Waste can be the basis for change, according to a new initiative launched recently, aptly dubbed the “Design for Decomposition” initiative. Through this multiyear effort, nonprofit The Biomimicry Institute (founded by biologist and author Janine Benyus) will look to pilot commercially ready decomposition technologies that convert wasted clothes and textiles into bio-compatible raw materials or those that jibe with nature, and eventually, decompose. Wool and mycelium (mushroom leather) are some of today’s bio-compatible materials, and commercially ready technologies spanning bacterial, enzymatic, and anaerobic digestive processes are on the decomposer’s agenda for change. The Biomimicry Institute has looked at more than 130 different technologies in its preparation for the pilot.
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Why is this important?
In a fashion industry pitted over overproduction, the pilot seeks to explore nature’s idea of abundance. "From a biomimetic perspective, we’re looking at true system design in the context of the natural world and not giving way to some lax demands from industry to keep ‘business as usual,’” said Biomimicry Institute’s communications director Lex Amore. “At the end of the day, we don’t believe the current system of keeping fibers made from synthetic materials makes sense in rotation. It’s an illusion that we can control the technical loop, and in fact, it has been disproven with the many repercussions seen from microplastics. It’s going to scatter, and this initiative serves to do something about it.” As for what sets this initiative apart, Amore said, “the difference from this pilot versus others is we are actually going to simultaneously address the problem of waste by integrating decomposition technologies that work, while also taking the harmful materials out of rotation to move into the systems we really want to design in.”
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