Vol 2. Zero Waste
E N S E M B L E.
E N S E M B L E. Vol 2: Zero Waste
Contributors Anna Theris Anwyn Hocking Kathryn Kellog Celia Ristow Victoria Jones Lexi Baikie The Clean Coast Collective
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Based in Perth, Australia. Website | www.ensembleapparel.net Instagram | @ensembleapparel_ FB | facebook.com/EnsembleApparelCollective
Founder’s Letter. Alison Bremner
Whilst each project is intended to be a learning experience for consumers, it always turns out to be equally as educational for myself. When it comes to fashion, I often find that I’m riddled with internal conflict. I love fashion, its history and how it’s reflected our social and economic development. However, I certainly don’t love that about it now, as it’s currently exhibiting our appalling and absurd behaviour. Freedom of expression, the art of creation and skilled craftsmanship are all now somewhat paradoxical elements of something that was so beautiful, but is now overall quite harmful to people and the environment. The fashion industry and I have developed a love-hate relationship worse than any you’ll see on reality television. This particular project has been extremely emotionally exhausting. I spent a significant amount of time being overwhelmed, not only by the extensive amount of change that needs to take place in the industry, and furthermore the rest of the world, but also from questioning how ENSEMBLE. could best approach these issues. The same question kept arising - At what point does eliminating waste deter our
ability to create at all? After many discussions and thorough research, it became clear that there is no single right solution to managing consumer waste. If a product isn’t created by upcycling or recycling materials, it still can be a new product made mindfully so that when it becomes waste, it has minimal impact. Infact, if we apply a bit of mindfulness to each stage of the production process, the damage from wrongdoings can be vastly minimised. It’s unrealistic to expect others to be informed about something that they’ve never had the opportunity to be exposed to, which is why it’s so important to keep persisting for change and making sure consumers are equiped with the right information to make better purchasing decisions. On top of these theoretical conflicts, ENSEMBLE. also encountered its first operational complication. As we aim to work and engage with the community where our project is situated, we were using a social enterprise manufacturer in Melbourne to create our range of accessories from textile waste. Unfortunately, this manufacturing facility decided to close it’s doors for the rest of the year very close to when we were meant
to begin production. We only work with companies of similar social and environmental values, so it was looking near impossible to find someone who fit our criteria and could do the same job at such late notice. Luckily, with a bit of problem solving and help from an amazing support network, we still managed to launch this project after getting over those few bumps in the road. This time, we’re doing things a bit differently, but with all the same principles in mind. Yes, our product offering is a bit different to our previous project, but it’s still unique, good quality apparel that has taken a significat amount of time to source and prepare for sale. We’re still engaging with our community, we’re still sourcing locally and we’re continuing to create awareness around our central issue for this project. My Baba (which is Croatian for Grandma) has barely thrown out any of her clothes since she built her house in Australia around 40 years ago. A talented seamstress herself, she seems to have this higher level of appreciation for her clothes that I’ve always related to. She talks about the pride people
would take in their clothes, a sense of pride that I question if it even still exists. You didn’t need to be able to afford a closet full of expensive items, just a handful of well made pieces that would last. In fact, they last so long that a large portion of the clothes that I wear now are actually my Baba’s old clothes. They always seem to be the pieces I get the most compliments on too. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment, but I believe that there definitely was a point in time where our perception of quality and value of clothing drastically changed. I’m sure that we did once have a healthy relationship with our clothing and that it is possible, with a bit of effort from consumers and retailers, to rekindle this relationship. As consumers, it’s important to question where our clothes come from and to try and make the best purchasing decisions we can. It’s also equally as important to make the effort to equip others with the ability to make better decisions where possible. Once again, thank you to all of those who have helped through what has proven to be a challenging but rewarding experience. After this project we’re moving on to some pretty exciting things, so keep in touch.
