Workshop

In this workshop session we discussed which of TEDS TEN strategies towards sustainability most applied to our individual practice. As I am a textiles designer I am focussed on materials, colour, technique and production. Relating this to sustainability issues I could look at:

  • Alternatives to materials that shed artificial micro-fibres. 1
  • Recyclability of materials.   1, 2
  • Alternatives to chemical dying/bleaching and tanning. 3
  • Ways to minimise material wasted in production. 5, 1 
  • Durability of materials 1, 8
  • Fast fashion 1, 7, 8
  • Ethical manufacturing 7, 3

After looking at the issues above I can see that the TEDS TEN strategies that most apply to my practice are:

1) 1- Design to minimise waste. 

2) 3-Design to reduce chemical impacts.

3) 7-Design for ethical production.

4) 8-Design to reduce the need to consume.

5) 2-Design for cyclability.

6) 5-Design that explores clean/better technologies.

For the group task I decided to focus on natural dying. This is something that I have experimented with briefly in my practice but not looked at in much detail. I feel as though dying yarns and fabrics is a key process in producing textiles outcomes because colour is so important in design.

I have looked at using berries to dye, but have no worked out how to set the dye into the fabric so that it won’t wash out. Below is some samples dyed with Mulberries.

The strategy I focussed on for the group task was 3-Design to reduce chemical impacts.  Firstly we discussed the impacts that we were aware of surrounding chemical waste/impacts. These were :

  • Plastic waste, creating pollution to the sea and land. Oil based plastics can pollute the soil with chemicals.
  • Dying/bleaching/tanning chemicals from fabric production that wash into water sources and the sea causing chemical pollution.
  • Chemicals used to fertilise crops, washing into rivers-polluting them.
  • Cleaning products used in homes etc washing into the sea and causing chemical pollution.
  • Chemicals used in manufacturing e.g. solvents.

We then furthered our discussions to look at solutions to these problems.  Firstly we discussed biodegradable alternatives to plastics, there are lots of them, including jute, paper, hemp, wheat grass, mushrooms etc. I have chosen to look at examples that use seaweed.

Firstly the work of Edvard Jonas, that combines seaweed with recycled paper to create interior items that can biodegrade. He harvests seaweed from the coast of Denmark, which he then dries and grinds down into a powder. This can then be used as a glue, due the the algate which occurs naturally in seaweed, which gives it a sticky viscous quality. After being mixed with recycled paper, it creates a strong material that has been used to make chairs and lamp shades. The material can be made in a range of colours depending on the shade/species of the seaweed.

I think that this bio-plastic is very successful in functioning like plastic, but without the environmental damage. I also like how the extraction process doesn’t seem to use chemicals (as far as I am aware). For larger plastic items such as furniture and interiors, I think this could be a great replacement. For example, plastic school chairs, which would also raise the issue of sustainability to a younger audience, meaning they have an educational purpose as well as functional.

Edvard, J. (2017) Terroir. Available at: http://jonasedvard.dk/work/terroir/
(Accessed: 11 January 2018).

Looking at more disposable forms of plastic waste, the plastic water bottle is one of the most popular disposable waste plastics. With many of them only being used once, they are a prominent problem in terms of sustainability. Ari Jónsson uses algae from seaweed to make biodegradable water bottles. They hold their shape when filled with water, but start to dry out and shrink when empty. This means they are the ideal solution to one use plastic bottle waste.

Morby, A. (2016) ‘Ari Jónsson uses algae to create biodegradable water bottles’, Dezeen, Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2016/03/20/ari-jonsson-algae-biodegradable-water-bottles-iceland-academy-arts-student-designmarch-2016/  Accessed: 12 January 2018.

The second focus point for me is chemicals used in production of textiles, this includes dying, bleaching and tanning. A very large percentage of fabrics and textiles produced are in some way altered in terms of colour. materials such as cotton, polyester, wool etc are often dyed with chemical dyes. Many are also bleached. The leather industry is another massive contributor to chemical waste because of the tanning process used to cure the leather. These chemicals can then drain into water ways and pollute water sources and land for both humans and animals.

