Photo: Molly Schikosky/Tammy Zdunich
I don't like waste. I think of the processes the Earth used to create the raw materials; I think of the labour people had to do to form the item; I think about what the useful lifespan of the item could be, will be, and was.
As a sustainable designer, sourcing materials can be difficult. I consider how the product came to be - what it is made of and how it was made. Options must be weighed because in our modern world natural isn't always better and synthetic isn't always scary - especially if it is something nearing the end of its life that you can repurpose and divert from a landfill. We all have to educate ourselves and make decisions that align with our own morals. My morals are simple: choose materials that will have as little negative impact on the earth as possible, buy local and support companies who operate and trade fairly and ethically, and then use 100% of that material.
Tangible ways that I achieve a near-zero (but very very close!) waste business:
- Creating a variety of products that enable me to use 100% of raw materials
- Sourcing unwanted/scrap fabric from trusted estates (clean/smoke-free households where I have a personal relationship with the owners).
- Donation of scraps/materials I don't have a use for to someone who does.
- Re-use of items including packaging & shipping materials where possible; composting of cotton, linen, and Tencel scraps; recycling when things have reached their true end of life - including metal recycling for spent rotary blades, broken needles, etc.
- Sustainable packaging/labelling of items for sale (plastic security tags eliminated in summer of 2020 and replaced with compostable cotton weaving scrap yarn). Use of recycled paper bags and a recycled paper tag to encourage reuse of the bag - as opposed to printing or stamping my logo directly onto the bag.
Amanda Brown is a sustainable textile artist from Saskatoon, SK. Originally a fashion designer using commercial textiles, in 2020, she transitioned into making her items from her own hand-made fabrics. Having the flexibility to customize every aspect of the textile design is what makes dyeing, spinning, and weaving fibres so appealing to Amanda. Her studio practice operates using zero-waste principles – all fibre scrapes are repurposed, recycled into new yarn, or composted depending on the quality and fibre content; all product packaging is recyclable and/or compostable.
In addition to making everyday items, Amanda also enjoys the opportunity to create wearable art pieces from unusual materials. She has participated in past Saskatchewan Wearable Art Galas, winning 1st placed Open Category in 2015 for her wool felt, leather, and bottle cap street cape; as well as 1st place at SkirtsAFire Edmonton in 2018 for her grain bag, produce bag, and linen skirt.
Being a part of the community and giving back through volunteerism is important to Amanda. She currently volunteers with the Library of Things YXE – a local community group that lends household items such as small kitchen appliances or tools instead of books. She is also the 2023/24 Chair of the Saskatoon Spinners and Weavers Guild, and a member of the Guild of Canadian Weavers.