An exciting part of the Fair Trade and ethical-sustainable movement is all the innovative ways people are finding to break the harmful patterns that consumerism has led us to. Humans are so resourceful! As people are becoming more aware of the global problem of fast fashion and its unjust labor practices they’ve created companies that come at the issue from all sorts of directions. Tonlé is one such company that has found an ingenious way to create amazing, one-of-a-kind clothing pieces while reducing not only their own waste, but also the waste of other large factories.
Tonlé believes that “Every Thread Matters”. They start with the fabric scraps and cast-offs deemed unusable by large factories, and end up using every thread to create a new category in the clothing world: zero-waste fashion. Seriously, they don’t throw away even a thread! This is possible primarily through two methods: First, intentionally designing clothing patterns that can utilize smaller remnants and won’t create a lot of scrap themselves, and second, using the excess fabric that does result and making yarn to weave into, yup, more clothing pieces! This only leaves about 3% waste (drastically reduced from the 40% of a traditional factory!), but that’s not good enough for Tonlé. The 3% consisting of little threads and used paper patterns are ground up to make recycled paper for the clothing tags. Any fabric or notions that cannot be gathered from recycled remnants-about 10% of the needed materials in Tonlé products- are sourced from local and sustainable sources including local handicraftsmen. Dyes and screen-printing ink are all natural and non-toxic to prevent pollution of water sources. Packaging is also made from recycled materials. We are talking zero waste.
Fair Trade Practices in Cambodia
Aside from the material aspects of their clothing, Tonlé also supports fair labor and building up local communities. They employ Cambodian women in a supportive working environment that teaches confidence and new skills. Every item purchased is signed by one of these women whose hands carefully produced each original piece. Tonlé has also partnered with social enterprise like the Cambodian Weaving Village and Sonas World to weave smallest scraps into unique signature fabrics. Employing these women also allows for the handmade touch that makes Tonlé clothing so special.
Tonlé has covered all their bases in trying to have “the smallest environmental footprint and maximum social benefit, while providing you with a beautiful garment”. Go to their website at tonle.com to check out their original dresses, tops, bottoms, and cute scarves and totes which saved material from landfills, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and millions gallons of water from being waste only leaving the smallest carbon imprint possible. “Style is more than what you wear - it’s what you choose to be a part of. “ Zero-waste fashion. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that?