Scatty knits’ zero waste manufacturing (ZWM)

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AKA It’s more fun than it sounds

There is no Planet B

A sneak into the Scatty process…

There is no doubt that in the last few years there has been a huge rise in information about sustainability. Bloggers, upcycling influencers, zero waste websites and articles. You look for advice and resources ending up with 30 different ideas and directions to go. But also with the sounds of ‘green washing’ ringing in your ears. I am particularly uncomfortable with some brands waving the organic and sustainable flag and still exploiting workers.   

Fashion Revolution's Who Made my clothes' campaign
Check out the outstanding campaign by Fashion Revolution

What’s a Scatty to do?

The impact of all of this that when I focused on the idea of zero waste production as one of Scatty’s goals, I had to pin down how this would work in practice. I had a very literal interpretation of a term, so I presumed that ‘zero waste’ meant zero i.e. no waste. While the term zero waste actually means 

The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.

Source: Zero waste International Alliance

So, obviously a little more complex than I had thought! Over the month of August I’m going to take time to explore the concepts of zero waste and the practicalities of aiming for this in my making process. As well as sharing some of the fascinating work of zero waste designers in the fashion industry that I’ve found in my ‘research’ (endless surfing for understanding) 

Spoiler Alert

I’m definitely no expert and this is mostly a record of my journey – warts and all. False steps, missteps and arse over tits steps. 

I think, therefore I’m Scatty…

This week I want lay out the somewhat muddled (dare I say Scatty) thinking that led to the #UseEveryScrap. 

Let’s do the time warp…

SO lets go back to the heady days of 2017 when I wasn’t under lock down and spoke face to face with actual people. I had been working for the magnificent Woolly Pedlar (Sue) producing sweater mittens. Adults, children and babies, but no matter how clever I was with my cutting layouts, I was still left with unused felted wool. 

Recycled baby mittens
Bright pink baby mittens to add oomph to any chilly little handsies

Aha!, said the creative Sue, make garlands from the scraps. And so the Christmas reusable, upcycled and almost zero waste garlands arrived. I say almost zero waste because I still had scraps left – too small to make anything with. However, being the hoarder that I am I couldn’t bare to throw them out so began my scrappy wool mountain collection.

Recycled wool garlands
Festive garlands – have an eco friendly celebration!

I never made that, but how hard can it be…

But then my neighbour (Hi Eleanor!) asked for a custom make of a draught excluder and so the scraps became stuffing. Suddenly there were no heavy wool scraps left behind. I liked this very very much. It was like a huge win. No scraps left + new makes that I had had no intention to make at the beginning + the discovery of bits of the floor in my sewing room that I had not seen in months. 

My lightbulb moment

The fabric from charity shops and textile waste had driven the products instead of virgin fabric being produced at huge environmental costs for freshly designed products.

SO that’s Scatty in a nutshell, I don’t set out to make a particular consistent one product. Instead the fabric available drives what I make. I buy fabric from from charity shops (the items that can’t be sold), or the waste from the cutting room floor from commercial production and I attempt to use it all. 

Hasta la vista baby bin

My only ‘waste’ should be thread trimmings. As soon as I figure out how to use those effectively, its game over for my little waste bin. 

Not waste bin
My not waste bin – scraps for stuffing

Never in the world…

On the micro scale I’m attempting a zero waste production model. It’s not sophisticated but it is effective. As a curious little soul this of course got me thinking if I’m doing it there much be other people doing the same thing but hopefully on a bigger scale and so began the zero waste manufacturing research (search for tips on how to do it better). I was really down the rabbit hole now as I discovered zero waste design as a part of the manufacturing process. Now this delighted my tidy little soul as the design process was intending to tackle the astounding fact that 

About 15% of fabric intended for clothing ends up on the cutting room floor. This  waste rate has been tolerated industry-wide for decades.Timo Rissanen

upcycled lambswool messenger bag
Messenger bag produced from cutting room floor waste

But that’s a blog post for another week…

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