Peacocks, and Porpoises, and Pine Cones: Oh My!

“Yesterday’s textiles are tomorrow’s toxins”.  This is a new and frightening reality for me.  Sustainable textiles are no longer deemed to be an isolated issue. It incorporates “environmentalism, economics and social responsibility”, and it analyzes the impact of the entire life cycle of textile on the environment. Advocates for sustainability are addressing new production methods in an effort to have textile producers reduce the amount of harmful emissions from chemicals used to finish fabrics. I understand the financial benefits from over production – economies of scale- but I do not grasp how there can be financial gain if excess inventory is discarded without producers retrieving some form of residual value. Crafts skills are reviving, and the resulting arts cooperatives formed from this revival are working with high tech prints, smart fabrics, and responsive surfaces in an effort to promote sustainability. This relationship is achieving positive, economic, and environmental values from recycled resources.

We have always mimicked nature’s way, hence the term biomimicry. “Nature has perfected a plethora of ordinary materials and techniques that could significantly improve the human world”. Astoundingly, these materials come from land and sea.  I am still reeling from learning about the natural characteristics of barbules, which are associated with peacocks’ feathers. Barbules, unlike colorful pigments do not fade over time, and because of this the advantages of using barbules instead of pigments to make colors are boundless. There is no chemical emission like there is from the dyeing process, no energy is used, and the colors are beautiful and long lasting.  Furthermore, by keeping garments for an extended period of time can foster  a psychological relationship, lead to a decrease in production, and subsequently a reduction in landfills.

High-tech Fabrics mimicking the skins of sharks, dolphins and porpoises are used to produce lightweight woven fabrics. These fabrics are coated with polyurethane to reduce drag, and have become a common feature in high performance garments.

Pine cones are naturally divided into separate layers, and each layer responds independently to moisture. Researchers believe that fabrics can be created to control body temperature in human beings by mimicking this natural response.

If we pay close attention to nature, we can find so many things on land and in the sea that we can use to our benefit. The discoveries can expand our world to regions that are limitless, and can lead us a better world, a sustainable world, a world where we can live in harmony with nature.

I realize that nature is our partner in our environment, and that it is not to be coerced but must be treated respectfully if we are to benefit from the bountiful things it has to offer. I can see myself going on treasure hunts finding natural sources that can be used to better our lives.

I want to learn more about BioCulture, because whereas biomimicry is inspired by nature, Bio Culture is nature.

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1 Response to Peacocks, and Porpoises, and Pine Cones: Oh My!

  1. thizbe says:

    Great blog (and title)!! The quote about “today’s textiles are tomorrow’s toxins” was definitely impacting. I caught myself underlining it a couple of times! I think if we began to really think that way or market that slogan both designers and consumers would start to think a bit differently about how they live. I think because we, as consumers, do not directly see the impact our waste is having it is so much easier to just ignore their is an issue in the first place!

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