My midterm/final project is currently underway. An experimental batch of the bio fabrics I am producing are in the midst of their growth stage, as the mixture continues to ferment and produce with the collagen film collecting atop in formation of the eventual fabric itself. As mentioned, this batch as mentioned will be utilized for experimentation, in order to test out and develop a methodology for procuring a solid form of water proofing the fabrics to prevent biodegrading from re-exposure to liquids. As I mentioned earlier, while the hyper-absorbent quality of the fabric aids in reducing waste from the dyeing process, it becomes its ultimate downfall in terms of tangibility for implementation in its current form.
Aside from the actual fabric growth, I am in the process of finalizing 3D renderings to be utilized in producing ready-made fabric patterns from the shapes of the bio fabric growth baths. I have thus far created the general shapes for the separate fabric patterns necessary to craft a garment in whole, and am finishing final touches of manipulating such shapes into growth containers for future use in producing these bio fabrics. My aim is to complete the separate growth containers and join them together to allow growth of all patterns in a single container partitioned by grates to outline the joining portions of the fabric baths. Once a solid approach to waterproofing is concocted I will move to begin growing the fabrics within the vessels.
For my final project I have decided to tackle the ever-growing footprint of pollution stemming from the fashion industry. As Eileen Fisher famously stated during her reception speech for her 2015 Riverkeeper Award, the fashion industry is the second-largest polluting industry in the world; only second to the oil industry. While that may seem like an over exaggeration, when considering all the input costs involved in each step of the garment production process–from the initial cultivation of crops, to the manufacturing of textiles, to the time we as consumers discard of them– this estimate doesn’t seem as much of a misjudgment. It has become a fact that most within the industry have taken note of, however, have only begun to take baby steps towards alleviating the current status of impact the industry as a whole.
While some have chosen to tackle the issues at a singular level, improving upon the existing issues at each individual phase of the lifecycle of a garment (such as improving the practices of farmers cultivating cotton or reducing or eliminating the usage of water in the textile dyeing process) a greater ambition would be to eliminate the footprint of an entire portion of the garment production process. That is what Bio-fabrics aim to do: capitalize on the production of fabrics from microorganisms in lieu of traditional crops and livestock, thereby cutting out most of the necessity of water, land use, waste byproducts, chemicals, emissions and energy usage, as procurement moves from a large farm to bio-experimentation labs. If fabrics were to be produced in such a way, a great number of the current issues plaguing the production and manufacturing side of the business would be mitigated.
This is the aim of my project, to refine the process of producing Bio Fabrics and figure out a sound way to advance the process of creating fabrics rather than cultivate them.
Bio-Fabrics, are a type of fabric originating from a chemical reactions of microorganisms. In the formula I am utilizing, the reactions lead to the production of a cellulose film, woven from the fermentation of a Symbiotic Culture of Yeast and Bacteria (or SCOBY). This recipe I have focused my attention on is the brainchild of Suzanne Lee, Fashion Designer and Director of the BioCouture Research Project, who noticed the potential for microbe-grown fabrics when interviewing a biologist for her 2005 novel, Fashioning the Future. Since then, Lee has taken many steps into the augmentation of the perception and overall realization of bio-fabrics, however, in the process has recognized many shortcomings of the current selection of grown fabrics.
Additionally, from my previous experience in producing bio fabrics, I have identified many shortcomings to the current abilities of this microbial concoction and realized key areas in the process to which I have the ability of improving upon. Two leading issues I have identified within the process revolve around the water solubility and possibility of production in scale for the SOCBY produced fabric. It is in these areas which I aim to refine and improve upon the existing models during the course of my final project.
In order to tackle these issues, I have several preliminary ideas. The first is the utilization of the waxy coating of fruit as a source of post-production coating for water-proofing. The other being the formation of growth bins that take the shape of clothing patterns. Through experimentation, I hope to aid in an overall improvement to the fabric and increase the feasibility of utilization of Bio Fabrics in larger scale, with the end goal of producing a fabric that can be a viable option for the industry use.
We are now living in the digital age where Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook take up the majority of our time. People understand the scope of social medias and technologies, but they can’t grasp the ecological problems we are facing. It’s true, it’s hard to understand how bad the world is doing right now. It feels like it is out of our hands, since we are just the little people and not major corporations. I am familiar with that feeling too, “What does it matter? So one more bottle won’t be recycled, big deal.”
That’s right, it probably isn’t a big deal, but what if EVERYONE said that? Would that be a big deal? And what if everyone thought the opposite? What if each time someone thought not to recycle, or save water, or waste paper, they would, and they would think about everyone else doing the same thing. Now does that make a difference?
The question is how do we get people to realize this, and think this way. If people nowadays relate to things through social media and those platforms, why not use that to spread the word. For my final project I want to make viral videos that show small actions making a big difference in social media, and relate those to recycling, water saving, resourcefulness, etc. I plan to use the hashtag (#)EveryLittleBitHelps (or #ELBH), on all social media platforms. With my background in filmmaking, I believe that this would be the best and most effective way for me to influence people.
My ideas for videos include:
Two friends trying to watch a video on YouTube, but it won’t load. One friend says he will disconnect from the WIFI so that the video will load faster. Even though it is a huge WIFI network, they agree, because #EveryLittleBitHelps. And it works, they video loads.
Someone on Facebook sees a post that says that if they get 1,000,000 “Likes”, something will happen. Of course, 1 out of a million is not a big help, but hey, he says, #EveryLittleBitHelps.
At the end of these videos there will be a voice over that explains the connection, how if every little bit helps in this case, why is it different in ecological cases? I will also add links to websites that can explain how to get involved more deeply if people are interested, and also links to videos of fellow classmates who teach how to be resourceful and how to recycle in the city.
I wanted to reach out as I know we would like to put together a project that means something and can leave an impact on our NYU World. This week I have been thinking about NYU’s lack of composting. The New York City Department of Sanitation has calculated that 1/3 of NYC’s residential waste is compostable. At my local market, I see dozens of hundreds of people bring their compost to bins which later get taken to a more eco-friendly composting facility.
I think we can become apart of this and help NYU transform the campus into a more Green campus. We have the NYU Sustainability group on campus and I think we could pair up with them on project or suggest our own and work within their frame work.
Some questions I have or projects I think we could do are:
How can we pass the “Green” message around campus? What can our cafes and restaurants do on campus? What can our library do to save more paper and not harm as many trees? Is this just NYU New York or could we branch off to other campus sites around the world?
Please let me know what you think. I am eager to get started and make real change!