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This Manufacturer Creates Products from Trash

One company tries to change the way textile manufacturing exploits labor and the environment. But, while rewarding, there's a flip side to taking the hard road.

According to the New York Times, industry experts estimate that anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of material used to produce clothing ends up “on the cutting room floor” because it’s cheaper to toss than recycle.

Well, one company is turning trash to treasure in an effort to change the way textile manufacturing – or theirs at least – impacts the environment, and those who produce it.

Fashion brand Tonlé is based in Cambodia, with customers across the globe. What makes Tonle stand out from other Cambodian clothing manufacturers is two-fold: one, the company hires local women for fair wages and offers humane working conditions and 8-hour workdays – a significant shift from the typical Cambodian garment factory, where producers tend to work long hours in sub-standard conditions for very little compensation.

But the other was Tonle stands out is that it’s considered a “zero waste” manufacturer. According to the company’s website, its design team frequents remnant material markets to scavenge through piles of factory castoffs before they end up in landfills.

Designers work side by side with the production team to plan collections that incorporate even the tiniest scraps into original looks, and excess fabric strips are tediously hand cut and individually sewn back into yarn that is then knit and woven into new pieces.

But as Tonle’s founder Rachel Faller admitted to the Huffington Post, there’s a flip side to taking the hard road when fast fashion often relies on an exploitative supply chain to offer such cheaply made goods. Said Faller, quote: “It’s hard to make money when you’re trying to do it in an ethical way.”

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