The average American consumes about 27lbs. of bananas a year. What happens to all that waste? Since the 13th century Japan has made use of the silky fibers of the unfurled leaves to make fabric. A banana plant will produce fruit only once in its lifetime which leaves the rest of the plant available to make yarn. It is referred to as Musa fabric and has a texture as soft as cotton and as silky as silk. Yet it is both water and tear resistant. More recently it is now being used to make sneakers and light summer dresses. Clothing from this fabric has been used by H&M. The world of fabrics made from food waste is expanding rapidly. You can now find items such as eye glass frames made from spud waste, silk lace from orange rinds, sneakers made from apple core waste and a leather substitute constructed from mushrooms.
The process of manufacturing and disposing of used clothing has become a major contributor to landfills and pollution. There is a movement in the fashion industry to develop alternatives as well as biofibers and environmentally friendly fasteners. In the last 15 years, the amount of clothing being purchased increased by 60% and at the same time the amount of time a garment was worn decreased by half. This amounts to one garbage truck being dumped or burned every second. “H & M” has started a buy back program for unwanted clothing in which old clothing is broken down and reassembled as new garments. “Thousand Fell” is a company that has started a buy-back program for old sneakers in which they are broken down and remade into new footwear. One new area of interest is to rely on nature as opposed to animals for leather goods. Animal hides are both troublesome and toxic in the way they are produced. Mycelium, mushroom roots, has been used for centuries to dress wounds but now it has been taken to another level. “MycoWorks’s” is one such company that is exploring how to make use of mushroom roots for both clothing and automobile interiors to replace leather. A prototype of a sneaker produced in this manner began to disintegrate after 7 days of being buried in the soil. At the State University of New York biodegradable thread from algae is in the works. The final decision has to be made by the consumer. Will they support a substitute for leather and wear a product that has been made from recycled material?
His art resembles the plate armor of soldiers in medieval Europe and Japan. At the same time, it has the effect of a fluttering piece of fabric. Born in Ghana, his work is developed from a unique way of joining small pieces of metal. All of his pieces are composed of what would be discarded metal whether it be cans, lids or caps. Pieces take thousands of hours to produce and besides the impact they have on protecting the environment, give work to countless Nigerians in the production of a piece. His work consists of flattening strips of metal, cutting them into hexagons and then connecting them together with pieces of wire. All of his pieces are created while maintaining the original names of the products they were recycled from. They can be as large as 16 feet and will never appear in the same manner depending on how they are hung. The draping of the metal is so fluid that no matter how they are hung they maintain their beauty. His work reflects the artist’s concern for our present-day environmental crisis. If you ever have a chance to see a piece of his work, don’t hesitate.
Having a beautiful, lush green lawn is something that makes many homeowners feel proud. Lawns however take a great deal of water and pesticides to maintain. More precisely, lawns use 3 trillion gallons of water a year, 200 million gallons of gas, (for mowers) and 70 million pounds of pesticides. In addition, scientists are concerned that these lush lawns are really dead zones for all the birds and insects that are needed for pollination. What so many home owners are considering is replacing part or all of their lawns with a variety of natural ground covers. Most grow only a few inches and come in a variety of greens, violets and burgundy. Consider clover, ginger, creeping thyme, Ivy, vinca these are but a few. Most of them bloom once a year, spread slowly and eliminate the need for maintenance and can greatly reduce a water bill. One main thing to consider is to grow plants and ground cover that are native to the area in which you live. In areas like Arizona and California which have suffered from extreme drought, programs are being implemented to encourage homeowners to convert their lawns. California has started the “Turf Replacement Initiative” which offers rebates for every yard of lawn that is naturalized.