I have a confession to make: I am a fabric hoarder.
Not in the same way my grandmother is a fabric hoarder; buying yards and yards of fabric with no specific project in mind. No, that's not my style. I like to think of myself as an Eco-Warrior Hoarder - I save every single teeny tiny bit of scrap fabric and cutting waste from my collections, mostly for fear of it ending up in the landfill and rendering me a gigantic hypocrite, but also because I am always so sure I will create something amazingly cool out of my scraps and all will hail ME, the Amazing Eco-Warrior Textile Scrap Queen!!
Not so. Not by a long shot.
I am moving at the end of this month, and the (much needed) clean-up has also forced me to re-evaluate many, many items I have been holding onto for far too long. It has forced me to see the light - I will probably never, ever make anything amazingly cool with my textile scraps...in fact, if I continue on this way, I may just end up sitting on a pile of scraps like Scrooge McDuck sits on his pile of money....not doing anything with it at all, just......sitting. As I sift thorough the bags and bags of scraps I've collected during my creation of (Ag)+(Au), I am proud of myself for keeping all of this textile waste free from the landfill, but my mind wanders. I remember a horror story my friend Kaya from Novel Supply Co. told me of like-minded designers; eco-warrior scrap savers who vowed to never throw their cutting waste into the landfill, and now own warehouses FULL of scraps that they, well, just sit on. Of course I then start to imagine my own Lifetime Original Movie: 'The Girl who Drowned in Fabric' and fast forward to the part where my cat and I (my Fiancé having long since pulled chute) are suffocated under piles of high-quality organic Tencel and hemp/cotton blend, never to be seen or heard of again......really chilling stuff.
So, now what?
Enter FABCYCLE - a shiny new company in Vancouver which recycles fabric scraps and cutting floor waste, keeping it from ending up in a landfill! I must admit, I am a HUGE recycling nerd, so stumbling upon this company made me feel all warm and fuzzy. It may not sound like much, but as a business who produces relatively large amounts of fabric waste, it's pretty exciting to finally have a resource for getting rid of it and keeping your conscience intact.
FUN FACT: it's estimated that the North American garment industry produces over 16.1 MILLION TONS of textile waste EVERY YEAR!!! Add to this that well over 15% of fabric meant for clothing ends up on the cutting room floor and is more often than not just discarded. And top all that off with this cherry: ONE HUNDRED PERCENT (100%!) OF ALL FABRIC PRODUCED IS RECYCLABLE! Now do you understand why this is such an important industry!? Just imagine if a huge company like Kinkos had no way to recycle the pounds and pounds of paper waste they produced every day!? Unheard of!
In New York City, you are now required by LAW to recycle commercial textile waste. Yay, New York! But what about Vancouver? No laws yet, but companies like Fabcycle are starting that very serious conversation, and we are super pumped about it.
So what exactly do they do with all that textile waste?
Fabric waste is collected in special bags from anywhere that creates it - manufacturers, independent designers, even hobby sewers, and is brought to the Fabcycle facility in Surrey, B.C. Here it is sorted, and discerning eyes decide if each particular piece can be reused, or recycled. If reused, the textiles are connected with another maker who will (definitely) create something super amazing out of it, and if it is to be recycled, it is sent to one of many partner companies to be shredded and turned into things like insulation, carpet padding, and furniture blankets! Who knew!
So, next time you find yourself surrounded by b
ags and bags of fabric scraps...or...maybe more likely, you KNOW anybody who works with textiles on a regular basis, enlighten them! Tell them about the wondrous world of fabric scrap recycling, direct them to Fabscrap, and feel warm and fuzzy about your good eco-deed. You deserve it. You eco-warrior you.