PROJECT 2 Zero Waste
As humans, our ability to create is arguably one of our better qualities. However, our ability to foresee the impact of our creations is not. With Fast Fashion chains dominating the market, clothing is now one of the only consumer products created with the intention to be discarded before it’s even lived its whole product life. When and why did we develop such an unhealthy relationship with our clothing? Let’s first take a look at what exactly Fast Fashion is. It’s essentially a business model used by the fashion industry in which affordable, poor quality versions of designer or trend focused garments are produced for mass consumption. Purposely designed to only have a small life span, Fast Fashion items are created with the intention to be disposed of once new trends surface or once the consumer has worn the garment for what they perceived to be a socially acceptable amount of time. Due to globalisation, the main shopping precincts in all corners of the globe are lined with the one stop shops of retail giants using this exact model to churn through trends. There’s no denying that the process of purchasing gives us instant gratification, it’s essentially rewarding yourself. Fashion consumption also fulfils human needs, like our striving for social recognition and self realisation. But why do we consume clothing at such an obscenely high rate? With the Fast Fashion model bringing in stock as often as every two weeks, trends and our speed of consumption are moving faster than ever.
But from where exactly is this demand driven? Companies will often state that they are meeting the demands of the consumer, who wish to instantly be able to purchase the next big trend they’ve seen on a catwalk or, more commonly now, worn by a social influencer. However, could it be that the consumer has been somewhat coerced into believing they have a ‘need’ that is actually more of a not very well thought out ‘want’? It’s hard to understand the benefits of consumers parting with their money for a substandard, poor quality item with extreme negative impacts, besides the financial gain of retailers. Naturally, the next stage of a product’s lifecycle once we no longer want it in our wardrobe is to discard it. Because we’re purchasing at such a fast rate, we’re also disposing just as quickly. An Australian currently buys an average of 27 kilograms of clothing a year. They’ll also throw 14.8 kilograms of clothing away. Our clothes’ afterlife is something rarely discussed on the high street. If your clothing doesn’t end up going straight to landfill, there’s a couple of different journeys it can take. The most common responsible approach is to take your clothes to a second hand store (or an op shop, thrift store... whatever you call it wherever you are). While the great vintage pieces you can find from a nanna’s closet clear out are great, the aftereffects of the Fast Fashion movement has found second hand stores increasingly becoming filled with faded, stretched and unappealing trend-centric garments. These undesirable items are not exiting the store anywhere near as fast as they are entering. As more and more clothing is being donated, second hand stores are being overwhelmed by the amount of product on their hands. So much to the point where we’ve had to start exporting our used clothing. Australia alone exported 70,000 tones of second hand clothing last year. This clothing is exported to developing countries
and, ironically enough, sometimes even back to where the product was first manufactured. Haiti has become a manufacturing hub for the United States, due to its close proximity and cheap and unregulated labour. Large companies will manufacture their products here, only to have them sent back once they have lived out their life in the closet of a consumer. Port au Prince, Haiti’s capital city, hosts the Croix-des-Bossales market. Once a market for slaves, it now operates as a dumping ground for our unwanted clothes. Not only is this extremely problematic, as a process disguised as “charity” is essentially a method for shifting our problem on to the less fortunate, but it also harms the local tailoring industry as our waste is more affordable and takes away their business. What we’ve discussed so far only looks at the waste caused by clothing at the end of its product life cycle. Unfortunately, there’s an obscene amount of waste in the stages leading up to creating this product too. Treatments on a kilogram of textiles can require up to a kilogram of chemicals and 300 litres of water, with at least 90% of these hazardous substances secreting from the clothing through various stages of washing and rinsing. Clothing set to be distributed on long freight routes is also treated with pesticides to protect it against mould infestation or pests. The lack of strong environmental policy around the chemicals used in clothing production in Asia is another drawcard for profit-driven retailers to us it as a place to recklessly manufacture. As consumers, the best course of action you can take to minimise waste in these production processes is to put pressure on brands to do better. However, when it comes to textile waste, there are many ways you can personally minimise your impact. Buying second hand items is the simplest and most effective way to help reduce waste. Not only are you stopping this item from becoming landfill, you’re also not
