On an otherwise reasonable evening in July, over 600 people packed an auditorium in Boulder, Colorado, for the culmination of the 2015 Unreasonable Institute. They came to watch 12 ventures take the stage and present their solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges.
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What urgent need do you address?
What you might know is that the majority of the world’s textiles are made from acrylic, spandex, polyester, nylon, and latex. What you probably don’t know is that most of our clothes contain petroleum. For every garment you’re wearing, an equal amount of waste went into a landfill, was dumped into the ocean, or was burned in the process, totaling 50 million tons of garment waste per year. The garment industry is the second largest polluter in the world, dumping exorbitant amounts of toxins into the environment through wasted fabric. Furthermore, the garment industry is known for its exploitation of workers.
What solution do you propose?
We have to wear the change we want to see in the world. Tweet This Quote
Tonlé is an ethical, zero-waste fashion design and production company based in Cambodia. We have developed a process that utilizes garment scraps and turns them into new garments. With smaller strips, we weave them into new fabric to create bags, scarves, and jewelry. With the small amount left over after that, we create paper. Each year, we recycle 22,000 pounds of fabric, saving 154,000 pounds of carbon from going into the atmosphere and 46 million gallons of water. We also pay fair wages, give good benefits, and offer training opportunities for our workers. We have 25 retail partners around the world, four boutiques in Cambodia, and online channels selling to thousands of customers. The only way to change the garment industry is from the inside out, so we make our products comfortable, stylish, and affordable. In order to solve this problem, we have to wear the change we want to see in the world.