It is obvious that we must move away from fast fashion and create a more sustainable and positive fashion landscape. However, in practice, the path to sustainable fashion remains ambiguous and difficult to achieve.
We are all aware that the fashion industry generates massive amounts of waste, which has a negative impact on the environment. There is a lot that could be reduced, reused, and recycled when creating garments, from textile scraps and leftover fabric to excess thread and paper waste.
Zero waste fashion isn’t a new material or technology. Instead, it is a new way of thinking — a philosophy that forces designers to question traditional methods. Wasted fabric equals wasted money and a wasted planet, and some astute designers are doing everything they can to not only reduce waste in their production cycle but also to recycle any scraps they may have.
There are two general approaches to zero-waste fashion: creative pattern making, which uses 100 percent of a given material, and upcycling, which involves creating garments from remnant materials.
Technique-wise, it entails fitting all of the flat pieces of your clothing pattern together like a jigsaw puzzle to ensure that no fabric is wasted. Given that approximately 15% of the fabric used in the production of a typical garment is discarded, the cumulative effect of leaving no waste has far-reaching environmental consequences. More than that, zero waste is about inventing beautiful new forms of fashion within those constraints.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of upcycling fashion, it entails repurposing pre-existing clothing, accessories, or other items to create new garments. Consider unraveling old sweaters and refashioning the yarn into new ones, or using scraps of fabric waste from car interiors to make handbags.
Zero waste is not a new concept in some ways. Consumers have had to adopt similar practices throughout history, such as during wartime, when women fashioned new outfits from old ones. Traditional hobbies, such as knitting and quilting, can also be zero-waste activities. The difference now is that it is both an ethical and a practical choice.