We discussed alternatives to chemical dyes and leather in our groups. Using natural dye to create colour on fabric is one alternative method that works as a solution against chemical dying. Cara Piazza is a textile designer that works with natural dyes such as flowers , food waste and non-toxic metals. Some of her work that I find inspirational is her use of flowers that would otherwise be waste to create individual bespoke items of clothing. She prints onto materials such as organic cotton, which means less processes have been applied to that material in order for her to then apply colour. The way this method uses waste to create dye means that it is very eco-friendly and has a low impact to the environment.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/sustainable-waste-clothing_us_57c5cc57e4b0cdfc5ac9ab1c

http://blog.urbanoutfitters.com/blog/uo_studio_visits_cara_piazza

Finally looking at the leather industry and how negatively impactful it is on the environment due to the use of chemicals, I have looked into alternatives to leather and one that I have found most interesting is the use of mushrooms. Mycelium is a material grown within the structure of a mushroom, but is its underground structure. It can be grown into shapes and used to make leather goods, without chemicals (as far as I know). It carries the same properties as leather, it can be coloured, is water resistant and flexible.  It can also be grown in the shape of bricks, to create architectural structures.

MycoWorks is a company that engineers this material and makes a variety of products from it.

http://static1.businessinsider.com/image/5788137edd089501528b4b02-480/mycelia-mycelium-fungus.jpg

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5849c529d2b8574bec083c06/5849c55e414fb515730a1cf2/5849c6581b631b5dcefe26e1/1512088734859/slide_bg_1.jpg?format=1500w

Seminar 2

As I was not able to attend this lecture, for this weeks blog post I have done my own research into a few areas of sustainability linking to the previous two lectures.

Staying with the theme of City living, I have been researching into the Olympic sites in London, especially the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. There park has many systems in place that contribute to sustainability. One of these is there waste water recycling system with works with the strategy of reducing water use. This system takes effluent from the Northern Outfall sewer and works to cleanse it creating grey water that is 95% as clean as drinking water, this can then be used in homes for toilet flushes as well as in irrigation systems for the park.

The park also works with the idea of a ‘smart city’ in mind. This relates to the strategy of creating better technologies.  The park focuses on four main areas to manage sustainability challenges:

  • Resource efficient buildings
  • Energy Systems
  • Smart park/future living
  • Data architecture and management

These areas of focus help to record and improve new strategies, which help to evolve technologies to improve London’s sustainability.

http://www.queenelizabetholympicpark.co.uk/our-story/transforming-east-london/sustainability/smart-sustainable-districts

Secondly I have looked at an example relating to ethical fashion. This is an important issue to me as a textiles designer because of the prevelence of non-ethical production in the textiles and fashion industries. The Ethical Fashion Initiative have developed a system called RISE, that measured social impact, sustainability and traceability of a fashion product. It is designed to monitor and track the impact of producing fashion items.  This system is an important feature within the fashion and textiles industry. I feel that If companies and consumers are aware of systems like this then there will be more pressure for companies to become transparent and therefore encouraged to change to more ethical production methods if they do not meet the regulations set up to ensure that environmental and social sustainability is met.

http://ethicalfashioninitiative.org/impact-results/

 

 

Nature, Technology and Science

This lecture discussed strategies for sustainability that take models from nature and history as well as design that explores cleaner and better technologies.

Innovation in design is important when looking to push forward new ideas in sustainability, however it is useful to sometimes rewind from the constant invention of entirely new technologies, and look back at historical or natural systems that have worked without human input.

I have decided to look at these strategies in relation to my everyday life in the city. One of the main environmental impacts within the city is air pollution. This is due to many factors including a concentrated population, increased emissions due to heavy vehicle use, as well as a lack of green areas. I feel as though within the city there could more design that integrates systems to reduce pollution. One design that I have researched is the use of bikes that also filter the air. Whilst not contributing to pollution due to the zero emissions of a bike, a design by Lightfog Creative and Design company also looks at how a bike can purify the air as it is ridden. This is a form of biomimicry, meaning that it is modelled on a process from nature. In this case it is the photosynthesis.

I think this is a great, multi purpose design that in theory could make a positive impact within a city environment.

