In the US, nearly 12 billion pounds of textile waste ends up in landfills every year (EPA, 2008) and about half of that is non-biodegradable polyester. As organic cotton still uses a great deal of water and organic fertilizer, it is only part of the solution. Cambodia has masses of garment factory waste and second hand clothing being dumped from abroad, and KeoK’jay turns these into new garments. Typical manufacturers (even ones using environmentally friendly raw materials) waste fabric in an effort to save the more expensive resource of time. KeoK’jay takes the opposite approach, spending more time cutting and organizing scraps tossed aside by larger manufacturers and utilizing them to create innovative designs. KeoK’jay products are designed green from the beginning; designers even plan how many products in a collection need to be made from scrap fabric in order to offset the pieces that are cut from larger pieces of fabric. KeoK’jay is unique in doing this, even amongst fair trade and green designers, because designers work so closely with producers. The chart below demonstrates how Keok’jay uses even the smallest pieces of fabric and as a result generates a very small amount of waste.

Approximately 70% of KeoK’jay’s products derive from recycled materials including secondhand clothing and garment factory cast-offs, vintage buttons, cement bags, newspapers, and cardboard. At current production, about 2,250 kilos of products per year are recycled. Another 20% of materials come from locally made, sustainable materials such as organic cotton, bamboo, and naturally dyed materials. Only 5% are new industrial materials, such as thread and zippers.

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