When Amit Kalra was 20, he decided he wanted to be more stylish than his budget would allow. He taught himself to design and make his own clothing, sifting through thrift stores for cheap materials. Kalra's side project of cutting and sewing recycled clothes for friends and small clothing brands led him to an idea that he hopes will turn the fashion industry on its head -- and save the planet while he’s at it.
"What happens to the clothes we don't buy? You might think that last season's coats, trousers and turtlenecks end up being put to use, but most of it (nearly 13 million tons each year in the United States alone) ends up in landfills. Fashion has a waste problem, and Amit Kalra wants to fix it. He shares some creative ways the industry can evolve to be more conscientious about the environment -- and gain a competitive advantage at the same time."
So what are Amit's solutions to fast fashion's waste problem? Here's a quick rundown:
- Approach clothing design in a modular way, like building with lego. This way, at the end of a garment's life, it can quickly and easily be dissembled and recycled in a simple, closed-loop model.
- Extend the life of clothing by just 9 months; this can reduce it's waste and water impact by 20-30%. Do this by investing in quality basics and classic staples that will never go out of fashion.
- Create garments from natural, non-mixed fibres without harsh chemicals and dyes, so that they can be fully biodegradable.
- Focus on personalised, customisable and bespoke business models.
- Design clothing with its 'death' in mind, remembering that the fashion life cycle shouldn't stop turning at the purchase stage.
Amit rightly comments that fashion is an industry that is based around change and innovation, so we are actually in a prime position to lead the way in zero-waste design and manufacturing. While 15% of used clothing is sold or donated, 85% goes straight to landfill, and that is not good enough. Here, watch the TED talk and let us know what you think.