WASTE NOT
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Trending: Upcycled Clothing Line, Hong Kong Exhibit Aiming to Combat Waste in Fashion

Image credit: Redress

With ever-changing fashion trends, cheap and disposable clothing creates heaping piles of landfill trash around the world. Two recent developments in the fashion industry — an art exhibit and a recycled clothing line — aim to spread awareness of and combat this mounting problem.

Waste on Display

First, a new art installation in Hong Kong by eco-friendly fashion NGO Redress illustrates the enormity of clothing waste and the associated environmental impacts. Made from 360 kg of discarded clothing, the YWASTE? exhibit represents the amount of textiles dumped into Hong Kong landfills every two minutes — 10,800 kg, or nearly 800 lbs an hour!

“Clothing and textile waste rates around the world are now at horrific levels, which we need tackle urgently, said Christina Dean, founder of Redress. “We are now buying and treating clothes like disposable goods. When we consume so much, we tend to dispose of more and this unpalatable pattern of clothing waste, which we see in Hong Kong and elsewhere in the world, is creating vast negative environmental and social impacts.”

YWASTE? provokes consumers to question their relationship to clothes, providing information on waste issues and advice on creating change through individuals’ wardrobe choices. Three tips on minimizing clothing waste include:

  1. Stop buying “fast fashion,” which has enormous environmental and social impacts
  2. Learn to mend clothing by sewing buttons or fixing seam tears, instead of throwing away clothes
  3. Ask your municipality to provide clothing recycling bins, or donate unwanted clothing to your nearest charity.

The exhibit, running July 7-20, also includes DIY fashion workshops and educational talks open to the public. All clothes within the exhibit will be donated to local charities in Hong Kong.

New Clothing Line Made from Abandoned Fish Nets

Meanwhile, your next shirt could be made from ocean trash. That is, if you buy it from Outerknown, the new menswear apparel line from World Champion surfer Kelly Slater.

In a partnership announced today, Outerknown will incorporate ECONYL® — a nylon fabric created from reclaimed fishing nets and other nylon waste materials — into its debut collection. ECONYL, made by leading synthetic fiber supplier Aquafil, can be recycled an infinite number of times without any loss in quality, according to the company.

Aquafil’s partnership with Outerknown arose from a common interest in conservation.

“Our partnership with Outerknown was born out of a shared vision and ambition for sustainable change,” said Giulio Bonazzi, CEO of Aquafil. “Outerknown came to us with the goal of manufacturing nylon products that were not only made entirely of regenerated materials, but that would be endlessly regenerative without any loss in quality. This goes beyond the typical use of recycled materials and puts Outerknown on the cutting edge of sustainable fashion.”

Outerknown’s debut collection features the “Evolution Series” jackets and boardshorts made with ECONYL brand regenerated nylon fabric yarns. Slater says he started Outerknown to influence the way clothing is produced, and ECONYL fibers provide that opportunity.

“Because of my passion for ocean conservation, ECONYL is the ideal partner for us, not only are they rewriting the rule book for producing man-made fibers, but they are cleaning up the world’s oceans at the same time,” he said. “Making products in this way is the very reason why I started Outerknown.”

Fashion Forward

The launch of Outerknown and the YWASTE? exhibit add to numerous efforts in the fashion community for more sustainable clothing and recycled textiles. In April, the second annual Fashion Revolution Day gathered people across 66 countries calling for more transparency across the apparel industry’s value chains. In May, Eco Fashion Week gathered leading brands that are transforming the fashion industry, including H&M’s Conscious Collection.

And the surfing community continues to inspire sustainable products and practices. In April, the adidas Group announced a partnership with Parley for the Oceans, an initiative raising awareness about the beauty and fragility of the oceans. adidas recently released the first footwear concept born from the collaboration: a running shoe made from upcycled ocean waste. Last month at SB’15 San Diego, representatives from the sustainable surf movement discussed system-wide changes that are needed to drive sustainability in their industry. And enterprising students are creating solutions of their own, such as the first surfboard made from algae oil.


Brynn is an Insight Development Associate and a principal writer for Sustainable Brands.

[Read more about Brynn McNally]


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