, only then can we develop a thriving economy.
And, it will be beneficial for both companies and customers while respecting the limits of our planet.
A circular economy is based on the three essential principles that will avoid wasting resources:
- Designing out waste and pollution: they are therefore seen as a design flaw to be eliminated from the design stage.
- Keeping products and materials in use so that they can be reused, repaired, and remanufactured.
- Regenerating natural systems: everything has a purpose in nature. A circular economy would do the same by not only protecting the environment but also enhancing natural resources.
However, there is still a long way to go, as fashion has been operating on the old method of produce-use-dispose for many years, just like other industries.
The role of the consumer and governments towards Zero Waste clothing is critical so that the fashion industry continues developing in the right direction.
The Importance Of Pattern Cutting To Reduce Waste
Speaking of the importance of Zero Waste Fashion Design, you might be interested to know that there are revolutionary techniques that allow necessary waste reduction during the manufacturing of clothes.
You could name these techniques as Zero Waste pattern cutting: a way for working designers to address pre-consumer waste in the supply chain.
Textile waste is reduced to zero due to maximum fabric usage.
If there is still some waste left during the construction process, it will be used for functional items (facings, button coverings, and bindings or decorations).
The fashion industry has its role to play to reduce clothing waste. Solutions such as enhanced pattern cutting and based on a circular economy are part of the answer. The other part is at the customer level approach: what you (don’t) buy is making a difference towards promoting Zero Waste Fashion.
Customers’ Behavior Is Changing
Yes, this is becoming a reality, especially among the younger generations, and in particular, the Millennials.
Customers care about how the garment is being made, whether the environment is being polluted, and workers are treated fairly.
The most important driver is that the customers are becoming more interested in being INFORMED.
This is key to drive a long-lasting change in consumer behaviors. However, it is essential to note that according to various consumer research reports, price, style, and comfort are still the main driving purchasing factors.
The sustainability aspect of the garment and the footwear comes right after. This is good motivation for brands to embed sustainability, no matter the price range in which they operate.
The journey to Zero Waste Fashion is taking time, but all our choices as customers have a global impact. If we all follow a few eco-friendly behaviors, we will continue to trigger long-lasting changes in fashion design.
How To Make Sustainable Choices For Our Wardrobe
1. KNOW YOUR PRODUCT
First and foremost, the baseline for more sustainable choices for every consumer would be to be interested in knowing more about the piece of garment or footwear:
- The fiber it is made of.
- Where it is produced.
- Which brand has created it.
For example, if you read bad news in a well-known newspaper on a brand severely polluting the environment or mistreating garment workers, next time avoid buying from that brand. This simple choice, if made by others as well, can pass a strong message and will ultimately trigger changes towards a more sustainable fashion globally.
2. THE REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLING APPROACH
How can we prevent wastage garments and contribute to a Zero Waste fashion approach?
- Well, first try to wear your clothes and shoes for longer than a season or two. At Puratium, we are firm believers of “less is more” in clothing: buy high quality, long-lasting garments, in which you will feel comfortable. As explained below, avoid clothes made of plastic materials and opt for recycled textiles.
- Moreover, if you really need to buy something, buy second-hand clothes: online, via Thredup or Vinted, amongst others. Additionally, why not exchange garments with close relatives?
- Lastly, take care of your clothes by washing them at lower temperatures and repairing them whenever possible.
However, if you are a fashion queen/king and this is against your principles, at least try to recycle your old clothes before buying new ones.
There are a number of brands such as H&M, C&A, Zara, that have recycling programs. Thus, you can bring your old clothes and footwear into their stores, and as gratitude, you will receive a discount voucher. Avoiding textile waste is a win-win situation for everyone!
Therefore, take this as an opportunity to go through a ‘cleaning’ of your wardrobe: identity what you like and donate or recycle the rest. If, by doing so, you can save money and use these vouchers for a gift or a piece of clothes you are – indeed – missing, why not? However, be mindful of the pitfalls of fast fashion.
Not sure how to start a Low Waste Wardrobe and be an active member of sustainable fashion? We help you here.
Reliable Eco-friendly Certifications
There are many eco-friendly certifications out there, but we have to be careful because not all of them are credible.
Even though they might not be 100% Zero Waste Fashion ‘certified,’ they give you, nonetheless, a positive indicator for a particular garment or designer.
- For overall sustainability in garment or footwear, including protecting the people and the environment, you should look for Cradle-to-Cradle certification, which ensures that the piece of clothing has been produced responsibly and can be fully recycled. This certification exists for a wide range of products, not only fashion items.
- Bio-cotton (i.e., organic cotton) is another label that we often see on garments, but it does not mean anything if the cotton is not GOTS or OCS certified. Thus, you can look for these abbreviations on the labels; if they are not there, then it is not organic guaranteed.
- Textile Exchange is an international organization focused on promoting credible fiber standards: there, you can see existing fiber certifications for Down, Wool, Mohair, and Polyester.
- Lastly, you should always look for garments that have recycled content, and that is indicated on the label(for example, a t-shirt with 50% recycled polyester). This means that there has been some kind of low waste techniques in the production or design process.
We hope that this overview of Zero Waste Fashion will help you understand what is at stake.
And, most importantly, how you can be part of a beneficial change for our planet. Reducing waste at home is a journey in which your creative mind will be of use! Why not participate or follow a workshop on how to repair garments?
If you have any questions comments, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.