Sunday, August 22, 2010

Waste management hierarchy

Image from the Wikipedia article on waste management hierarchy.
In the wake of the NYTimes article and it going viral, it's perhaps timely to reiterate a few things. A number of people have left comments on various blogs as well as emailed me directly about various textile recycling options. Thank you all.

Where waste is unavoidable, reuse and recycling are of course solutions. It is, however, always better to try and avoid creating waste in the first place, and this is the premise for my research. A fairly simple idea: that when making clothes, it is NOT ok to not use all of the fabric in a garment. A look at various recycling schemes for pre-consumer textile waste have only strengthened my view on this, as often the resulting product is of lesser value than the original textile. I played with this when I did the exhibition Bad Dogs in 2008: two garments were made from a military blanket that was made from textile scrap; bits of jersey were still visible in the felt, and my apartment was filled with fluffy dust after I cut them out. McDonough and Braungart, amongst others, called this reduction in value through recycling downcycling in Cradle to Cradle. A lot of the time, I'd argue, recycling is a 'band-aid solution' to a problem. Waste avoidance and minimisation are preferred. Nevertheless, textile waste isn't going anywhere fast, and a couple of solutions merit a mention. Perhaps the most common thing people have emailed me is the use of denim scrap as insulation, as covered by Treehugger. Nevertheless, given the huge impact cotton farming has in certain parts of the world (Lynda Grose deals with the complexity of cotton farming beautifully in her chapter in Sustainable Textiles), I'd say waste avoidance is better here, too. A somewhat better option in that the function of the cotton fibre is retained through recycling is R.E.U.S.E Jeans. On this, the retention of function in recycling, I'd recommend reading Paul Palmer of the Zero Waste Institute.

The two garments are below. I hope it's obvious but in case not, I aimed to make a beautiful coat and an ugly waistcoat from the coat scraps. Get it?

There is a lot of other misinformation out there already, which I'll address in coming days, time allowing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New York Times on Parsons and Loomstate

Thank you to Stephanie Rosenbloom at the New York Times. Sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning the article on the Parsons and Loomstate collaboration went live, and life has been somewhat busy since. I'd like to welcome all my new followers, and apologize to all of you still waiting on a response to an email or phone message; I'm getting there slowly. 

It's an absolute delight that so many deserving designers have received additional attention as a result.

'Normal' posting to resume soon.