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Article: What is Zero Waste fashion?

A woman wearing jeans and a jumper with foliage in her pocket
Business For Good

What is Zero Waste fashion?

An estimated 350,000 tonnes of clothing go into landfill in the UK every year!

Circular and Zero Waste fashion is all about finding ways to keep these materials in the useful cycle for as long as possible, through recycling, re-use, and/or composting.

A selection of zero waste swaps

The main difference between zero waste fashion, and other zero waste swaps is that the manufacturing of garments plays a big role in their zero waste story too! By design, clothes are reusable and so zero waste fashion focused more on how they were made, what materials were used, were the patterns optimised to reduce fabric waste and what is the lifecycle of the garment - where does it end up?

There is also an element of zero waste fashion that comes from wearing, repairing and shopping sustainably to reduce overall textile waste. 

Here's what we're doing to make sure our underwear is as zero-waste as it can be!

Our Manufacturing & Materials

A woman lays on her side, facing away from the camera, wearing a black bralette and boy shorts matching set

Every piece of Y.O.U underwear is made from Fairtrade and GOTS certified organic cotton that is PETA-Approved vegan. As conventional cotton is one of the most polluting crops, we made a conscious decision to use only fully certified organic cotton. 

Our manufacturer uses low-impact, fibre-reactive dyes that are safe and GOTS certified. They contain no heavy metals or other known toxic substances and meet all EU criteria for eco-friendly garments.

We ensure that our patterns and garments are cut effectively, and we have very minimal off-cuttings, which reduces textile waste. 

Our Packaging

Every order is packaged in reusable,100% organic cotton bags, then parcelled in a biodegradable mailer made from 100% recycled materials. We offer a discount for those who already have, or don't need the organic cotton bag that protects their underwear, to ensure we're not creating any extra waste!



Turning Our Packaging into Earrings⠀

To further our zero-waste commitments, we partnered with London based jeweller, YagoEco, to turn our recycled plastic mailing bags into beautiful green recycled plastic earrings!

Textile Waste & Our Underwear Recycling Scheme

In case you haven't heard, we now have a Zero Waste Box™ by @terracycleuk, so you can responsibly dispose of your old Y.O.U underwear (as well as socks, tights and pants from any other brand!)​​​​​​​​
By introducing a take-back scheme, we are now responsible for the entire lifespan of our undergarments, from production to disposal. This means we can ensure that worn Y.O.U underwear is repurposed, instead of entering landfill.​​​​​​​​

Terracycle Box in the Shop

We're not quite a fully circular brand yet, but we do have plans to be. Currently, because our underwear is made from mixed materials, Terracycle down-cycle them into industry materials, such as insulation, which cannot be recycled again after use. We know it's not a perfect solution but it is better than being thrown in the bin.​​​​​​​​
In the future, we want to introduce a fibre-to-fibre recycling scheme which would allow worn underwear to be recycled and repurposed into new textiles a number of times. This is currently not feasible, both because textile recycling is still in its infancy and existing schemes are very expensive for a brand of our size.​​​​​​​​

Want to learn more about zero-waste living? 

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