contributing to creating any more waste at any stage of the product’s lifecycle. If you’re the sort that needs to constantly update your outfit, swapping and borrowing clothes with friends and family also combats waste just as well and is extremely cost effective. Minimising your waste doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t buy anything new. If you do a bit of research, you’ll find there are plenty of brands out there that keep the product’s afterlife in strong focus. Waste is an issue that stems far beyond fashion. This is just one segment in our lives where we, as consumers, produce too much waste. From plastic packaging to food and whether it’s due to a lack of resources or sheer laziness, we’re sending far too much to landfill. Minimising your waste doesn’t require extensive lifestyle changes. You can simply lower your waste levels by being more mindful when making purchases and not over consuming. You’ll find that you’ll save yourself money too, seeing as you would have ended up just sending those excessive purchases to landfill. To start effectively managing the waste you produce also requires minimal integration of products and systems. If you keep reading, you’ll see some of our
contributors featured have submitted some great tips to get you on your way. And so with that, we bring to you our latest project. We’re borrowing the Fast Fashion business model, but proving that you don’t need it’s negativey impacting products to make it function. Like the major labels, approximately every 4 weeks we will drop a new range containing a limited amount of hand picked vintage pieces, with each piece being mindfully curated and prepared for sale. As the pieces are one of a kind, there will only be one of each piece and it will only come in the one size. Each item in every range has a story. Some have been cherished and handed down from previous generations of family, others were found well kept in the corner of a second hand store in the country and mended. Regardless of their journey, all of our products allow us to recognise fashion apparel design and construction as the craft that it truly is. We hope that this project will allow consumers to be better informed about the issue of consumer waste, while providing well made and unique garments. All in the effort to rekindle the relationship between consumer and clothing to sustain the good practice of conscious consumerism.
Kathryn Kellog Going Zero Waste. California, United States of America.
We had a chat to Kathryn Kellog, founder of the blog dedicated to documenting her waste free lifestyle “Going Zero Waste”, about her part in the movement to minimise waste and her journey to living a waste free lifestyle.
How did you manage going zero waste? What inspired you to start your blog Going Did you take it one step at a time or did Zero Waste? What drove you to make your you cull most of your waste in one go? idea a reality? It was a pretty long journey for me. I had 6 tumors in my breast, thankfully benign, discovered when I was 20. The whole experience gave me a new outlook on life. I had never questioned what I put in and on my body. I just assumed if a product was on the shelf, it was safe.
I had been living a zero waste lifestyle for a couple of months, and I couldn’t find any resources that really resonated with me. I’m from the South where access to things like health food stores is slim. Some places still don’t have recycling. It’s a completely different world than living in California.
I started eating a plant forward diet and learned how to cook with fresh produce. I started looking for alternative beauty products. I had learned about BPA and BPS in plastics. Both of which are endocrine disrupters. They mimic estrogen and one of the side effects is tumor growth. I slowly started trying to phase plastic out. When I moved to the bay area, there is litter EVERYWHERE. We’re right by the ocean, and it really drove home the idea of how plastic isn’t only a health concern it’s an environmental concern too. It really reinforced the idea of going plastic free, and I eventually went zero waste.
I wanted to start my blog so people would feel empowered to make changes in their daily lives no matter where they are or their circumstances. Everyone can make a difference no matter how small! What are some of your best achievements in the zero waste movement? I’m just excited that people are interested in living lightly on the earth, and that my blog is used as a resource to help them. All I’ve ever wanted to is to help people.
Two years of Kathrynâ€™s trash in one jar.
What are some challenges you’ve come across along the way? Going zero waste isn’t like climbing a mountain. It’s not like it gets more challenging as you go. In fact, it gets easier. It’s all about tiny shifts in habit that add up to massive impact. The hardest part is rewiring what you’re accustomed to doing. Instead of getting a takeaway cup of coffee, I bring my own cup. It takes about 2 seconds to remember to grab a cup on the way out the door. Once you’re in the habit of it, it takes no extra time at all. Do you have any tips for people who are trying to reduce their waste? Just commit to doing one thing. Whether that be bringing your reusable bags or reusable water bottle. Once you’re in the habit of doing that then try something new! Before you know it, you’ll have to cancel your trash service. I also have over 300 blog posts full of helpful tips and tricks.
