:: Specific Design Brief
COSTING THE EARTH: REUSE, RECYCLE TEXTILES
1. GENERIC DESIGN CONTEXT
The fashion industry is often considered responsible for the high environmental
impact caused during the production, manufacture and disposal of textiles.
Reusing and recycling are considered important criteria to address environmental
concerns. Develop a textiles product that attempts to reduce environmental
At least one million tonnes of textiles that we throw away in the UK every year
could be reused or recycled!
Currently, textiles make up around 4% of household waste with around 75% going
to landfill sites. Textiles in landfill contribute to environmental impact.
Reuse and Recycle
Textiles are often reclaimed in two ways:
• Reused: where a product is used to make another product with little or
• Recycled: there are two ways of recycling textile materials;
mechanically, where fibres are pulled apart and reworked into yarn, and
chemically where fibres are re-polymerised into a chemical and spun. Polyester
is the main synthetic fibre to be recycled.
Go to www.demi.org.uk then follow
materials, textiles, lifecycle links.
www.kettex.com One of the UK’s leading
processors of second-hand clothing.
Thers’s lots of good stuff on
For inspirational products
www.biothinking.com - fashion and
furnishings from reused and recycled textiles.
www.earthfashions.com - garments and
accessories from re-processed textiles.
www.stepin.org/casestudy.php?id=fleeces - Patagonia fleece case study and
general research about reuse and recycle.
SUSTAINABILITY ISSUES: THINKING POINTS
• Textile products have varying environmental impacts throughout their life
(production, use and care, disposal). There is an activity in the DfES Key Stage
3 National Strategy pp319-20 that your teacher might be able to show you how to
use. It will help develop your ideas on environmental impact. A set of cards for
the activity is available from the Centre for Alternative Technology (www.cat.org.uk)
• Check out www.demi.org.uk (follow
material, textiles, product use links) for ideas on environmental impact in a
range of textiles products throughout their lifecycle. Does it give you any
ideas for which textiles products are better to reuse to minimise environmental
• Reusing textiles is an effective way of reducing impact on the environment as
there is a considerable reduction in the environmental costs associated with
producing and manufacturing textiles. How does this differ from recycling
• A common reuse of textiles in the UK is organised by the charity shops that
sell second hand clothes. Often these clothes are transported overseas to
developing countries. What are the environmental and social impacts? Visit
• Recycling reduces the environmental impact associated with the use of virgin
materials and manufacturing processes involved in textiles. However there is
much debate about whether the impact of transporting textiles to a recycling
unit has a higher environmental cost than other waste options for textiles. What
do you think?
decide to work on this design brief, don't forget to consider the issues of
sustainability in the different phases of your designing and making.
here to access Sustain-a-balls