Calling All Trash: Fashion Welcomes Textile Made From Food and Fruit Waste

How much food do all of us throw away every single day of our lives for whatever reason?  For a group of undergraduate students from  Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam; Hugo de Boon; Aron Hotting; Maaike Schoonen; Koen Meerkerk; Bart Schram and Miloy Snoeijers, food waste is one of the most pressing social issues of the day. According to market vendor estimates, more than 7,000 pounds of overipe or unattractive produce is discarded every day in South Holland.

The six students were inspired by a technique used by chefs to mash, boil and then dry fruit to create a  'candy-like leather.'The unique material is 'hide-like' in appearance with many versatile applications, which include fashion but also promote food waste awareness. The appearance of the material depends on the type of produce used to create it. Projects include a handbag made from mangoes, a shopping bag comprised of nectarines and a lampshade from pulped peaches.


Mango Tote Bag: Source: NLTimesMango Tote Bag: Source: NLTimes


The Bio/Fermented Fashion movement

This important recycling trend has been taking hold in Europe over the course of the last decade. Vegetable leather has been made from green tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast, and back in 2004, scientists at the University of Western Australia introduced a jacket made from mouse and human cells. The movement is slowly but surely becoming a second industrial revolution, destined to alter manufacturing awareness and production. With it comes odd but fascinating  creations such as apparel made from wine microbes  and even a wedding dress constructed from fungi. After the one big day, instead of living until yellowed in a back closet,  the dress, which is made from tree mulch and a naturally-white fungus actually becomes compost!


Fermented Waste Jacket: Source: Photo By Marc Weissler for ScobiTechFermented Waste Jacket: Source: Photo By Marc Weissler for ScobiTech


In the words of Erin Smith, a Mircrosoft researcher who grew her own wedding dress with the idea in mind that a one-time-use object should be made from ae material appropriate for its lifespan. In her own words:

"i think the ability for us to grow our own clothing could have great positive potential...It's essential that consumers become more aware of the continued lifespan of their things once they've been thrown away...Any object made from materials that will outlive its intended use is a part of our global waste problem."


Fungi Wedding Dress: Source: EcorazziFungi Wedding Dress: Source: Ecorazzi


Problems with fermented food and other waste products

While the idea is noble enough and the technology exists, home-grown clothing from fermented fruit and other waste products hasn't really caught on with the mainstream public because of psychological implications. To wear one's trash is certainly an example of responsible citizenship but it doesn't fare well with the idea that many people are uncomfortable and equate the action with "putting dirty clothes back on after a bath."

The process for making home-grown clothing, despite technological advances, is still time-consuming and grueling but well worth the effort. It is hoped by those within the bio/fermented fashion movement that in time the many environmental benefits of fermented fashion will supercede any psychological aversions to these products.


TextileMade From Fruit: Source: NoteyTextileMade From Fruit: Source: Notey


The future of fermented fashion

A German company that makes leather seats for BMW and PORSCHE has already approached the Rotterdam team of undergraduates. Their project hallmarks the growing trend between scientists and designers to constantly seek new ways to blur the boundaries between fashion and technology. Demand for these products is still a moot point because manufacturers are doubtful that bio-materials will ever replace cotton and leather and that "fast fashion" will completely let go of using oil-based polymers such as polyester.

Still, change is born from a momentum of little things whose time has come.

Closing thoughts about fashion:
Clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them. ~ Marc Jacobs

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