You have probably been reading in the press about the waste that the fashion industry is producing. The facts are brutal: fashion is the world’s second-most polluting industry and textile production contributes more to climate change than shipping and aviation combined.
In the UK alone, a million tons of clothing are sent to landfill every year!
Vivienne Westwood, doyenne of British designers and a lifelong activist, said at the end of 2019 that she would cut the size of her collections in half, in order to reduce waste, and would use only recycled denim to make jeans. “I could earn more money, but I want to limit myself instead of expanding,” she said. “Buy less, choose well and sustain.” Great advice!
Online services are helping to fulfil the need to reduce waste. Among them, GirlMeetsDress is spearheading a small revolution in designer clothing rental, and The RealReal is the best possible incentive never to throw away a good outfit again.
Perhaps surprisingly, clothes hangers are a huge polluter: it’s estimated that 100 billion plastic hangers are thrown away every year. As designer Roland Mouret says: “Clothes hangers are the plastic straws of the fashion industry.” Together with Netherlands-based Arch & Hook he spearheads a campaign to convert the industry to using a clothes hanger named Blue, made entirely of recycled marine plastics, and itself recyclable.
Fortunately, in the furniture and interior design world, we’re seeing some growth in more sustainable products and less waste – from the use of quickly renewable materials such as bamboo, to the reduction of chemicals in paint, to the upcycling of pre-used items.
We began Ulloo42 with the idea of repurposing existing furniture – transforming unwanted items to give them new character and a completely new life. Then, when we expanded to create designs for fabrics, wall coverings and floor treatments, we decided to do only site-specific, custom-made work. By choosing not to produce ‘ready-made’ collections we have eliminated all chance of over-production.
In our workshop, nothing goes to waste. We love printed magazines but they never see the trash can after we’ve read them: Suzanne cuts up their pages to use for her collage art. She repurposes scraps of fabric and trim to create details for new pieces. And, of course, all of our one-of-a-kind lamps and furniture items would probably have ended up in landfill unless we had rescued, restored and Ulloo-ated them.
We are so happy to see that the world has started to realize the true cost of waste, and is embracing the new re-use, re-purpose ethos. We can all do our bit, however small it seems – so we say: have fun by wasting less and be creative with what you already have.