Zero Waste Workshop - Offset Warehouse

Hi, my name’s Charlie Ross and I founded an eco textiles company Offset Warehouse six years ago. We source and develop beautiful hand-crafted and ethically produced fabrics from around the world, and sell from one to hundreds of metres at affordable but fair prices. We’re the first company in the UK to sell a broad range of these fabrics exclusively - from hemp, to organic cotton, to recycled polyester, to soy, and more!  

So far this year we’ve organised a collection of networking, shopping and learning evening events, as well as a sewing party, as part of our Green is The New Black: Eco Sewing & Fashion sustainable design community group. Today, we’re delighted to be hosting a full day workshop! In collaboration with Building Bloqs, we’re introducing attendees conceptually and practically to one of the most exciting yet common sensical movements in sustainable fashion…

Zero Waste Workshop

With Offset Warehouse, Franki Campbell, Eve Tokens & Josie Warden

During the event, three incredible zero waste experts, Franki Campbell, Eve Tokens and Josie Warden, guided us through the concept of zero-waste design, getting hands-on with different examples of sustainably made garments and textiles. We were taught easy-to-master techniques to help develop our own cutting edge fashion designs with sustainability and mindfulness at its core. 

‍An example of the zero waste dress we left with on the day. Eve and Franki helped to create and amend the pattern to create a unique design!

We then sewed our very own zero-waste garment, currently featured in People Tree founder, Safia Minney‘s newest book, “Slave to Fashion“, and designed by none other than yours truly (yes, I am very excited about this wonderful opportunity to contribute to Safia’s latest book). With full access to Building BloQs’ new and impressive Textile Studio, a selection of beautiful Offset Warehouse fabrics and two zero-waste sewing experts to guide us, our attendees were fully immersed in sustainable design and left feeling totally inspired. 

The Facts Are Shocking:

As the second most polluting industry, fashion has an immense impact on the environment and on the millions of people who work in it. Our world is facing serious environmental change, affecting all life on the planet.

  • According to the UN if the fashion industry does not change its tactics, by 2030 clean water will no longer be a reachable resource for half the world’s population.
  • Americans still throw away 13 million tons of textiles — about 85 percent of their clothes — each year, accounting for 9 percent of total non-recycled waste.
  • Over the past 10 years, clothing has been the fastest growing waste stream in the UK.
  • Britons are expected to get rid of 680m pieces of clothing as they spring-clean their wardrobes this year, with a staggering 235m of the garments expected to end up in landfill. Consumers will dispose of an average of 19 items, with seven going straight in the bin!

“Zero Waste” has the potential to completely transform the way in which businesses operate, and resource-intensive industries like fashion are at the heart of the debate. Let’s go a bit deeper behind the concept of Zero Waste, to showcase just why we should all be working towards a Zero Waste lifestyle...

What Is Zero Waste?

Zero Waste is a product or process that eliminates waste materials - everything is re-used and nothing is discarded.  The term can be applied to many different industries. Within the fashion industry, a zero waste garment is systematically designed to avoid and eliminate wasting materials so that no textiles are thrown away. “Zero Waste” has the potential to completely transform the way in which businesses operate, and resource-intensive industries like fashion are at the heart of the debate.

Why Zero Waste Fashion Design?

Waste is a major contributor to global warming. Solid waste landfills are the single largest manmade source of methane gas in the United States. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that is 23 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than the most prevalent greenhouse gas—carbon dioxide. For me, Zero Waste is all about addressing waste as a primary root cause of global warming. 

Why Is Global Warming Bad?

  • Places that usually get lots of rain and snowfall will get hotter and drier affecting surrounding vegetation and wildlife.
  • Lakes and rivers will dry up, causing devastation for surrounding habitation, animals and communities that rely on the water source for food and income.
  • More droughts makes growing crops more difficult, resulting in global food shortages.
  • Less water would be available for drinking and cleaning.
  • Plants and animals will become extinct because of the heat not just on land, but in the oceans, as animals are unable to survive the drastic changes in temperature.
  • Hurricanes, tornadoes and other storms which are caused by changes in heat and water evaporation will become more common.
  • Water expands when it’s heated and oceans absorb more heat than land, so sea levels will rise. Sea levels would further rise due to the melting of the glaciers and sea ice. This would clearly reduce the amount of land available in the world, but more importantly would cause mass flooding of cities on coasts.

It’s Not Just About Global Warming

Not only does working in a zero-waste way stop waste from heading to landfill and therefore have a positive impact on global warming, but it also eliminates any toxic particles discharging to the surrounding land, water and air. But there are many more benefits of preventing waste than just supporting sustainability:

  1. Fewer raw materials: Quite simply, a zero waste strategy needs far fewer new raw materials reducing resources, and saving expenses.
  2. Saving money: As well as requiring fewer raw materials, since waste is a sign of inefficiency the reduction of waste can reduce costs.
  3. Faster Progress: A zero waste strategy improves production processes.

In garment manufacture, the processes from raw material to supply contributes around one-third of the waste footprint, three-quarters of the carbon impact and most of the water footprint. Designing garments with this zero waste method in mind, is a huge step forward.

Fashion is not just about the latest ‘it’ bag, but has the power to galvanise change that can influence the lives of millions and have a monumental effect on our planet.

We shouldn’t feel helpless but empowered to educate, inform and act to tailor make the future of the industry we want to see. At Offset Warehouse, we’re all about giving designers the tools they need to decide how they can implement best practices within their work. If you want to incorporate ethically sourced textiles into your work, then have a browse through our beautiful fabric shop. And, if you’d like to be inspired to design strategically, have a read through our blog, join our London-based design group or sign up for our newsletter! We will let you know about exciting new blog posts, discounts and deals on our fabrics, masterclasses, and of course, any future events!

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