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Fabscrap reuses textile scraps to tackle the problem of fashion waste



Written by Hena Sharma, CNN

Fabscrap, a New York-based non-profit organization, collects, organizes and reuses textile scraps from the city’s design offices, in order to divert as much unused material as possible from landfill or incineration. .

Founded in 2016 by CEO Jessica Schreiber, Fabscrap was created to meet the city’s commercial textile recycling needs. The company works with fashion brands like Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs and Lafayette148, in addition to the interior design and entertainment industries.

Prior to founding Fabscrap, Schreiber worked at the New York City Department of Sanitation and ran the city’s clothing recycling program. While there, Schreiber says many brands sought to manage their textile waste, but “there was no place that could handle the volume of what was being thrown away.”

Over the past few years, the nonprofit has helped solve the problem – working with some 500 brands around New York who are trying to reduce their textile waste. Some designers may feel “a little guilty about the amount of fabric they throw away,” says Schreiber, who added that Fabscrap receives 8,000 pounds of waste per week.

Customers choose which fabrics to buy from Fabscrap in New York.

Customers choose which fabrics to buy from Fabscrap in New York. Credit: DON EMMERT / AFP / AFP via Getty Images

One of these brands is Mara Hoffman, a fashion company committed to sustainable fashion practices in manufacturing, materials and approach. The brand is known for incorporating recycled fabrics like Econyl (an alternative nylon made from recycled fishing nets) and Repreve (a polyester made mostly from recycled plastic bottles) into their designs.

The brand’s vice president of sustainability, products and business strategy Dana Davis said Fabscrap has helped Mara Hoffman become more sustainable. The label reached out in 2016 after seeing the amount of textile waste accumulated over time. “Season after season, we receive (samples) and it really just builds up and piles up… we were really overwhelmed with textile waste.”

When a business is interested in Fabscrap’s service, they can register online and fill bags with their unwanted textiles. The bags are then collected and brought to the nonprofit organization’s Brooklyn office where the materials are weighed and sorted for reuse or recycling. Large scraps of fabric are often given to fashion students, artists and artisans, while small pieces are shredded and then used for mattress padding, insulation, and carpet padding.

While Fabscrap helps reduce the amount of textile waste in the design process, there is still work to be done. “I hope that in 5 years we will start to tackle the source of the waste, not just the waste itself,” says Schreiber.

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