Garments we usually wear are cut in a way that it may result in very specific pattern shapes. These pattern shapes restrict their reuse unless they are quite large or are remade from components of other garments.
"Zero waste" is therefore a sustainable approach to pattern cutting, that is to say, creating patterns that use all the available cloth when cutting a garment.
A distinguished model
Madame Vionnet (1876-1975) cut her garments using simple geometric shapes - mainly squares and rectangles - for the benefit of drape. Nowadays this could be considered a sustainable practice as the fabric shapes could be reused for other garments.
Geometry in pattern cutting: a Seamly2d tutorial
Seamly2D is a free and opensource patternmaking program for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It allows independent patternmakers and designers to profitably scale their small batch clothing production.
In this video, my Creative Assistant shows how to obtain a zero waste pattern starting from drawing a simple square.