We pulled in the purposeful perspectives of three practitioners in the field of sustainable materials, for an enlightening morning discussion.
With once innovative and life-changing materials, such as plastic, rapidly polluting our planet; a focus on sustainability and accountability at all corners of culture and commerce is driving the search for future-proof. And, as consumers become ever-more conscious, it's increasingly up to businesses to make sure they are actively and visibly playing a part in making a positive impact on the planet.
From huge consumer brands such as Adidas (promising to use only recycled plastics by 2024) to boutique makers (such as Carmen Hijosa and her sustainable leather alternative, Piñatex), businesses from all sectors are waking up to the reality of the environmental and social cost of materials and investing in research into the provenance, life-span and potential for reuse and recycling of every material they use.
On 27th March we gathered a panel of specialists to brief us on how new processes, discoveries and applications are changing the way consumers and industries use and think about materials. On the panel were Seetal Solanki, designer and Founder of Ma-tt-er and author of Why Materials Matter, Liz Corbin, Director of Research at Metabolic and Founder of Materiom, an open platform for materials experimentation, and Amanda Johnston, curator and educational consultant at The Sustainable Angle and author of the Fabric For Fashion books.
We took some inspiring and arresting perspectives away; learning about Earth Overshoot Day — and how since 1970 when recording began, it's moved closer and closer to the start of the year. We heard that in 2018, it was it's earliest at the 1st August 1st, meaning we'd taklen more from nature than the planet can renew in just seven months. And a popular designer discovery was Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Billie van Katwijk. Billie has created a remarkable method for repurposing bovine guts into material for making bags and accessories — forward thining slaughterhouses being all to willing to hand on discarded stomachs, resulting in a sustainable alternative to leather.
A big thanks to our panelists for sharing their perspectives, and for those who came along to listen, question and share their own views. And a copy of Seetal's brilliant book can be freely borrowed from the Library at YCN.