Some of the more thoughtful brands out there are starting to catch on that not only is it important to use sustainable materials, but it's also crucial to be conscious of how much of it goes to waste during the manufacturing process. Nike, for example, has a whole line of shoes that's designed from discarded material, and Apple's new Macbook is cut from a single piece of aluminum, with the remains going straight to the recycling plant, not the landfill.

Then there are the entrepreneurial individuals taking matters into their own hands, going into the workrooms of un-environmentally conscious manufacturers, picking up after them, and making a buck by selling material that would otherwise have been dumped in the trash. One such company is Modern Fabrics, which reclaims new designer interior fabrics from the cutting room floors of luxury furniture manufacturers in North Carolina, and sells them for up to 75% of the retail price. Pieces are available in smaller yardage than traditional retail (some are just 1 yard long, but others are available in over 15 yard quantities), but for small projects, this is a great way to go.

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