Designers Are Trying to Recycle the Textile Industry’s Waste

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Do you know the textile industry is the second largest polluter in our planet? It’s horrible, right?

Camille Ann Brewer, curator of contemporary art at the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum, said “There’s waste at every step of the textile manufacturing process,” Brewer continued, “Yarn production, weaving, the cutting out of patterns, irregulars that are tossed aside that don’t quite meet quality control — all of this textile cloth ends up somewhere, and where does it end up? In the landfill.”

The fashion industry not only produces trendy clothing, accessory, shoes and bags, it also manufactures maximum waste especially for some inexpensive items. Brewer revealed, “Since [the year] 2000, our garment consumption has doubled. Young women are going out, buying something that’s inexpensive, that you can wear two or three times, and then it falls apart and is discarded.”

Focusing on this phenomenon and trying to improve the situation, some designers now are exploring eco-friendly ways to produce clothes which are made of recycled materials. Sustainable production methods created by designer Luisa Cevese, Reiko Sudo and Christina Kim are displayed at The Textile Museum, the exhibit “Scraps: Fashion, Textiles and Creative Reuse” attracts a lot of visitors from September 2.

Brewer said, “She (designer Luisa Cevese) cleaned up the factory floor, cut up the remnants and sandwiched them between polyurethane sheets and fused them together and has created handbags and other fashion products.” Cevese is using a unique way to deal with unwanted materials, which saves a lot of resources and benefits the industry. Designer Sudo is collecting discarded kibiso while Kim is recycling scraps from weaving process.

“In the fashion industry, about 15 percent of the material is considered [waste] and is built into the process as waste,” Brewer said and referred to Kim, “[Kim] saves everything. She’s come down to 2 percent waste; her goal is 0 percent waste.”

Everyone can be engaged in actions as we choose our garments featuring different materials and production methods. Brewer added, “I hope people come out to see these creative solutions to a major problem that we have, globally…The snowball effect will happen when the consumers ask for [something] different in the marketplace. And until that happens, we’ll continue to see the large volume of textiles produced.”

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