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Zero Waste by Zero Design
By Bo Gyeong Yang | 승인 2020.06.02 11:48|(265호)

The 'fast fashion' era is coming to an end whereas ecofriendly products are rising in the clothing industry. Fast fashion is characterized by cheap fashion, which discarded over time. Now, fast fashion aims for environmentally friendly fashion, so-called conscious consumption, which shows its self-identity by wearing clothes or a brand that has built an eco-friendly image, even if it is expensive.

In the fashion industry, environmental protection is now an inevitable challenge. Millions of liters of waste water and billions of tons of carbon are emitted in the process of extracting, coloring, and cutting the fabric to single product. In other words, fast fashion phenomenon that reflects the latest trend has become a greater impact on environmental pollution. Fast fashion companies have become the target of criticism for speeding up environmental pollution by using synthetic fibers to sell their clothes at affordable prices. The fibers such as nylon, acrylic, and polyester do not break down easily. The fashion industry has become the second most polluting industry after oil industry. There are voices of self-reflection that it is urgent to come up with measures to protect the environment.

'Fashion Fact' at G7 summit held in France in August reflects this voice. 150 brands belonging to 32 global fashion companies including H&M, Prada, and North Face have gathered voluntarily and officially declared that they will make efforts to resolve the environmental pollution problem. These fashion companies have adopted the G7 Fashion Convention, a new rule that agrees to stop using plastic altogether and stop greenhouse gas emissions altogether by 2050. Currently, the government implements the Environmental Technology and Environmental Industry Support Act (Act No. 15845) to promote the development, support, and distribution of environmental technologies and foster the environment industry. The purpose of the policy is to preserve the environment, promote green growth, develop sustainable environment industries, and promote recycling in Korea.

Meanwhile, there is a clothing brand in Korea that challenges zero percent of waste, named Zero Design. Zero Design is one of the brands of a design company called Zero Space Inc. Through the website, they define social design in four ways. ‘Identifying the nature of social problems and presenting solutions for structural change’, ‘Activities that infuse positive energy into society by adding creative ideas to the process of problem solving’, ‘Positive design that changes society by turning the problems into a new opportunity’, and ‘Useful social tools for those who want to change themselves, their neighbors and those who want to coexist with nature and co these designs community’. They practice sustainable design through their product brand Zero Design. In the Zero Space Inc’s interview, the first product was a cushion named "Zero Cushion" which is made from used cloth thrown  away from a sewing factory. Heard that a large amount of cloth was discarded in other areas, they thought it would be a good opportunity to make a design product using it. The idea of a zero cushion with a used cloth in a vinyl came from a garbage bag throwing away a used cloth.

At first, they doubted whether the cushions would be sold. There were also concerns that some consumers might be reluctant to use discarded cloth. However, the results were more positive than expected. Including individuals, designers made large purchases of 200 to 300 items at a time with interior purposes. In the interview, they observed 'Zero Waste' that considers environment in all processes from product planning to disposal without making as much cloth as possible. Also, zero waste products are manufactured in off-season, so the clothes could be made in a systematic production management and in highquality. Moreover, customers can wear clothes that are more durable than ordinary clothes, while at the same time experiencing environmentally friendly designs for a reason. If existing clothing produces more than 30% cloth waste, the zero design has been reduced to less than 5%. Their goal is to connect local production with new brands and create a sustainable win-win ecosystem for small factories and creators.

The fast fashion industry accounts for 10 percent of the world's greenhouse gas. It is because air pollution is so severe that most people depend on incineration in the process of disposing of clothes. As a result, the earth is becoming a huge landfill. Secondary environmental pollution is also expanding. It reported that 35 percent of the fish found near the trash islands are already contaminated with plastic waste. Contaminated creatures will threaten the survival of mankind beyond the sea. In other words, it will eventually become a poison to humans. So the problem of waste disposal is one of the biggest challenges the world needs to solve. The efforts should be made to reduce waste by actively introducing ecofriendly biodegradable materials when manufacturing goods. Make the necessary items but consider when they are discarded after use. That is why we need a
design that leaves nothing behind, zero design.

By Bo Gyeong Yang  press.cnu.ac.kr

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