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Empowering Our Communities To Redesign

Up-shirt, the t-shirt with the world’s smallest environmental footprint

Thousands of public events such as concerts, sports events or festivals print t-shirts for that occasion and after being worn only once they are relegated to the closet. Imagine the amounts of water required for the production of those millions of t-shirts!

The Up-shirt Kickstarter campaign was launched last weekend and has as a goal to mass produce t-shirts made entirely of manufacturing leftovers.

Thanks to new up-cycling design and production methods it is now possible to organise the mass production of a t-shirt with a 80% smaller environmental footprint. How?

The thing is, factory made t-shirts yield up to 40% wastage. That means 40% of that cotton is grown in vain and huge amounts of water and earth resources are wasted, not to mention spinning the yarn, transporting the fabric, factory labour … you get the idea.

It’s taken years of hard work and research but Upmade came up with a design and production model to mass produce t-shirts using that leftover 40%. They believe that if they can show the world that mass up-cycling works, they could really change how the fashion industry impacts the environment.

This experience was one of the Zero Waste ideas that was presented during the event “Beyond Recycling: Towards a Zero Waste Europe” which took part in the European Parliament in March 2013, we wish to all the luck in this enterprise!



The back story

Reet Aus is a fashion designer and environmentalist. She has been up-cycling her own fashion collections for many years, as well as designing costumes (also upcycled) for theatre and film.

Recently Reet completed her PhD in sustainable fashion design. Her research took her to Bangladesh, where she began working with a factory called Beximco. Beximco make garments for many well known brands, and in the process accumulate a LOT of waste fabrics. But Reet didn’t see a mountain of garbage, she saw treasure! And she set to work.

Reet gathered her team of experts, and together we took cutting leftovers (8-30%), roll ends (1-10%) and over production (3-5%) and got creative. The result is the up-shirt.

Slovenia starts walking the Zero Waste path


600 people turned up to watch the movie Trashed last Monday 21st of October in Ljubljana and many stayed to follow the first round table discussion about Zero Waste and Slovenia. It was a great success and a big attendance to what is the beginning of the Zero Waste movement in Slovenia.

Slovenia is the EU country that has seen most progress in waste management in the last years; without being locked by incineration capacity and by constantly reducing landfilling is currently recycling more than 35% of its waste. Moreover, with the implementation of door-to-door separate collection in cities such as Ljubljana and by spreading the source separation of organic waste we should be seeing composting rates go up in the next years. The town of Vrhinka is the best performer in the country and recycles 80% of its waste!

The cherry on the cake is that Slovenia is managing to keep low rates of waste generation with its capital Ljubljana averaging less than 350kg of waste generated by inhabitant, 200kg under the European average. All in all, if it continues in this virtuous path Slovenia is likely to become the EU’s frontrunner in the next years.

However, the path towards Zero Waste will not be an easy ride. Despite the progress made in the last years partly thanks to the flexibility of not having big infrastructures pushing down recycling there have been threats to build incinerators in the country. Luckily it looks like the EU will not use cohesion funds to co-finance the incinerator which will allow growing recycling and composting rates and innovation in the prevention side.

Also, despite good initiatives in the field of home-composting and separate collection of organic waste since its roll-out in 2012 it remains to be seen how the rates will continue to increase. Finally, the application of Extended Producer Responsibility in the country still poses many challenges because the producers refuse to pay for 100% of the collection of the waste they put in the market. However, seeing the interest and passion of the attendants to the screening and the debate one should trust that these challenges will be overtaken soon.


EU Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potocnik addressed the audience after the movie with a recorded message and opened the debate that followed. In this debate participated Dr. Andrej Kržan, from the National Institute of Chemistry; Janko Kramžar, Director of Snaga, Ljubljana’s municipal waste management company; Uroš Macerl, president of the NGO Eko Krog (Eco Circle) and Joan Marc Simon, Executive Director of Zero Waste Europe. In the audience there were many people from civil society but also entrepreneurs and progressive waste and social companies which show that many see the economic opportunities that will open if Slovenia decides to walk the Zero Waste path.


Following the example of Zero Waste initiatives in other parts of Europe the organisers, Ecologists without Borders, will now create a platform where policy makers, civil society, NGOs, green companies and waste management sector can work together to phase waste out of the system.

To see the pics of the event click here.

And coverage by national Slovenian TV.
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