Inside Tonle: San Francisco’s only zero waste clothing boutique

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — One look at the rich fabrics, colors and textures on display at Tonle boutique in San Francisco’s Inner Richmond district and you would never guess all of the clothing…is made out of trash.

CEO Rachel Faller began the Tonle journey after a trip to Cambodia in 2007 after college and noticed a disturbing trend in fashion manufacturing.

“I was going to secondhand markets and I would find piles of scraps and I could tell that they were cut waste from factories. We could already take this material that’s being produced to make some really beautiful stuff out of it.”

Showing us images on her phone she explains “we take the scraps that are being discarded by larger factories and we create our own collections out of it.

The images are remarkable, showing warehouses filled to the brim with rolls of fabrics in different patterns and materials.

In one image when the rolls are stacked more than 10 feet high, Rachel explains it’s the cut waste from just one factory.

In just the past five years Rachel estimates her company has diverted 35,000 pounds of fabrics that otherwise would have ended up in a landfill, or worse.

“A lot of dumped fabric and winds up in the ocean and there’s a lot of off-gassing of these chemicals.”