Within the gloom of retrograde political actions, the rolling back of the US’s climate policy and the absurdity of Brexit, it’s pleasing when you catch a chink of progressive light. Over at the Design Museum in London, Dutch artist and designer Christien Meindertsma beautifully illustrates the kind of thinking that, if realised at scale, could help steer us towards a future that doesn’t involve weather systems or nuclear attack maiming the only planet we have.
When we throw clothes away, most will end up being incinerated, or reduced to landfill. If you still occasionally pick up the odd piece of tat from the high street Goliaths, take a look at the documentary The True Cost and see what you’re contributing to.
Even clothes that are recycled, most frequently end up as low value carpet liners, removal blankets and the like. One of the big problems with recycling is that there has been no simple way to sort clothes by their colour and fabric. Meindertsma has been working with the first mechanised approach to solving this problem.
Using 1000 old woollen jumpers and the assistance of two textile companies, she machine-sorted the garments by colour and fabric. The resulting piles of fibres show what is possible and one can only imagine the global benefit if such processes were refined and ultimately adopted by the largest manufacturers. The piece is called Fibre Market and alongside the fibre piles are displayed all the original labels from the garments.
During the process Meindertsma found that many labels were incorrect and in fact didn’t give an honest indication of the fibres used in the garments. A fact that suggests consumers are frequently deceived.
Another problem for another day perhaps.