You can follow Kathryn’s through her following online channels: Blog | www.goingzerowaste.com FB | www.facebook.com/goingzerowaste Instagram | @going.zero.waste Twitter | twitter.com/goingzerowaste
Artwork | Anna Theris | @anna.logue.35
Why Zero Waste Matters.
Celia Ristow | Litterless
Last night at my company holiday party, I sat down to dinner to find a plastic fork at my place. It was a fancy event, so I hadn’t expected that - and didn’t have my usual bamboo utensil on hand. Some would say it’s not a big deal. To me, it was. I’ve spent the last year and a half working toward zero waste, winnowing my trash and recycling output down as much as possible. A month’s worth of trash can now fit in the palm of my hand; a month’s recycling can fit in the crook of my elbow. I skip produce that comes in plastic packaging - blueberries, my beloved favorite fruit, are now a special treat in July & August, the only time I can get them locally, without the single-use plastic carton. I’ll travel a little farther by foot or train to a grocery store where I can buy flour, spices, tea, olive oil in bulk, decanted into my own containers so that I don’t leave with anything that needs to be thrown away. While out and about, I tuck my food waste - orange peels, apple cores - into a jar so that I can bring it home and
compost it. Which is why the plastic fork wasn’t just a fork. Over the past few years, objects that formerly seemed normal - ubiquitous plastic food packaging, single-use serving pieces, even plastic pens - have come to seem weird to me. The fork was made of petroleum pumped from the ground, shipped across the world, manufactured into the shape of a fork, and shipped back across the world to land in Chicago, Illinois. Only to be discarded at the end of a 30-minute meal, to sit in a landfill for the next thousand+ years. That’s pretty weird. Each year, Americans throw away 40 billion plastic knives, spoons, and forks, all because that seems more convenient than washing a reusable utensil. Because we have systems in place that mask the social and environmental costs: we can just throw them “away.” Really, “away” doesn’t exist. Zero waste isn’t just about keeping things This week, with the Paris climate talks happening, I’ve been thinking more about
Artwork | Anna Theris | @anna.logue.35 why zero waste is so important. We’ve all been waiting for the governments of the world to decide what they’re going to do about global warming. To act on climate. And they must. I’ve followed the news eagerly, because it matters. Because this international agreement might be the best hope we’ve got. And, yet, while we wait, we can’t wait. There isn’t time. This matters. And we make choices every day that matter. I want to create a world in which the demand for oil to produce and ship single-use products and plastics has vanished. In which more people look down at a plastic fork and think “What? Why?” before pulling a reusable utensil from their bags. In his book Garbology, Ed Humes writes that “10 percent of the world oil supply is used to make and transport disposable plastics.” 10 percent of the world’s oil. A fork doesn’t seem significant on it’s own, until you realise those are the types of things making up that 10 percent out of landfills, though
that’s an important aspect. It’s also about reducing demand for these unnecessary things that are so transient we just throw them away after using them once, twice, or three times. I respect the world I live on, the people in it, the resources used to make my things, the people who made them, the people who live next to the rising oceans, the animals who share the world. That’s why my choices matter. So, the fork. I looked down, picked it up, ate my pasta with it, vowed to remember to bring my own next time. And then I tucked the dirty fork in my purse, to wash it and put it back in the silverware drawer at the office so that all of that plastic might be used again, at least once, before it hits the landfill for good. Celia Ristow is a zero waste lifestyle blogger from Chicago. You can find other articles and tips around waste management from Celia at www.literless.com.
Artist | Anwyn Hocking | @anwyn.elise
We had a chat to Nat and Dan from The Clean Coast Collective about what they get up to, how they got there and how we can be a part of it. Can you tell us about what inspired you to start the Clean Coast Collective?
enriches our lives in so many ways. The second was that none of the existing
We started Clean Coast Collective after
outlets appealed to us - we were searching
spending weekends hiking into remote
for an organisation that would inspire us
sections of the NSW South Coast. We used
to make changes, but not through the use
these hikes to escape society but started
of depressing or dull imagery. We wanted
noticing that there was often more rubbish
to be part of an organisation that looked
on these remote sections of beach than on
and felt like all of the other brands that
the urban beaches. It was then that we learnt
we admired, but was also contributing to
about marine debris and the devastating
positive changes in our oceans - when we
impact it was having on our coastline.
couldnâ€™t find anything like this we decided to create it ourselves.
