Cotton is the most widely used natural fibre in the global textile industry. Cotton is popular as a clothing material for numerous reasons. It is soft, it is breathable, it is easy to wash absorbing body odours and providing protection from the sun. Cotton is also an adaptable fabric that can either be white, or dyed, or printed. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, it is cheap.
At least on first glance, cotton appears to be an ideal material for fashion. However, cotton has earned a reputation as the “world’s dirtiest crop”. The cultivation, production, and disposal of cotton causes profound environmental damage.
There is not a singular part of cotton's life cycle that is remotley sustainable.
Process and Uses
Used cotton textiles tend to end up in landfill. In the UK alone, 300,000 tonnes of fashion waste are sent to landfill every year, contributing millions of metric tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Exploring the potential afterlife of cotton, I propose Blended as a solution through which to recycle the fashion industry’s unwanted cotton garments and sheets. Blended is a series of experiments that incorporate a composite material . This material is derived from a blend of bioplastic resins and cotton textile waste. I developed this composite specifically for the purpose of lengthening the lifespan of textiles.
Each of the different material samples have different qualities. These differences are resultant of slight changes to the main 'honcho' recipe, be that a change of starch or varying quantities o f ingredients. Food starches are the active ingredient in the biological and sustainable binding agent. Strach is a polymer. It is a polyaccharide that consists of a linear glucose polymer (amylose) and a branched glucose polymer (amylopectin). As most plants store their energy as starch, it can be found in large quantities in grains and tubers.
In making blended cotton, textiles first need to be chopped into small pieces. The majority of fabrics used in my work are discarded bedsheets. Cut by hand with an approximate average dimension of 15mm x 15mm. With enough fabrics, the resin ingredientsare blended together until smooth and added to the fabric and heated and mixed until firm and sticky. This substance can then be cooled and moulded.
From hangers and decorative items to building materials and sound insulators, the uses of blended cottons are extensive.