Clothing Designers Reusing Materials to Save Environment

    01 January 2020

    Clothing designers are turning to unusual plants and used materials to make products that better use natural resources.

    More people are paying closer attention to how the production of clothing affects the environment. However, some experts say that the idea of "buy and throw away," still rules when it comes to clothes.

    This is true -- although some famous people support a movement to reuse and recycle clothing.

    FILE - This June 9, 2019 file photo shows Billy Porter speaking at the Tony Awards in New York. Porter's outfit was made from curtains from the Tony Award-winning musical
    FILE - This June 9, 2019 file photo shows Billy Porter speaking at the Tony Awards in New York. Porter's outfit was made from curtains from the Tony Award-winning musical "Kinky Boots." He and other celebrities are wearing more vintage pieces.

    Actress Maggie Q created a line of clothes from recycled fabrics. She is among activists who believe more can be done to waste less.

    She says she feels "sick" about "fast fashion" -- low-cost clothes that can be worn once, then thrown away.

    The British design team, Vin + Omi, looks for creative ways to make the industry more sustainable. Their clothing is worn by former first lady Michelle Obama and singers Beyonce and Lady Gaga.

    The team found latex from Malaysia. But, when they discovered the conditions for the work there were bad, they bought the operation.

    In their office in the English countryside, they grow unusual crops for cloth development. These include chestnuts from trees and horseradish.

    Their latest line of clothes includes ones made from nettle plants, alpaca hair and recycled plastic from paint containers.

    Another English designer, Zoe Corsellis, keeps her carbon footprint low by manufacturing her clothes in London. The cloth comes from the United Kingdom and Germany. She makes the cloth from wood products, sea waste and something called "peace silk." It is considered a better method for silk worms than the traditional silk production process.

    Belgian designer Sebastiaan de Neubourg is recycling plastic bottles, car parts and machines used in homes. Plastic waste is collected and torn into small pieces for a 3D printer.

    "Waste, I believe, is design failure," he said.

    More famous people are also playing a part in the movement. They are buying vintage - or old - clothes used by people long ago. Others wear a set of clothes more than once.

    Fee Gilfeather is a sustainability expert with the nonprofit group Oxfam. She said there is hope that more will be done.

    "The textile industry is getting close to working out how to do fiber-to-fiber recycling," she said. Such recycling takes clothes that are no longer wanted or needed and breaks them down into raw materials to make new clothing.

    She said the industry needs to move faster, because carbon emissions from the textile manufacturers are predicted to increase 60 percent by 2050.

    Some fast-fashion industry leaders, including Zara and H&M stores, have launched clothing take-back plans aimed at recycling old clothes. But for now, recycling and a zero-waste goal is mostly a small part of the worldwide industry.

    I'm Anne Ball.

    Lizzie Knight wrote this story for the Associated Press. Anne Ball adapted it for Learning English.

    What do you think of this story? Write to us in the comments section below.


    Words in This Story

    recycle - v. to make something new from (something that has been used before)

    line - n. a seasonal collection of clothes for sale

    sustainable - adj. able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed

    latex - n. a white fluid produced by certain plants that is used for making rubber

    fiber - n. material (such as cloth) that is made from thin threads

    fabric - n. woven or knitted material

    alpaca - n. wool of the alpaca or a cloth made of it

    carbon footprint - n. the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds released due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person or group

    3D printer - n. a device that allows people to make complex objects on their own

    textile - n. made of cloth

    emission - n. something sent out or given off