Secondly I researched vertical farming. This is with the idea to localise food sources, in turn cutting down both economic and environmental costs. This takes inspiration from formations of vegetation such as rainforests. These environment thrive, growing in a massively 3d structure. Mass farming has produced many sustainability issues, including waste, massive water consumption and increased travel of products before they become available to the consumer. Growing a ‘farms’ in and around cities and utilising 3d structured could be massively beneficial in many ways, including creating a greener urban environment, decreased transit of products, and utilisation of waste water run-off from urban structures.

I think that there is still a lot of ways that an urban environment could be enhances by integrating more technologies inspired by nature. I also feel like these technologies need to reach a wider audience-allgenerations. One design that was shown in class that I feel could promote new technologies to a wider audience was the ink made from pollution. I think that the youth of London, from all backgrounds would find this technology inspiring, as it is both impressive and functional and could be used for street art, to promote environmental awareness. I feel that London has a long way to go in terms of cleaner alternatives for transport. In recent years there have been installations of cycle ‘highways’ that have promoted bicycle use, but I feel like there should be more of a focus on alternatives to tradition diesel fuelled cars and busses.

A Wicked Problem…

In this lecture we discussed how sustainability is a wicked problem because of how multi-faceted it is. There are multiple contributors to the issue of non-sustainable living and many ‘solutions’ seem to have contradictory elements to them. There also seems to be an element of selective promotion within many companies, focussing on one issue they are attempting to solve, whilst relying on other non-sustainable methods in other areas of production. An example of this could be:

A company that offers a repair service for their clothing, which promotes a less wasteful approach to fashion. However, the company may dye their clothing with chemical dyes, which add to chemical waste pollution, having a negative environmental impact. They may also use unfair trade labour, which would have a negative ethical impact. 

This example demonstrates how difficult it is to have a company or brand that is 100% sustainable, especially when there are so many different steps to construction of the final product. This has lead to some companies attempting to be ‘transparent’. Which means that they offer information to the buyer about how the product has been made in its entirety (supply chain mapping). This could include, material sourcing, construction, dying, etc.

Companies such as New Balance, Adidas, Asos and Levi’s are part of a group called Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC). SAC is an organisation that measures sustainability of these companies using the Higg index, which is a standardised supply chain measurement tool. It consists of many criteria that make brands and users aware of  sustainability standards in both an environmental and social sense. They have three main areas: Product Tool, Facility Tools and Brand Tools, which target different stages of production, measuring issues within each. This can then be combined to give an overall view of how impactful a company is, and what must change within the company to improve their production.

https://apparelcoalition.org/the-higg-index/

Whilst looking into brands that use this index I also found the RS program, which the brand New Balance comply to. ‘RS’ stands for Restricted Substances, this program works to stop hazardous chemical substances being used in any part of the production. New Balance state:

‘Historically, the footwear industry has used a wide variety of chemical substances to make its products, some of which—heavy metals, solvents, phthalates and certain dyes—are considered to be hazardous. To address potential hazards before they enter factories making New Balance products, we have established a team that reviews all chemicals considered for possible use. If a chemical is reviewed and found to be inappropriate for use, it is sent to the New Balance Product Chemistry Team, which is responsible for maintaining and implementing our Restricted Substances Manual (RSM) for our domestic and global factories.’ – http://www.newbalance.co.uk/inside-nb-environment.html.

This process of eliminating harmful substances impacts both the environment and the companies workers positively, Reducing the chemical impacts of the company massively.  It is an integral part of production, which prompts new innovations in more sustainable materials to be used in the products, creating an overall more sustainable company.

Alternatively to reducing chemical impacts of design/production. I have also looked at ways to reduce energy and water use. Through research I found a company called SPACE10 that created a hydroponic farm within an office. This farm require no soil or sunlight and only requires a fraction of the water that a regular farm would.  The idea is to produce food efficiently through giving it optimum living conditions. This system reduces environmental impact in many ways including: reduced energy used in transportation due to the in-city and local location, reduced use of water and energy to distribute water and fertilisers and no chemicals are used in production.

https://space10.io/the-farm/