What really drove you to make that idea
The final driving force was a desire to
There were a number of factors that
enormous and complex but if we can say to
contributed to our decision to make Clean
ourselves at the end of our time that we at
Coast Collective a reality. The first (of
least tried to do something to preserve the
course) is a desire to preserve the beauty
ocean, then our lives will be enriched in ways
of our oceans and coastlines. We definitely
that no amount of money or possessions
both have a strong love for the ocean as it
ourselves. The issue of plastic pollution is
Who is a part of your team?
of backgrounds - on our latest expedition
Clean Coast Collective is still a side hustle
designers, economists and school teachers
but our day-to-day team comprises of Jorja in
helping us remove a mammoth 7 tonnes of
Western Australia and then Dan and myself
rubbish from the beach.
to Chilli Beach we had musicians, graphic
based in Byron Bay. However, we also have many amazing souls across Australia that
After the expeditions, each Trash Tribe
provide us with endless support.
member is then required to share the journey and their experiences from the clean up in their own unique way, within their
We think your products are beautiful.
communities. The impact is therefore not just
of your product offering?
but also a spreading of the message to
Thankyou! Our products are inspired by
What inspired their design and the choice
the physical removal of tonnes of rubbish, areas that are far removed from the regular
a desire to eliminate plastic items from routine aspects of our lives without having to forsake on style. We believe ditching plastic products actually enhances your life and we want our products and branding to reflect that.
Where can we find out more about what you do or how can we get involved?
There’s heaps of information available on our website and we always share anything exciting through our social media. We’re
We love that you not only sell products that help consumers to minimise waste,
also open to ideas and welcome people getting in touch to chat!
but also actively clean up the mess with your Trash Tribe expeditions. Can you tell us a bit out the projects you run?
We’re incredibly proud that 100% of profits from our product sales go towards funding our Trash Tribe expeditions! Our Trash Tribe expeditions involve taking
Find out more about The Clean Coast Collective through their following channels:
groups of young people to remote sections of the Australian coastline to conduct massive beach clean ups. The people that join us on these expeditions are from a diverse range
Instagram | @cleancoastcollective
FB | facebook.com/cleancoastcollective/ Website | cleancoastcollective.org
Artist | Anna Theris | @anna.logue.35
Victoria Jones Founder, S A Y A Designs. United Kingdom.
Hi Victoria! Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself? Hi, my name is Victoria and I am the founder of S A Y A Designs, an accesories brand. I created the company out of a deep love of nature, a growing awareness of environmental issues, and a desire to create things with a real story to tell. My background is in the visual arts, and I have worked in many jobs across the industry, from auction houses to an adult Steiner school. Across these fields, I noticed the value that people place on the things they treasure, and the ability of these things to connect us people to wider issues. As an artist, I have always been passionate about making things and experimenting with ideas and materials! S A Y A was one of them. What inspired you to start S A Y A? For me, S A Y A is a medium for exploring environmentalism. I wanted to try and create excitement about issues I believed in and also find a creative way to encourage others to do the same. I also started to read and learn about the circular economy and how it differs from our current Industrial model. I realised that I could start my own business and become part of it, and in doing so generate a positive impact on the issues I had grown to care deeply about. I was so inspired by this idea!
Was there any significant turning point which drove you to turn your dreams into a reality? Yeah for sure, I think there were many turning points, or even confirmations that I was heading down the right track. There was a lot of serendipity that encouraged me to keep moving forward, people able to help me at the right times or doors opening up. The Kickstarter campaign was a real turning point as well, because it was the first time I got my ideas out in the open and nothing boosts your confidence more than other people believing in what you‘re doing! I also just became more and more aware of the dramatic effect our life choices are having on the environment and I couldn’t sit still and watch anymore. What sort of role do you think fashion is able to play in social and environmental change? A huge one and I’m so excited to start seeing the results that will take place in the near future due to this huge growth in awareness for the planet as a whole. I think we are going through the stepping stones towards a brighter future! I feel this wave of eco fashion is amazing in the sense that it is being used to spread a huge amount of awareness and help set better standards for larger companies. I think it is past being important to a small minority of people and is becoming a social norm, which is so great! Fashion is an area for self expression, so it’s a perfect arena for this discussion to be based around. I think the philosophy is something that will take time, but I think the change in mind set will be the biggest difference that sets things apart. I think we can start by first thinking about what we buy, understand the impact of our actions and then we can start making real changes to how we live.
