Super scrap busting

We spoke to Jess Schreiber, founder of New York-based charity FABSCRAP, to discover how the organisation saves leftover fabric from heading to landfill and instead offers it to scrapaholics like us!


Camilla Tagle (left), Director of Reuse Partnerships and Jess Schreiber (right) founder of FABSCRAP

Prior to launching FABSCRAP I worked at the New York City Department of Sanitation. I was running the City’s clothing recycling programme. During my time there, designers from fashion companies would reach out hoping they could use the clothing recycling programme for their fabric waste. Since it wasn’t the right fit for the city’s programme, which focuses on used garments not unused fabric, I started to look into other options. There weren’t any! We so often think that companies don’t care about the environment; I didn’t want to tell these designers that nothing could be done. So I started putting together an organisation that could help address pre-consumer textile waste. I knew it would need to be convenient and easy to participate. I also wanted the industry to help fund the solution. There are a lot of moving parts!

I knew companies would understand and appreciate the service. I thought most of the fabric would be too small to be of use to anyone, so found partners who could shred it into insulation. What was most surprising was the volume of beautiful, high-quality fabric we received by the yard and by the roll! We keep nearly 50% of all fabric for reuse. It’s been incredible to meet so many students, teachers, artists, crafters, makers, quilters and sewists who see the added benefit of using our ‘saved-from-landfill’ fabric! In our first year we provided a service to over 100 brands and saved nearly 70,000lbs from landfill or incineration.

So far, the biggest challenge has been keeping up with demand – both for service and for fabric! We rely on volunteer help to sort incoming fabric from our partner companies, and we can never sort fast enough! We need all the volunteer help we can get. As a thank you for spending time at FABSCRAP, we let volunteers leave with five pounds of fabric for free.

We just relocated our facility to Brooklyn Army Terminal which makes us much more accessible to volunteer sorters and shoppers! We’re hoping to double the number of companies receiving service, double the volunteers from last year, and expand our fabric thrift store with pop-up shops and an expanded online selection. Our goal is to reach as many people as possible with information on textile waste and inspire everyone to get involved.


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