Waste Not, Want Not: FABSCRAP Founder Jessica Schreiber on Reusing and Recycling
The textile industry has a waste problem and FABSCRAP aims to be an easy and creative solution. Founded by Jessica Schreiber, a contestant on Project Runway Fashion Startup, FABSCRAP provides convenient pickup and recycling of textiles for businesses in New York City.
The process is simple: Companies fill reusable bags (black for proprietary materials and beige for everything else) and calls or e-mails to schedule a pick-up. FABRSCRAP collects the fabric scraps, cuttings, headers, mock-ups, samples, overstock, production remnants and other unwanted excess fabric, and then stores the waste at its sorting center in Queens.
Students, artists, crafters, quilters, teachers, and other designers can shop the warehouse to reuse the scraps, while some larger pieces are sold online. Small scraps and all material from black bags are shredded to create products like insulation, carpet padding, and furniture blankets.
“My hope is that FABSCRAP becomes a one-stop resource for both brands and designers looking to recycle and the creative community wanting to reuse material,” Schreiber said.
We caught up with Schreiber to learn more about her vision for FABSCRAP and how she supports sustainable fashion.
Texworld: Who can benefit from FABSCRAP?
Jessica: For the recyclers, I would like to be able to provide service during both the design and production processes. Hopefully they can redirect all requests for excess fabric to FABSCRAP, which can provide a selection of reusable fabric from numerous companies at once. For the reusers, I would like to not only provide fabric in a sustainable manner, but create stories around the awesome, innovative projects happening in New York City. For both groups, I hope I’m a resource for information and data on commercial textile waste and creating transparency around the current challenges, exploring all potential solutions. In the next few years I would love to develop FABSCRAP in Los Angeles, where there is also a hub of design, manufacturing and artisans.
Texworld: Which brands are leaders in sustainability?
Jessica: Patagonia is really making a business case for sustainable choices in sourcing and production. Eileen Fisher has some of the highest standards for environmentally responsible materials. Mara Hoffman is making huge strides in the sustainable world as well.
Texworld: Where do you shop for sustainable apparel?
Jessica: I know this isn’t the answer most people want to hear, but I actually try to avoid shopping. I’ve been mindful about purchasing pretty standard or classic pieces, so that I can wear them longer and in different ways. I still wear clothing that I’ve had since I was in grad school. If I have to have something, I try to research options first, and choose independent, local designers whose values match my own. I now buy things expecting to keep them for years and years, so I want to make sure they are made to last.
Texworld: Where do you go for information on sustainability?
Jessica: I try to work with, speak with, and meet people who are working in or studying sustainability. There is only so much research you can do on your own! Surrounding myself with people who are seeking answers creates a network of information. Even hearing others thoughts and interpretations of the same figures can bring about new insights. But more specifically, for fashion I read Magnefico, Sustainable Apparel Coalition (Higg Index), Cradle 2 Cradle’s Fashion Positive Initiative and Ethical Fashion Forum. Some of my favorite books are: Overdressed and Travels of a T-shirt. For waste and recycling, I read Waste Dive, Waste 360, SMART (Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles) and EPA. Some of my favorite books are: The Story of Stuff, Recycled Reconsidered, Waste and Want. For New York City and New York State specific information, I turn to DSNY, NYSAR and The Manhattan SWAB.
Texworld: What do you do in your everyday life to be more sustainable?
Jessica: I’m one of those people who will carry paper and plastic bottles around until I can find a place to recycle them. I’m working on separating my food waste and bringing it to the green market for composting. Obviously I make sure any clothing I no longer want is donated or recycled. In general, I try not to buy or use things I don’t really need. It’s easier being in NYC where I can walk to most places and public transportation is the expectation.