We really need to just need to do more things ourself and stop relying on others to make a difference.
Who is a part of your team? At the moment its mainly me, I am lucky to have the huge help and support of my wonderful boyfriend who has been working on the website with me which has been priceless! I also have had the help of a few amazing freelancers and friends who have helped me with aspects of the business. I cant wait to collaborate more in the future and work more as a team, as nothing beats bouncing ideas with people! What are some challenges you’ve come across along the way? There have been a variety of tricky things, as going off the beaten track is not the most efficient path to take, but I think hurdles apply to any business. The main challenge I would say is that there is no rule book to sustainability. Sometimes people give you advice that you don’t agree with. People place their own depth to the word ‘sustainable’, I realised that quite early on. It’s hard when starting out to know how to connect the dots and be able to trust, so I just had to rely on my gut feeling. I feel determined to keep doing everything in a way that I can be proud of.
You can find Victoria’s creations at sayadesigns.com, or follow her journey on Instagram at @saya_designs.
Zero Waste: How to Get Started Celia Ristow | Litterless
I recently shared with a few sweet friends of mine (hi, h & a!) that I live without making trash, save for a few tiny odds and ends here and there (the plastic seal surrounding a bottle of vitamins, a stray produce sticker). They promptly started quizzing me on the particulars (Food? Bought in bulk, in my own containers. Toothbrushes? Bamboo, compostable. Paper towels? Replaced with cloth). The conversation helped me realize that living zero waste can seem really challenging, crazy, unattainable. Though it’s taken me some time to get to this point, it has actually been pretty easy. To that end, I thought I’d give a few tips to get you started on the path to making less trash, if you’d like - even if you aren’t ready to go completely zero waste, even taking small steps in that direction can make such a difference. So, here are three simple ways to get started:
1. Compost. Food waste isn’t garbage – given the chance to decompose, it will become rich soil that we can use to grow even more food. In a landfill, food doesn’t decompose, so composting is the clear winner here. Once you start composting, you’ll notice the amount of trash you make dropping rapidly. Food scraps, wood, cotton, linen, and lots of other materials can go straight into the compost. If you’re able to, you can set up a simple backyard composting system. Or, check to see if there’s a compost pickup service in your area using my national composting resource guide, here. 2. Shop smarter. By bringing your own cotton bags to the grocery store or farmers’ market to use instead of those clingy plastic produce bags, you’ll be able to buy fruits and veggies without making waste. Many stores also offer a bulk foods aisle, where you can decant unpackaged pantry staples (such as whole grains, snacks, and spices) into jars and bags you’ve brought from home. If you’re new to the bulk aisle, I’ve put together a how-to guide to get you started (it’s easy!). 3. Think twice. Part of living more simply and sustainably is figuring out what we need to live and thrive, and what we don’t. Though my instinct used to be that “more is better,” I’ve slowly been retraining myself to say no to the things I don’t need. The grocery store sample in a plastic cup, the free pen, the item on sale. Simply put, the less I bring in to my house, the less that needs to go out as trash.
Artist | Lexi Baikie | @lexbai
Next we’ll be looking at intellectual property theft and the effect it has on artisians, small labels and big business.
Who actually came up with the design for your favourite piece of clothing? It can be hard determining who actually owns the ideas behind the designs seen in the fashion and textiles industry, but it’s often a red flag when you see the same garments on the racks of all the major retailers. Some brands even take pride in their ability to steal designs from the runway or artisans for mass consumption.
This time, we’ll be working with a group of artisans to make a range of products showcasing their craft that brands often steal without recognition.
Want to contribute to our next publication, or just want to say hello? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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