Zero Waste Design


Zero waste is a design concept as well as a lifestyle philosophy that aims to reduce waste and to promote recycling at all stages of a product cycle. A product is made with the idea embedded in its design to be easily dismantled, repaired, or recycled and reused. Zero Waste design is a break-through in design, an innovative new way of how humankind will produce products sustainability.


The Zero Waste International Alliance came up with a universally agreed upon definition, written first on November 29, 2004 and updated on August 12 2009.

“Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.

Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.

Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.”



Zero waste in fashion design allows for creating a garment with no waste or minimal fabric waste. The idea of zero-waste design has existed in history as seen in traditional clothing such as the sarong, sari, the kimono, where its silhouette and patterns minimize waste, such as rectangular sleeves and block pieces, wrapping for shape allowing for the re-use of fabric.

Today, the challenge is to cut patterns out of fabric economically and yet still produce stylish garments without any excess material thrown away that ends up in landfills.

There are a number of designers now practicing the zero-waste concept, notably Timo Rissanen and Holly Mcquillan who wrote a book on the subject (Zero Waste Fashion Design).

Sharifa Jamaldin