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Zero Waste and the Impact of Fashion on the Environment

A look at an exhibit at Kent State that explores the impact of the fashion industry on the environment.

With Earth Day approaching, I thought it would be a good time to talk about the clothes in our closets. I recently had the opportunity to visit the Kent State Museum of Fashion which had an intriguing exhibit on Sustainable Fashion:  Exploring the Paradox.

What is the paradox? The fashion industry produces clothes which we consume, wash, wear out and discard. Perhaps we consume more than we need or wear simply to update our "fashion." There can be a great deal of waste and impact on the environment throughout this process.

The exhibit explores several aspects of sustainability including:

  • fabrics
  • printing and dying
  • manufacturing/processing
  • recycling/upcycling fabric
  • fair trade

There is also an interesting display on the purchasing, washing and wearing habits of students.

I was struck by two dresses created by Australian Designer Holly McQuillan. She created two fabric panels with the words "War" and "Peace". She then used a technique of zero waste to turn the panels into drapey dresses. You can see other examples of zero waste on this post.

In my business I love to upcycle discarded items into new items. If I buy new fabrics, I pass along the remnants to my daughter who creates new items out of them. It may not be zero waste, but I try to minimize my waste. 

In my closet, I simply try not to buy. We all know we wear about 10% of the clothes in our closets. What are other ways we can minimize waste?

  • upcycle waste into something new
  • sell your scraps on Etsy, Craigslist, Ebay
  • donate clothes and supplies to thrift shops, senior centers, schools
  • buy clothing whose processing has minimal impring on the environment

What about you?  How do you minimize and/or manage your waste?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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