Creative Arts (pages 186-7) mentions some artists who take a sustainable approach in their work and interesting initiatives and projects in favour of sustainability in design, manufacturing and use of products.
Artist website at: http://www.janeatfield.com/
Jane Atfield is a British designer who is interested in reinterpreting discarded objects and finding a new function for them. In 1993 she set up a company – MADE OF WASTE – which pioneered the recycling of plastics – from plastic bottles to yogurt pots – turning them into sheets which could then be assembled into pieces of furniture.
Laura Anne Marsden
Artist website at: http://www.lauramarsdenlace.com/
Laura Marsden is a textile designer who develops and promotes recycled textiles. She uses waste plastic bags and through a combination of hand-stitch and needle lace-making – a technique inspired by historical costumes – creates textiles than can be sculpted and used to make one-off pieces of wearable art and wall hung creations.
Textiles Environment Design (TED)
Association website at: http://www.tedresearch.net/
TED is a team of textile designers and researchers that has been developing a set of practice-based sustainable design strategies – a set of ten criteria – aimed at helping designers in creating textiles with a reduced impact on the environment. They are really an inspiration not only to textile artists but to designers working in all sorts of materials. I have printed them and shall certainly use them in my future as a very useful reference. The site is also rich in resources, news and updates. A real find!
Leon Kaye, ‘Clothing to dye for: the textile sector must confront water risks’ (2013) In: TheGuardian 12.08.2013 [online] At:
This is an interesting article focused on dying practices in the textile industry that can pose serious sustainability issues both for the environment and the local communities, especially in countries like India and China, since not only the local dye houses exhaust available water supplies but also dump untreated wastewater into streams and rivers, with dramatic consequences for the local communities.
In looking for ways to mitigate such massive waste of water one important answer is certainly the mechanisation of the industry. Waterless dying would be ideal for polyester but cannot be used for natural fibres such as cotton and wool, for which a huge progress would be instead to drastically reduce water consumption.
Several companies are developing low-water and waterless technologies like ColorZen (http://www.colorzen.com/) and AirDye (http://www.debscorp.com/en/airdye-technology/) while a large company like Adidas is researching dying which uses compressed CO2 with the cooperation of a supplier in Thailand. Also Levi’s, Nike, Ikea and H&M are taking some for the time timid initiatives in this direction.
However, according to this article, ‘as long as companies do not pay a price for the land and water their suppliers poison’ the abuse of water and poisoning of the local streams and rivers will continue.
Thomas Thwaites, ‘The Toaster Project’
In this project Thomas Thwaites, in his own words ‘a designer (of a more speculative sort), interested in technology, science, futures research & etc.’ documents his almost heroic effort to make a cheap electric toaster from scratch by personally sourcing all materials – mining and working metals, making his own plastic and so on – and so experimented how even the manufacturing of a very basic object is extremely complex and involves a very high number of hidden processes that we tend to take for granted. Almost every product and object could be analysed in this way and its sustainability investigated through the different stages of design and manufacture.