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.
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.