FABSCRAP is New York’s largest fashion recycling organization, and I am more than here for it. If you need some fabric, check out their mixed yard packs or individual fabrics for sale on their site. If you’re local to New York, I highly recommend volunteering at their warehouse and scoring some free fabric. If you’re not a sewer or crafter, show some love to the brands who are participating in FABSCRAP’s efforts. For all my fashionistas, I encourage you to ask your favorite brands what they do with their textile waste. Landfilling it is super bad, but recycling scraps is 100% FAB!
FABSCRAP’s entire foundation is built off of recycling textile waste– and they’re doing an A+ job. They identify and sort each type of fabric they receive by fiber content, including any mixed-in tags, paper, pins, staples, zippers, or buttons.
They proudly have a dedicated “Who’s Fab” page on their site, with names you may know such as Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, J. Crew, Noah, Express, Steve Madden, Macy’s, and about 500+ more brands that they provide service and/or material for. They collect these fabrics on an optimized route but do release some emissions for these drive-by pickups.
They also allow for individuals to recycle their scraps locally at their Manhattan or Brooklyn locations for a low service fee of $1.50/lb, so anyone can be sustainable about their fabric scraps!
On their website, FABSCRAP explains the issue of scale of recycling textile waste, which as you can imagine is obviously a big issue with the fashion district in New York City. See, the problem in most cases is that if a design office wanted to recycle their unwanted fabric, they often don’t come close to meeting the minimum volume required by industrial fabric recyclers. By working with multiple designers, FABSCRAP is able to meet these minimum volumes for recycling and stop fabric that would otherwise become landfill. Any excess fabric or sewing accessories are offered on their website in Yard/Scrap Packs, sold individually by the yard, or offered up on their Instagram stories. If you decide to make a purchase, the fabric must be shipped, which does require some emissions, and waste for packaging. I am unsure if their shipments are carbon-neutral or they use recyclable packaging, but these are easy transitions that don’t turn me off from their overall message.
The comparable sourcing of typical fabric stores, such as JOANN Fabrics, Amazon, or Etsy, often comes from anonymous manufacturers in China. The production of such fabrics requires fossil fuels– a BIG no– and inherently creates fabric waste.
Any proprietary material, meaning anything with a logo, trademark, etc., FABSCRAP receives, is shredded along with small scraps to create insulation, carpet padding, furniture lining, etc. They also sort fabric that is 100% cotton, polyester, or wool to utilize what they call ‘fiber-to-fiber' technology– sounds high-tech!
FABSCRAP is a 501(c)3 charitable organization, and the services fee they are given to recycle brands’ materials actually allows them to give away fabric to students, artists, local designers, and crafters to reuse. We love some wholesome support for our artist & creator community!
FABSCRAP is dependent on an engaged community of volunteers because as you can imagine, textile sorting requires a lot of work! Each volunteer session is 3 hours at their warehouse in Brooklyn and once completed, volunteers qualify for 5 pounds of free fabric plus a 30% discount on any additional material OR 5 yards of free fabric from their shop in Manhattan OR they will waive the fee for recycling up to 10 lbs of personal sewing scraps. Overall, they are clearly super accommodating and do their best to encourage volunteers.