Town Haul Podcast | Episode 22

  • Host: Amy Koonin (Rubicon)
  • Guest: Daniel Silverstein (Creator & Designer, ZWD)
  • Listen here!

For Daniel Silverstein, there’s nothing more on-trend than living sustainably. That’s why he started his own line of designer clothing made from the fabric scraps other designers throw away. This week, host Amy Koonin sat down with Zero Waste Daniel to discuss living zero waste, rerolling, and sustainability in fashion.

On waste in the fashion industry:

ZWD: “Clothing is one of our basic needs. It protects us from the elements, it does so much for us in terms of letting people know and understand our socioeconomic status, our beliefs, our religion. Whether or not you care about the fashion industry or the latest trends, clothing is probably on you while you’re listening to this. So the way it gets made touches you. Most clothing starts on a farm as a crop. And pesticides, labor conditions, these are things that really affect the global economy and huge populations of people.

Alongside that, the landfill aspect is terrifying. It’s estimated that about 95% of textiles that end up in landfills could be recycled, or upcycled, or reused. It’s a staggering market failure and also a huge amount of waste that’s being displaced in our environment. On top of that, over 21 billion pounds of textile waste were put into landfills in the United States in 2014 according to the latest studies. So when you look at 95% of that as being potentially recyclable, we’re demanding incredible resources of the earth without using them to their capacity.”

On rerolling fabric:

ZWD: “I learned from first-hand experience at internships and the design rooms that there was so much waste everywhere. My professor was always telling us you want to squeeze your pattern pieces as close together as you possibly can, but there’s always a waste. And it’s very frustrating because materials are really expensive and you end up paying for the material that gets thrown away. And she said just an offhand remark. An extra sentence at the end of a lecture. If someone would make a pattern that had no waste, they’d be a millionaire. And I just thought to myself, “Why is no one trying?”

When you roll out some cookie dough and you cut out all of your gingerbread men, you actually take the leftovers and ball them back up and roll them out again so you can squeeze a couple more cookies out of that. And I started looking at these pieces of fabric and thinking, “If I just put them back together, I could make another shirt.”

So with reroll, I use a system of rolls that I’ve developed to ensure that the new fabric will be flat and usable. That it is sturdy and won’t fall apart. So reroll could be completely uniform, beautiful, reproducible designs. Or like my collection, it can be made out of reclaimed textiles that are now making every single piece a one-of-a-kind.”

On living zero waste:

ZWD: “I think the biggest thing is preparedness. I have a little essentials kit that is just the things that I take with me every day. A reusable utensil, a cloth napkin that also doubles as a hanky. I’m a very messy person so that comes in handy. A jar or tin that you could use for leftovers, compost on the go, or water, or beverages. And an emergency tote bag. This fits in just a small 10” by 5” cosmetic pouch. It’s really easy to pop in your backpack or keep it in your car, whatever your lifestyle is. It basically ensures at all times that, whatever I’m doing, I have my basics covered. It’s just phone, wallet, keys, essentials. And it’s so easy.

I think especially surrounding such heavy topics like sustainability, and climate change, and global awareness, you have to be able to poke fun at things. You have to be able to reach people on a level that isn’t pedantic or trying to be a prophet or a messiah of any kind. You’re just trying to identify with people on a level that they can understand.”

On the toughest part of being a zero-waste designer:

ZWD: “Reminding myself that it’s all about the sum of the parts.”