Just like our food systems, clothing production can be extraordinarily wasteful. It’s a disturbing and upsetting fact that at least as much energy, labor and raw materials that go into a meal we eat or a pair of jeans we buy is wasted on one that’s trashed. Yes, we throw almost 50 percent of our food away, and it turns out that statistic is probably true for fashion, too.
Surprised? Remember that story about how Burberry burned millions of dollars worth of clothes? That’s not uncommon in the fashion world — and that Burberry story doesn’t even cover all the waste: “In the factories I have visited, I would guess that the wastage is more like 50 percent all told on CMT (Cut make and trim) alone,” Rachel Faller, the designer of zero-waste fashion line, Tonlé, told me.
“I’m not sure how much wastage there is before the fabric gets to CMT, in milling, spinning, and dying, but I am guessing there’s a great deal of waste there, too. Unfortunately, we don’t even have good statistics yet for the amount being wasted, but from what I’ve seen, it’s far higher than what most people have even estimated, and that is scary,” said Faller.