The Uncanny Essence of Algae#
Ecofeminism:Fast Fashion’s Ecological Footprint#
Capitalism and patriarchy are described in socialist feminist works as intertwined forms of oppression. While capitalism, the predominant global economic system, operates at a class level oppression, patriarchy, a less modern system of oppression, is gender based. These combined ruling global systems therefore oppress all forms of life, human, flora and fauna. Yet, they are system which we continue to work to uphold.
In this system of unrestricted profit, nature is exploited for resources as are women through means of unequal or unpaid labour.
Within the fashion and textile industry, a massive over-consumption of goods has propelled it to the second most polluting industry after oil. The price of clothing plummets, and accessibility to new trends is created week after week, consumers buy on average 60 percent more clothing than a decade ago and keep it for half as long, approximating to 80 billion pieces of clothing being consumed globally per year.
The human costs to this amount of consumption is seen most drastically in the East where 97% of the items we wear are now made and 85% of all garment workers are women. Brands producing in this system seek out the cheapest and most exploitable labour in counties with the fewest regulations. This means garment workers, predominantly women and children, are separated, paid a wage between US$1-3 per day, breaking or using the toilet in a 10 hour shift can be forbidden, workers can be beaten when trying to unionize and even killed in factory disasters due to unsafe and unregulated working conditions.
The environmental costs are just as devastating. The fashion and textile industry consumes approximately the equivalent of 32 million olympic sized swimming pools of water per year. Simply to produce one pair of jeans requires 7,000 liters of water (the amount of water one individual consumes in 5 – 6 years). Two thirds of all fibers for garments are cotton based, which requires an enormous amount of water to grow in relation to other plant fibers. Water pollution also extends to chemical waste from fabric dyes in rivers and water ways as well as micro-plastics from polyester in oceans and landfills which can take up to 200 years to break down.
Domination, or the complete abstraction of rights, is neither justified nor inevitable. A global shift in consciousness is required in order to overcome these intersections of oppression, as we are part of an interconnected system of life that supports our survival. Therefore to build a sustainable future, humans must re-learn to live harmoniously as partners with every other life form on the planet, understanding that we are all interconnected and acting according to that knowledge.
It is of imminent importance to be aware of where things that we buy come from, where they were made, who made them and any cruelty which may have been placed on animals, the environment or local communities in order to produce them. Our individual activism and lifestyle choices as consumers send a wave of manifestation for the change we want to see in the world. Each time you eat or buy clothing you are making a political, socio-economical, active vote to advocate for ecosystems, diversity, farmers, or to continue to uphold a system founded on greed, super-profits and ill-health for the planet and people.
- Interview: Claudia Szerakowski
- Ecofeminism: A Global Crisis
- 20 Facts About The Fast Fashion Industry
- The true cost of fast fashion | The Economist
Alginate + Algae Research#
Posing the question: Why are we using materials that take hundreds or thousands of years to break down in nature?
Alginic acid or algin is a complex carbohydrate found in the cell walls of brown algae (a large format kelp) where through binding with water it forms a viscous gel.
Physical properties: gel-strength, water-binding capacity, viscosity and biocompatibility, biodegradability.
Current culinary uses: food thickener for soy milk, chocolate milk, ice cream, yogurt, soups, salad dressings and jellies.
Potentials of algae include biofuels, human consumption, feed for agriculture, fertilizers and now being explored as a derivative for degradable plastic biomaterials.
Circular life cycle:
• Seaweeds are harvested along coast lines.
• Harvest surplus from the food industry in China is diverted to alginate production.
• Culinary uses as thickener and for experimental cooking techniques such as spherification.
• Produced into a powder format and sold as material
• Exploration of uses as a bioplastic by mixing with water, flexibility enhancing agents such as glycerin and rigidity enhancing agents such as chitosan
• Product design taking advantage of material properties of alginate bioplastic
• Public approach and education on alternative uses for algae and biodegradable materials
• User interplay, user investment
• Product use: eventual degradation with wear and tear
• Compostable: decay, back to nature, fertilizer
|400ml||H20||Free||Nearest tap source|
|25g||Alginate (food grade)||8 euro/ 250g||https://www.amazon.com/WillPowder-Sodium-Alginate-16-Ounce-Container/dp/B00250UHDS|
|60g||Vegetable Glycerin||10 euro/ 500 ml||https://www.amazon.com/Heritage-Store-Vegetable-Glycerin-Organically/dp/B00AAXGYAM|
|200ml||H20||Free||Nearest tap source|
|15g||Calcium Chloride||10 euro/ 250g||https://www.amazon.com/Calcium-Chloride-5-lb-Bag/dp/B074DBQ3J8/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1548689614&sr=8-4&keywords=calcium+chloride|
This recipe can and has been adapted in various tests using several different percentages of glycerin and other oils such as olive, coconut and almond oils, as well as varying amounts of calcium chloride to water ratio for the curing solution.
Alginate Bioyarn Tests # 2 from Catherine Euale on Vimeo.
DSCF3768 from Catherine Euale on Vimeo.
Alginate Bioyarn from Catherine Euale on Vimeo.
Alginate Bioplastic Water Test from Catherine Euale on Vimeo.
Alginate Bioyarn with Magnetised Iron Powder from Catherine Euale on Vimeo.
Organic Patterns from Alginate Paste from Catherine Euale on Vimeo.
Prototypes with Alginate as Textile from Catherine Euale on Vimeo.
Alginate Textile Tests from Catherine Euale on Vimeo.