Waste Up: A Sustainable Way to Repurpose Fast Fashion’s Overstock

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Let’s talk about fast fashion.

Fast fashion is among the top 10 most polluting industries in the world. On top of that, fashion waste is expected to be a 148 million ton problem by 2030, with clothing ending up in an incinerator or landfill.

Giant companies like H&M and Zara are in the business of making as much as possible. Just last year, H&M reported a $4.3 billion pile of unsold inventory.

We’re living in a fast fashion ‘Throwaway Era’ with a mounting problem of overstock. So what is there to do about it?

As a consumer, we can make more environmentally conscious decisions around our purchasing habits:

  • Upcycle your favourite jeans into a skirt

  • Buy secondhand or vintage, and shop at thrift stores

  • Only choose classic pieces you know you’ll wear more than 30 times

  • Sell or donate your pre-loved items

  • Buy quality clothing and mend them as necessary

These are all steps in the right direction. But can we go further? What if there was a sustainable method for the fast fashion giants to reuse their own overstock?

Introducing the Waste Up solution

Waste Up is a method of using deadstock to create yardage, and selling it back to the fast fashion companies for them to reuse and profit from.

This solution has the least carbon, water, and oil footprint. But it is not just sustainable—it’s also scaleable and profitable for fast fashion brands, making it that much more appealing for them to adopt into their business model.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Waste Up creates yardage from any unsold inventory from fast fashion companies

  2. Fast fashion retailers then buy the Waste Up fabric at cost

  3. Waste Up sells the yardage in the market for profit

  4. Profits go to clean water initiatives like Save the Rivers society that are set up to prevent eco-destruction from the fashion industry

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How Waste Up is earth-changing

The process of creating Waste Up fabric has a zero carbon and water footprint, and the method keeps textiles from being incinerated with no toxins being released into the air.

Let’s take H&M’s $4.8 billion overstock. If 20% is denim, that’s approximately 3.3 million units. If the unsold inventory was turned into Waste Up fabric, 95 billion gallons of water would be saved.

0 chemicals.
0 carbon waste.
0 gallons of water used.
100% locally driven.

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The benefit for fast fashion companies

It’s a big move for the industry of fast fashion. But consumer habits and ideals are changing—especially the younger generation. Gen Z wants to align themselves with a purpose-driven company, and they believe in brands addressing environmental issues.

Not only can a fast fashion retailer become an overnight eco-fashion leader with Waste Up, but they can spearhead an environmental campaign that speaks to this target demographic about working towards fixing the detrimental impact of tons of deadstock.

With Waste Up, fast fashion companies can address (and profit from) a crucial initiative and purpose-driven movement towards eco-fashion while still working within their existing business model.

What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear how you are limiting your fashion waste and your comments on this new solution to fast fashion’s overstock.

Join the conversation on Instagram at @thecutfashionacademy.

Liza Deyrmenjian