In the beginning of this year I compared different, freely available, material passports in the Netherlands for the infrastructure coalition of MVO Nederland, called Groene Netten. At that moment I started to question myself if this would work for the textile sector as well. I am curious what your opinion is.
We have too much clothes and we buy too much is recently shown in the study “Measuring the Dutch Clothing Mountain”. A Dutch wardrobe typically contains 173 items of clothing, of which no less than fifty items have not been worn during the past year. That is almost 1/3 of the total amount in our wardrobe! I was part of this research and would like to share with you the findings.
Three years ago I wrote an article about a dissolvable yarn that makes disassembly possible. At that time the yarn was a prototype and not yet for sale on the open market. But now, three years later Groenendijk Bedrijfskleding made safety vests with this yarn. Sander Jongerius, CSR manager of Groenendijk Bedrijfskleding tells about their development process.
To create zero waste with a textile design there are multiple options. For example fully fashioned knitwear, 3D printing or not designing at all (probably not your preferred option). The most known option is Zero Waste Pattern Cutting (ZWPC) and in this blog article I am going to give a few examples.
I love interlocking systems because they make design for disassembly, repair and reuse possible. This time I found one which I would like to share with you because it goes beyond concept, you can actually buy these items and wear them.
In the article of September I wrote that I think mindset is the biggest issue we have to overcome to change towards a circular economy. Thereby I mean changing from seeing the importance towards freeing time to make a change in your daily work. We are all busy keeping up with our duties that it is an extra effort to stop, reflect and act.
What can a designer do to change this mindset?
I am writing blog articles since January 2012. Cradle-to-cradle was the main subject, focussed on which materials and techniques make textile products suitable for biodegradation or recycling. Ones in a while it is good to take a broader view and see the shifts that are needed to make a circular economy possible, that is what I will do in this article.
Why a circular economy? Take a look at this (Dutch) video:
Habits...doing things in a particular way for so long that we forget to consider the possibility that something can be done differently. I think washing textiles at home is such a topic.
For consumers it is common to wash textiles with water and soap and occasionally dry-cleaning (with perc, a carcinogenic substance) or steaming. Why are textiles washed? To eliminate stains and odour. And even if these are not present the textiles are washed just to give the idea of cleanliness. I wrote an blog article in 2012 about this topic.
Washing with hot water and soap in a machine is harmful for the environment:
How do we get clean textiles?
Yes, you read it correctly: I changed the terminology, I am not talking about “ washing” because the end purpose is clean clothes and there are multiple ways to do this without water.
Techniques to clean textiles
Use different materials: wool can be easily aired or steamed. Or nano-enhanced textiles. (‘nano’ means really tiny. At the moment researchers don’t know much the effects of nano-materials on human and nature. Because the particles are so small they could enter our skin. This can be good (biodegradable materials that heal the body for example) but we do not know the long term effects of e.g. silver entering the body.
I experimented with 3D printing on textiles, to see how this change in flexibility could effect the material and how we could make prints biodegradable.
A few pros and cons of 3D printing for a circular economy
3D printed garments
In combination with a 3D bodyscan machine, clothing can be made directly in 3D instead of making a 3D shape (human body) in a 2D shape (pattern) to make it into a 3D shape (garment) again.
However it is currently difficult to create the same look and feel that textiles have in 3D. There are options as you can see:
To make 3D printing suitable for the circular economy you have to consider the biodegradability or recyclability of the material. Fusing different materials together might make it hard to recycle or biodegrade them.
Biodegradable materials that can be printed are for example PLA, Wood, bamboo, cork, chocolate, algae. When these are printed on biodegradable materials like organic cotton, linen, tencel, the full material can biodegrade. These materials are sometimes also recycable, for instance you can melt the chocolate and reuse it.
Recycable, not biodegradable, materials that can be printed are for example plastics, gold, silver, aluminum.