Taking “Steps” Towards a Greener Fashion Industry

One of the biggest ways to combat environmental damage caused by the fashion industry is to utilize recycling to make new garments and fabrics. Dalapati et al. used the most readily available biopolymer, cellulose, to make recyclable hydrophobic, or water repellent, materials which will assist in oil spill clean-up. Cotton, being made up of almost 100% cellulose, was chosen as the base material for this new product. Metal organic frameworks (MOFs) made of Zr(IV) paired with a 2-trifluoroacetamidoterephthalic acid (H2L) linker exhibited super-hydrophobicity. This super-hydrophobicity was maintained when the MOFs were grown onto cotton fabric or coating cotton fabric with the MOFs. While this is not an application for the fashion industry, these MOF coated cotton fabrics can be put into the ocean to separate the hydrophilic regions (water) from the hydrophobic regions (oil), and the oil can be extracted with greater ease.1

            A more fashion-oriented example of reusing and recycling old materials is Nike’s “Space Hippie” line. Centered around the idea of scarcity and lack of supplies if one was to live on Mars, Space Hippie Flyknit yarn is made of plastic bottles, t-shirts and post-industrial scraps to create totally new, original sneaker designs. Nike is focused on working towards a closed-loop economy. This means that they are only using resources obtained from a prior process as feedstocks for the next process. In other words, they aren’t bringing in new materials other than “trash” from previous projects to create their future products. The idea of going on a space mission to Mars and having to “create things from what you would find there” due to minimal resources is an idea that will soon need to be adopted by people living on Earth as well with the constant depletion of resources rather than reusing ones already in industry. Therefore, Nike is stepping out and making an eye-opening impact with “Space Hippie”.2

            Another way to support recycling in fashion is to use fabric scraps to sew new projects rather than go to a fabric store every time a project needs to be started. Recently, I made an entire hoodie from scraps that I saved up over time whether they were from old t shirts, hoodies, jeans, etc.. It was a fun experience fitting all of the oddly shaped scraps onto a pattern piece and sewing them together. It was almost as if I was watching a puzzle come to life. One of my favorite parts of the piece is the fact that I used pant legs from old jeans for the sleeves of the hoodie. I love wearing the piece because I know however small of a step it was, it made a difference in regards to less waste contribution from a sewing project.

Works Cited

1. Dalapati, R.;  Nandi, S.;  Gogoi, C.;  Shome, A.; Biswas, S., Metal–Organic Framework

    (MOF) Derived Recyclable, Superhydrophobic Composite of Cotton Fabrics for the Facile

    Removal of Oil Spills. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2021, 13 (7), 8563-8573.

2. Space Hippie https://www.nike.com/space-hippie (accessed 2022 -04 -03).

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