Our Problem with Scraps
Scraps. Little known to the majority of consumers, fabric straps are one of the main components to waste within the fashion industry. In fact, traditional cutting of flat patterns from bolts of fabric creates 15% waste, even when using a $50,000 technology to avoid this issue. To make this process just a little more difficult for our situation, our cutting scraps occur at a much higher rate as our process requires us to avoid stains and rips on the denim we use, because not all vintage jeans are as beautiful as they seem. And fun fact, we unfortunately do not have $50k for this nifty technology (yet).
Now don’t get us wrong, there are many companies now-a-days that accept cutting scraps and recycle them into fabrics, recycled insulation or create fresh new designs. FabScrap is a company that works with some of the largest designers, like Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta and Eileen Fisher, collecting their scraps to recycle into carpets, new fabrics or insulation. Zero Waste Daniel uses cutting scraps from factories all around NYC to create patch-work apparel. The New Denim Project based in Guatemala accept scraps to be recycled into new textiles like linens, chambray and even new denim. And Blue Jeans Go Green is another great organization that collects jeans and creates insulation for Habitat for Humanity homes, how much better could it really get?
With all these great options you’d think we would have no problem getting rid of our scraps, right?
For months we have contacted these types of resources about every possible options to get rid of our scraps. FabScrap said no because they don’t accept post consumer scraps; we still have yet to figure out why..? Zero Waste Daniel didn’t give us much to work with, again rejecting us because of post consumer waste, however they did offer to sew all our scraps together and sell it back to us; not something we were particularly interested in at the moment.
We thought The New Denim Project was really going to be it. How amazing would it be to get our scraps recycled into a new fabric and come out with a new line of apparel created with this new fabric!? Sounds too good to be true, right?
Well, it was.
Unfortunately do to our small scale production, the ten, 40 gallon bags of scraps wouldn’t create enough fabric to even recoup the cost and environmental footprint of shipping all the way to Guatemala. A real bummer indeed. So, if you want this idea to come to life please visit the Shop All page so we sell more and in turn make more fabric scraps and afford shipping :)
Our last option (so we thought), was Blue Jeans go Green. While a great company, they’re based in Seattle, and with a tiny budget for getting rid of scraps we simply couldn’t afford the cost of shipping to support their awesome cause.
Our deadline for finding a home for these scraps (besides the dumpster) was June 5th and by June 2nd we had exhausted all potential options. As a sustainable fashion company, how could we be okay with dumping scraps of denim when the mission our the business is exactly the opposite?
On June 3rd, it was as though Mother Nature was hearing our prayers. While walking around the Grand Bazaar in NYC wearing a pair of Rockies, paired with The Sanclemente and a denim bag someone had asked if I liked to wear denim… as I am surrounded by pounds of it on the daily, my answer was of course, yes.
This person ended up being Stephanie from Lavender and Slate, a sustainable accessories company creating beautiful boho jewelry and small bags from, you guessed it, denim.
“If you ever have any denim leftover please let me know!” Stephanie said.
We told her that we have more denim scraps then she could possibly want (a reminder this was ten, 40 gallon bags of HEAVILY packed denim.) But she assured us that NOTHING was too much for her; a true angel.
About a week later, Greg and I packed up a rented Budget truck and drove all the way to New York. Now this truck had no AC on an 80 degree day (and we purchased two industrial machines from a lovely 80 year old Cuban man in Northern New Jersey), but despite a very sweaty day, all our scraps are now in a lovely home.
If it wasn’t for Stephanie, our mission of being a sustainable company would’ve been tarnished. But I guess that’s the power of creative people on a mission, supporting one another to create fashion and art, for a cleaner, more creative world.
Please check out Stephanie’s work at https://www.lavenderandslate.com/. The pieces she creates are beautiful, handmade and perfect for you nomads out there. Supporting her is supporting someone who works their butt off, commuting 2.5 hours (ONE WAY) daily for work and building her dream at the same time.
Thank you Stephanie, for supporting us and allowing us to sleep well at night knowing our scraps will have a longer life!