Zero Waste Fashion Brands & Why We Need More of Them

Zero Waste

There is quite a buzz around the idea of recycled fabric and new sustainable fashion brands in the recent years. And yes, the new sustainable fashion brands should get all the buzz, since they are fixing the system and industry. These sustainable fashion brands includes zero waste fashion brands. Fashion brands that embraces the concept of zero waste and make an effort to create the least amount of waste or zero waste in production. These zero waste fashion brands are the shining stars as they are conscious of their affects on the environment and trying to make a different. We nee more zero waste fashion brands and overall sustainable fashion brands. Keep on reading to find out more about zero waste fashion brands and why we need more of them.

Zero Waste Fashion Brands

Zero waste has taken the online world by storm after Bea Johnson published her book A Zero Waste Home in 2013, which took the concept of zero waste up until then only employed by businesses and governmental organisation and brought it into everyone’s life.

Since then, the demand for products which create no waste has only been growing. Along with that, fashion brands have started experimenting with more and more solutions to create a zero waste fashion system where no ways would be created – on the contrary, it could be prevented. Zero waste fashion is not a certification such as Fairtrade or even a technology: it is a way of thinking through the whole design and manufacturing process – a philosophy which drives the use of selected techniques.

In today’s article, let’s have a look at how exactly fashion brands achieve this ideal of zero waste – and why we need more companies who think like this.

Zero Waste: Upcycling

Perhaps most frequently, the step we see most zero waste fashion brands take is the use of salvage or used materials. Some brands may use end-of-roll fabrics, which large fashion brands would throw away unused. Others might save used denim from being thrown away and create their garments from it. Another brand might take used wool sweaters, unravel the yarn, and craft a new sweater.

In our consumer culture, we throw away so much clothing that it seems unlikely we’ll run out of materials and used clothing these brands could upcycle anytime soon.
Beware, though, of mainstream companies creating, for example, shoes or clothing from plastic bottles. While the decision to make this change is certainly welcome and does help the environment in some way, most often, these are brands that are far from zero waste and don’t even near the definition of sustainable or ethical – except for one or two products. Research what else a brand is doing to be zero waste before you buy!

A zero waste design

Designer for zero waste fashion brands
A big part of creating zero waste fashion is being clever with the way fabrics are cut and sewn together. When a typical garment is made, about 15% of the fabric is wasted because it’s not cut effectively enough, and wastage is not considered in the design process. Zero waste fashion brands, on the other hand, use specific techniques and materials which allow them to reduce this percentage significantly – all the way to zero!

How is this done? It involves designing the garment in a way where all the pieces needed to make it fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. No cut-off fabric has to be thrown away and every single inch is being used.

It is time for more companies to start considering fabric wastage through the design process because this practice still seems to be quite rare and limited to sustainable brands with a specific zero waste mission.

Repair systems

Repairing whatever is broken is a big part of the zero waste philosophy, which is also why it’s becoming more popular amongst fashion brands striving for the waste-free ideal. How this is done depends on the brand, but most often brands which offer free lifetime repairs will ask you to take photos of the damage and then direct you to send the garment to their repair facility. The shipping is on you, but you pay nothing for the repair.

That way, you can be sure that if you buy something from a brand, it will truly last you for years or decades. It is also worth to note that it’s best to buy items with free repairs from brands local to your area – not only will you save on shipping fees if you need to have your garment repaired, you’ll also lower your carbon footprint.

Possible Zero Waste Fashion Brand Idea: Re-sale

But what if a piece of clothing no longer fits you? Zero waste fashion brands also have a solution for that. Often, they’ll take any used clothing back and resell it for a lower price, while giving you a discount on any replacement in a different size you may need. Our bodies are changing throughout our lives and sometimes, we aren’t able to keep clothing for years because it simply does not fit us anymore.
While usually, we may throw these clothes into a donation bin or even worse, send them straight to landfill (and by the way, most donated clothing ends up in the landfill anyway), this gives us a chance to give them another life while also getting a discount for a new piece!
This way, if you’re someone with a smaller budget, you’ll appreciate the ability to buy discounted pre-loved pieces instead of new from the brand – saving the environment while you’re doing it.

Zero Waste Packaging For Fashion

Zero waste fashion option one recycled fabric
A lot of the most problematic waste accumulating in our landfills and ocean is single-use packaging. Making it sustainable is, therefore, not just a mission of zero waste brands, but just about any sustainable fashion brand out there. You’ll rarely find plastic packaging in a parcel from a zero waste fashion brand and if you do, it’s always because it would otherwise be sent straight to landfill.
Many zero waste brands also pledge not to buy new packaging and instead collaborate with other companies who might have unused packaging or materials that can be reused. This is another wonderful way to make use of what would otherwise become waste and give it a new purpose.
One amazing innovation from recent years is the increasing use of returnable packaging. However, there are many logistical problems for brands to figure out and sometimes, returning packaging may be more unsustainable than throwing it away – if it would have to travel over long distances to get back to the brand.

Let’s Go Fashion brands

With all these amazing ideas for zero waste fashion brands, let’s hope that some fashion brands will be inspired to become zero waste. In fact, many fashion brands are already using these zero waste systems. Which is truly amazing! You’ll be surprised by the different and wide range of different zero waste fashion brands avaliable.

“Council for Textile Recycling.” Council for Textile Recycling. Web. 28 Oct. 2020.
Johnson, Bea. “Home.” Zero Waste Home. Web. 28 Oct. 2020.
Author: Monica Chang
On my own ethical journey since 2010. Always happy to learn more!