Challenging the Fast Fabric Industry: A Zero Fabric Waste Campus


The fast fashion industry creates environmental, humanitarian, and economic problems by selling inexpensive, poor-quality products, causing pollution during and after manufacturing, and encouraging throw-away culture. This research aimed to understand industry forces and consumer behavior while developing a process for diverting textile waste from landfills. Data gathered through surveys revealed cost as the leading factor among college students in clothing purchases. Additionally, students were deterred from sustainable habits such as upcycling and mending their own clothes due to a lack of time and skill. However, they were willing to make changes to behaviors as long as it was convenient. We also tested the feasibility of establishing a zero-fabric waste campus by collecting textiles and sorting them for redistribution for upcycling, donation, and recycling. The goal was to create a comprehensive blueprint for residential communities like universities to recreate a system as convenient as curbside recycling. More than 700 pounds of textiles were collected and diverted from landfills by donating them back to community organizations and giving them a second chance. As a result, we provided a channel for college students to act on their knowledge of fast-fashion clothing. This zero-fabric waste system has the potential to be highly successful given the attitudes of students determined in our research, who will drive change as a more environmentally conscientious generation.