There are generally two strategies for zero-waste fashion: creative pattern making that uses 100% of a given material, and generating garments from remnant materials. The only approach that we felt truly honored our sustainability philosophy was a marriage of the two. 

 

 

 

 

Our design team frequents remnant markets in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where pre-consumer textile waste cast aside by large brands are collected and re-sold. Back at our sewing workshop, designers and makers work side by side to design styles around the larger cuts of remnants fabric. Then small scraps left over from this process are cut and individually sewn back into yarn. The yarn is then hand-woven and knit into new pieces; articles of clothing made from twice-recycled fabric.The small amount of waste left from these processes are mixed with paper from our office and pattern making to be turned into our own handmade paper.  That leaves us with zero percent waste, out of materials that were considered waste to begin with. Indeed, “waste isn’t waste until you waste it.” 

Read more: the difference between deadstock, offcuts, and other kinds of pre-consumer textile waste

Aside from the fact that the production of our garments generates no waste, we’re always looking for ways to reduce waste in every aspect of our business. We recently converted our workshop to solar power – saving an additional 100,000 pounds of carbon per year. We naturally dye our pieces and use the left over natural dye materials as fertilizer in our garden. We package all of our products from the time they leave our workshop to when they get to your hands in 100% recycled and recyclable packaging.

 

Gift wrapping from tonle - zero waste and sustainable plastic-free packaging

We are currently working on developing a takeback program for our garments which we aim to launch in late 2019 to fully close the loop. In the meantime, we encourage our customers to take the best care of each garment from tonlé through detailed care instructions on our site. Remember, 50-75% of a garment’s carbon footprint usually comes from how you take care of it and really loving and taking care of each garment you purchase can significantly reduce the climate impact of your clothing purchases.

For a deeper dive on how our zero waste production works, check out these pages: 

learn more about our production practices practices 

learn more about our fair trading practices 

What is fast fashion and why is it a problem