Why we're loving our leftovers

Why we're loving our leftovers

We all know the mantra, Waste Not, Want Not. It applies to so many areas of our lives, from food to fashion. We can only hope that the years of excessive consumption are coming to an end. While we all love a bargain, the true cost of buying more than we need just for the sake of it, has led us into a world of waste. At a time when there is so much inequality in our society, it just doesn’t seem right anymore to throw things away, just because. Nor can we ignore the fact that we live on a planet where human made material now outweighs natural living matter. We are buying 60% more clothes than we did in 2000, and we are keeping those items half as long. It is estimated that of those discarded items, only 10% is recycled, 8% is reused as second hand clothing and a shocking 57% is sent to landfill. We buy 80billion items of clothing a year globally. And according to a report for the charity Barnardo’s, each piece is worn an average of just seven times in the UK. What a waste. 
This cannot go on.

While each of us has a role to play in thinking before we buy, we know that the fashion industry is contributing more than its fair share to the problem of too much stuff, and too much waste. Even before a garment reaches you, there will be a percentage of materials wasted along the way. At Ninety Percent, we believe in being responsible with the volumes of clothes we produce and ensure that we are not making too much for too little. We do not want to flood the world with clothes that won’t be worn, and we do not operate on the business model of the more you make, the cheaper it is. Nor do we want to leave waste behind on our cutting room tables. As much as 15 percent of the fabric used to make an item of clothing is calculated to be left on the cutting room floor once the pattern is cut out.  

We say “Waste Not!” We find ways of using as much of our fabric as we can, including the fabric we have left over from making samples before the designs even get into the production stage. We call it stock fabric. So instead of ordering more to make more, we use up what we have already on the shelves, including cords, and clothing labels from previous collections. Sometimes, just like when you are using up scraps in the fridge, this takes a little extra creative thinking. We have used tie-dye to give some flavour and extra pizzazz (who doesn’t need that right now?)  We might use two different colours, say, to make a single pair of trousers. Or patch together contrasting shades to make a hoodie. We think these pieces have extra personality. We are particularly proud of them because they took a little extra work to piece together. And there is something very satisfying about using up all the scraps and making something extra special with them.

The ‘Waste Not’ pieces in our collection are some of our favourites, not just because they look great, but because they show that we are making sure we make the most of the limited resources we have. We know how much raw material, energy and hours go into the creation of every piece of textile we make. And we are conscious of how precious those textiles are, so we would hate to waste them. 

Of course, it makes good business sense too. We know that by using up all of our fabrics, we are making them go further. Why wouldn’t we want to do that? It’s like when you make a pie and use up the scraps of leftover pastry to make a couple of jam tarts. They always taste the best. Or when we use up all left over vegetables to make a delicious soup. How satisfying is that? 

Waste Not, Want Not: Ways to make what you have go further

Give Give your clothes a bit of TLC every once in a while. Put aside a few hours at the weekend to sew on buttons, repair holes, or fix a hem that might have come down. If you don’t have sewing skills, ask a relative or a friend to help. A bit of a sewing session is very therapeutic, especially if you can have a bit of a gossip at the same time and take your mind off whatever else is going on in the world.

If you have items of clothing with stains on them, you might want to try dyeing them. Dylon has some great colours that you simply throw in the washing machine. 

Join OddBox. This fruit and vegetable delivery service makes up its boxes from surplus produce that can’t be sold either because it’s considered ugly or because there was a glut or problems in the supply chain.

Make a meal from leftovers. Challenge yourself to find ways of using up ends of cheese (throw parmesan rinds into a risotto or minestrone for extra flavour) or use up stale bread for croutons or breadcrumbs. Brown bananas make the best banana bread. Leftover boiled potatoes are perfect for a frittata.

Save your old envelopes, boxes and packaging to reuse again. Always use both sides of your paper!

Switch off the lights. It’s all part of the waste not ethic.

Check out Elvis & Kresse, the brand that makes luxury accessories from waste materials, including old tea sacks, surplus leather, and damaged fire hoses (they donate profits to the Firefighters Charity.

Educate yourself by reading Loved Clothes Last, the book (published by Penguin) on why making our clothes last longer makes so much sense by Fashion Revolution co-founder and creative director Orsola de Castro. This book is the result of decades of making sure every piece of clothing has been loved and valued. Guaranteed to inspire and motivate you to waste less, wear more.




Waste Not Organic Cotton Loopback Boyfit Hoodie

Waste Not Organic Cotton Loopback Boyfit Sweatpants

Waste Not Striped Tie Dye Boy Fit Hoodie

Waste Not Striped Tie Dye Boy Fit Sweatpants