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FEB 2021: Project Development Update

Dear community,

Here at Zero Waste Design Online we (Mylène, Cass, Danielle and Holly) believe that transparency and building commons are vital. They have an important role to play in the future of social, environmental and economic progress and innovation. We also believe in the importance of providing a space for open dialogue in order to collectively transform our ways of thinking, designing, making, and being in the world.

So, today we’d like to share with you some more information about the ZWDO development process and explain to you how we work together, what the different stages are that we have been going through as a newborn international organisation, and what goes on in our team meetings. We’re excited to open up the process and give you an overview of where we are currently, where we want to go next and how we intend to achieve this community’s collective ambition!

For now we’ve chosen a monthly blog post format so we have enough space to fully document our experiences. So please - grab a tea or coffee, take a moment to slow down and come along with us on this whirlwind learning journey.

What you’re about to read is a compilation of our Co-founders thoughts, this month written by Mylène. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts at the bottom of this page - we always welcome feedback from the community!


Reflecting on 2020

“I feel like 2020 was kind of a crash test period for ZWDO. Only after a few Zoom calls we decided on a new journey together with a clear ambition of where we want to go. To collectively transform the textile industry through open dialogue around garment construction, pattern cutting, design methods and innovative use of technology.” - Mylène


Before ZWDO, we didn’t know each other properly. Holly and Cass were already friends, Danielle and I met once when she lived in London but we didn’t know how this group would work on a short/mid/long term basis.

And yet still our collective aim was obviously clear.

But then came questions: how do we do this, where should we start from? Knowing how complex the industry is, and the little funds and time we have available, we realised there would be a lot of learning as the project evolved.

Committed to creating change, we started to meet once a week on Thursday nights, 2 hours from 7pm to 9pm CET. (That’s the best time slot we’ve found considering Danielle lives now in Portland, 9 hours difference!) We spent our first meeting talking about our experiences, our individual visions, trying to structure a collective manifesto, what we want to offer, how we would communicate about this project publicly and trying also to figure out what could be achievable within the limited time each of us has.

Though our lives were quite busy, and despite the global pandemic, in a 5 month window (Aug - Dec) we’ve managed to test a fair few aspects of the project:

  • Hosted 4 online workshops

  • Hosted 3 community calls

  • Found a temporary way to host the collective funds (Open Collective)

  • Built the foundation of our community

  • Communicated in different languages

  • Responded to collaborative industry consultancy opportunities

While at the same time we had to: get to know each other, learn how to work together, listen to one another’s needs and capacity and structure our collaboration in spite of different time zones, personal duties, work habits, language barriers, cultures, administrative constraints, ongoing projects, etc…

It has been such a rich experience. I feel like I have eventually found a space to collaborate with people that use the same ‘language’ and care about the same things I care about on a daily basis. Being French means I’m the only non native English speaker of the team and sometimes it creates a lot of frustrations. I’m not able to express myself as precisely as I would do in my mother tongue and there are plenty of subtleties I don’t get or I don’t manage to convey when we’re discussing practical and philosophical things. But the truth is, even with that barrier, I’ve never experienced this level of satisfaction in my ‘professional interactions’ before, so I’m trying to overcome that progressively.

Being able to work on one of the many tangible environmental solutions that exist while discussing politics, education, sexism, racism, colonialism, hierarchy, mental health, nature, feminism, and alternative systems is such a relief. I’m grateful for this open and safe space we’re creating between the four of us and I hope we’ll find a way to extend that safe space to you all, to everybody that is part of this incredible community.

It really is so important, because this project testing period couldn’t have worked without your support and participation. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm during the workshops, Community Calls, and on socials. It has confirmed our initial feeling that this community and educational resource is much needed and has given us the energy to start dreaming big for 2021.


Dreaming About 2021


January 2021 began as an intense month, especially for Holly who defended her 5 years of work on her PhD thesis on Thursday 21st. We collectively decided to put our weekly meeting on hold to give her space and time to prepare for this once in a lifetime event. She passed with great praise from all and we couldn't be more proud of her!

Then on January 28th we organised our first meeting with the intention to clarify our collective vision and capacity for 2021. Cass and I came up with the idea of organising a different meeting format to be more creative and engaging. A few days before I had discovered Miro and thought it could be a great tool to design a tailored activity board for the team to walk through individually and together to better understand the direction we need to take ZWDO and identify where our time and energy should be directed for the greatest impact. Through a colourful visual of 15 questions we worked our way through our dreams for the future of ZWDO in 2021, and we’re delighted to share this process with you.

We often talk about what could be relevant to provide as an educational platform, but we recognise everybody has different brains and learning methods. Some people like books, others like videos, and others would prefer step by step instructions. Since we are all part of the ZWDO community, I thought the best first question to ask ourselves was ‘How did you actually learn zero waste design?’

Afterwards I thought it could be interesting to map what we’d each like to see on our platform, and then figure out how to help improve that learning process for others. Once the mind mapping was complete we asked ourselves:

3. What are the top 3 priorities?

4. Now forget about priorities, what do you think would be the fastest/easiest to implement?

5. What could bring money to help develop the collective?

Then, before talking about trajectories, I felt it was important to talk first about individual dreams, ambitions, capacity and needs in order to adopt a development pace that is sustainable for all of us.

Browse these thoughts on the interactive Miro board or read on to learn what our next steps were.


Next Steps for ZWDO


As you may imagine, it was difficult to process all these thoughts in only 2 hours. So the following week, while each of us took the time to reflect on our individual energy and capacity, I organised the mind map and came up with a visual diagram to help illustrate our collective vision. This gave us the opportunity to spot what we missed and identify the best opportunities to progress ZWDO and support the community.

So today, we are quite excited to share with you an overview of what we plan to do in the coming years:

  • Develop educational content

  • Connect more people in the community

  • Challenge designers/brands to implement zero waste design practices

  • Teach academic, students, independent designers, home sewers and industry

  • Consult industry on bigger systemic opportunities and challenges

  • Research to further support the community

  • Clarify what needs done to bring about the most change

  • Gather and share educational information on zero waste design

Of course, this requires a lot of project management work including business administration, accounting, funding, social media, community engagement, partnerships, documentation, evaluation and translation. Our larger vision of transforming the fashion industry through the provision of accessible and inclusive online educational resources will of course not happen overnight, but with a clear ambition and the support of an international community we know we will get there together, no matter how long it takes us.


Our Roadmap for the Next 3 Months

Considering our individual work capacities, below (and on Miro) is an overview of what we’d like to do over the next 3 months. From this we’d like to ask: are you interested in contributing somehow? How could you help us meet these targets or go beyond? We’re always looking to collaborate so please get in touch on our Instagram @zwdo_collective or email ZWDO to get involved and discuss how we can work together.

Anyway, we hope you found this insight into our minds, project development and learning journey interesting and would be very grateful for any feedback in the comments. Feel free to use our Miro board template if you find it relevant for your project - it’s free of charge.

As a reminder, we run ZWDO on a very small budget and dedicate our own time and money to keep the platform as educational and engaging as possible for as many people as possible. We would be extremely grateful if you are able to make a donation to contribute to the ongoing development of Zero Waste Design Online. You can donate to ZWDO by clicking Donate in our website's menu.

Thank you for reading and for your ongoing support!




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