With hundreds of fast fashion retailers coming out with thousands of new items weekly and an estimated 350,000 tonnes of clothing going into landfill in the UK every year, the environment needs a more sustainable method of clothing production.
There are many different sustainable brands out there working against fashion’s waste problem, but you may be wondering what that means and how significant it is in sustainable fashion as a whole. Here’s why zero-waste fashion is so important in today’s industry.
Zero-waste is a term used in many industries to describe the elimination of waste materials throughout the life cycle of a product. However, whereas other no-waste products focus mainly on the use stage, zero-waste fashion focuses on the production process. In zero-waste and circular fashion, garments are designed in such a way as to avoid waste materials through recycling, reuse, and composting of fabrics and other materials.
Zero-waste and circular fashion are significant movements that show us how unnecessary the current fashion industry model is. Zero-waste fashion utilises fewer raw materials and actually saves money in the long run, as waste is a sign of inefficiency and over-expense. Since fashion is always reusable, zero-waste fashion focuses on producing better quality pieces that can be reused and upcycled.
In zero-waste fashion, the main focuses are on the design and production processes. The zero-waste design model has designers focusing on special pattern-cutting processes to reduce or eliminate textile waste, while on the production end, designers reuse excess fabric in other pieces. It’s common for brands to use the remaining fabric leftover from garment production for smaller accessories like headbands or bags.
Beyond creating no new waste, fashion brands can also help reduce existing waste by using materials like leftover deadstock textiles that have been discarded by larger manufacturing factories, upcycled post-consumer materials, or other recycled materials for their collections. A truly zero-waste brand will also use renewable energy throughout its supply chain.
Another aspect important for circular fashion brands to consider is their packaging. Some ways sustainable brands use waste-free packaging are through recycled paper boxes, recycled or compostable polybag mailers, and cloth bags made from upcycled fabric.
By combining low- and zero-waste models, items in the waste stream, or the things we purchase and wear, will be of better quality, making them last longer and be easier to recycle or upcycle than typical fashion pieces. Not only will this help the global waste and climate crisis, but it will also teach consumers that better quality is much more significant than quantity.
Zero-waste may sound like a difficult feat to achieve in the current fashion climate, but many brands and designers are making a massive effort to show that it can be done and that the clothing that comes out of the overall system is of so much better quality. If you’re interested in lessening your own impact, take a look into supporting zero-waste fashion and see what a difference it can make for yourself and the environment.