Tying the Knot on Material Reuse

Knotzland bowtie

Photo: Knotzland

Read the full version of this article in TrimTab.

In the wide world of material reuse, sometimes a solution is born from a chance meeting between conference sessions. It’s not the most magical stumble-upon-a-soul-mate encounter, but the real world dictates a more practical timetable. And that is how a bowtie entrepreneur and an office furniture maker became sustainability partners in crime.

The two manufactures couldn’t occupy more different industries. Based in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood, Knotzland creates stylish bow ties from repurposed and reclaimed fabrics. “Upon understanding the harmful effects of the fashion industry,” said founder Nisha Blackwell, “Knotzland set out to divert as much textile waste as possible from entering landfills while raising awareness around the importance of conscious consumerism.” Knotzland is a startup venture, and all production is contained to one workshop.

On the other hand, Humanscale is a large furniture company committed to ergonomics and workplace well-being. It’s the first company to achieve all 20 Imperatives of the Living Product Challenge, and occupies several technologically sophisticated factories throughout the U.S.  As Sustainability Coordinator Alex Tselepis casually walked through the convention center, he was instantly attracted to Knotzland’s display of bow ties.

“I happen to be a bow tie man, so I naturally drifted to the Knotzland display. The variety of materials and patterns was something unique to the bowtie experience.”

The connection was instantaneous. Nisha shared how she sourced her materials, partnering with artists, designers, and upholstery shops. Alex was looking for a solution for their textile waste problem. And so Knotzland’s first large-scale fabric partnership came to be.

“Humanscale is one of the leading companies in the Living Product space, and their remnants allow us to scale while adhering to our core commitments of sustainability and resource conservation. There is huge room for supply chain development as we all we understand our places in the circular economy,” explained Nisha.

Tackling some of the world’s biggest problems starts with some of the smallest collaborations. While competition may drive business, collaboration toward a common goal provides a sense of community, inspiration, and innovation.

To learn more about sustainable manufacturing, join ILFI’s Living Product Hub on May 22nd for an in-depth look at material transparency and accountability.

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