We live in a wasteful society. Across industries, our mass consumer culture has also created a culture of massive waste. It is estimated that globally, we waste upwards of one-third of the food produced for human consumption. And even if at home we work hard to not waste our food, single-use packaging also contributes to an incredible amount of waste. Every hour in the U.S. Americans use 3 million plastic bottles, and only about 30% of those end up being recycled, the rest of it ends up in landfills and oceans.
The same goes for our clothes. Between 2000 and 2014 clothing production doubled. We keep our clothes for shorter amounts of time than we did before, and today in the U.S. we throw away around 15 billion tons of textiles every year.
For some, the enormous problem of waste has been a catalyst for innovative initiatives to come up with waste solutions. Such is the case with Zero Waste Daniel. Launched by designer Daniel Silverstein, the brand produces fabric and clothing made from 100% garment waste – basically the scraps that result from making clothes – challenging the conventional wasteful fashion industry with new alternatives and the idea of “harvests.”
Knowing the impact of waste, Silverstein recently branched out and opened Package Free, a store dedicated to helping people live zero waste lifestyles. Along with co-founder Lauren Singer of Trash is for Tossers, Silverstein is challenging people to rethink waste and how to retool our lives to reduce our impact.
We caught up with him to learn more.
In both food and fashion, we throw so much away, from produce gone bad at the bottom of our refrigerator to a pair of jeans that has a hole in them. Why do you think that we as a society have become so wasteful?
I think that our capitalistic culture takes advantage of the idea that products are disposable and that resources are infinite, when it fact we can spend more on quality goods and on services to repair and care for them instead of endlessly replacing them.
What inspired you to launch a zero waste fashion brand?
The idea that everything has been done in fashion has really bothered me and during the course of my education and internships, I noticed how wasteful the industry was while also becoming aware of the concept of zero waste design, which at the time had not been done on a mass scale and was very hippie, earth friendly. When I started out my company in 2010 I was very aware of climate change and knew I wanted it to make an impact. Why would anyone start a company without a greater purpose?
You recently opened Package Free, a store dedicated to promoting a zero waste lifestyle. Can you tell us a little more about the inspiration behind the space and hat you plan to do with it?
The inspiration behind Package Free was to bring mission driven brands and tools to live a zero waste lifestyle into one place to make sustainable living easier, more fun, sexier, and get rid of the notion that its for hippies and unattractive. With the space we are doing three things, providing information for consumers, tools for them to use and using the store as a community center for all kinds of people to gather, meet, discuss and learn.
How have you chosen the brands that you offer in Package Free?
In picking our brands we look for best practices in every industry as well as the ability to be shipped/sold in reusable, recyclable or no packaging.
What are some of the ways we as individuals can start to change our attitudes towards waste?
It’s in two parts, one is thinking about preparedness and planning for re-use such as bringing reusable coffee cups and utensils with you and the other is to stop throwing things out and questioning if the product’s packaging is recyclable, can you find another use for it, and if not do you really need it?
Learn more about Daniel’s Package Free shop here!