The apparel industry is an extremely wasteful one, in which natural resources— water, cotton, silk, petrol, and energy— are used at alarming and unsustainable rates with unacceptable environmental consequences.
Founders Angela and Chloe literally tripped their way through the fashion waste problem.
While working IN NEW YORK CITY'S GARMENT DISTRICT AT DIFFERENT CLOTHING BRANDS MANUFACTURing IN THE AREA, Bronza and Guss became increasingly frustrated with the amount of waste being produced while making their clothes. ANGELA COMES FROM A FASHION DESIGN BACKGROUND WHILE CHLOE HAS WORKED WITH MAKERS AND BRANDS ALL OVER THE WORLD- EVEN CREATING HER OWN SMALL SHIRTING BUSINESS. THE DUO MET GETTING THEIR MASTERS DEGREES AT PARSONS SCHOOL OF DESIGN AND JOINED FORCES TO TACKLE A PROBLEM THAT HAD BOTHERED BOTH OF THEM FOR YEARS: PRE-CONSUMER TEXTILE WASTE.
Knowing firsthand that the factory throws away up to 30% of the fabric in pieces that are small or oddly shaped when cutting a garment (see below illustrations), they knew there must be a responsible way to handle the scrap material. It is often too difficult or time consuming for designers and factories to figure out how to use the leftover fabric, so it is simply thrown into the garbage and hauled to the landfills. This textile waste is clean and consolidated, making it far easier to collect than individual consumer's unwanted clothing. Manufacturers often told Angela and Chloe that they would prefer to recycle the fabric but don’t have the resources to coordinate themselves. Threadcycle provides an easy collection method for factories to remove the textile waste while the fashion industry and NYC community will benefit greatly. Recycling textiles saves landfill space, reduces greenhouse gases, and reduces the heavy burden on the earth to produce an ever-increasing amount of new material yearly.
Textile Waste in NYC
New York City throws away 386,000 tons of textile waste a year, taking up 5-6% of our landfill space.
85% of textile waste is thrown into the garbage nationwide, 100% of which is recyclable when properly handled.
New York City has set a goal to achieve 0% waste going to landfills by year 2030, in order to reach that goal we must address textile waste at the beginning of the supply chain, not just that of consumers. Most efforts addressing textile waste are only aimed at post-consumer goods (like used clothing), not businesses such as manufacturers and designers with raw material waste. This is what we would like to change.
Where is the Waste?
It is considered industry standard to waste around 15%-30% of the total fabric USED to make a garment.
This part is currently THROWN AWAY.
Fiber waste is created in nearly every major step in the textile and garment making process. Depending on the size of the clothing design, more or less fabric may be wasted. While there are machines developed for knitwear that are zero-waste, the nature of weaving makes this more difficult and increases the production time greatly. It is acceptable in the fashion industry to waste 15% of the fabric during the cutting process.
To reduce this wastage is particularly difficult for small businesses. The larger the number of units needed to be cut, the more flexibility a grader (the person who makes the pattern piece layout) and the cutter have to squeeze pieces together. For a business only cutting under 100 of a certain style or size, there is very little a business can do to reduce the waste below the 15% standard.
Also, larger companies may be able to source fabrics that are the ideal width for their patterns, while smaller designers are at the mercy of what is available or standard in the textile marketplace.
How Can it be Recycled?
CURRENTLY MOST METHODS OF RECYCLING process FINISHED FABRICS back down to fibers, similar to how they begin
Garments that have been collected are generally first sorted to pull out any wearable items. Any wearable items that are not sold in resale stores in a timely manner are wrapped in large bales and exported into developing countries. The remaining soiled and damaged garments as well as scrap fabrics that are not suitable for sale or export are then sorted and processed into new fibers.
The process to recycle differs depending on the textile content. Below are the major steps in the recycling of cotton and polyester fibers. Some textiles are processed in mixed fiber contents for use in sound proofing materials, padding, or stuffing.