Recycling Plastic and Thinking Disassembly

This planet is drowning in plastic, the forever chemical made from oil.

Peak oil production was during the 1970s.

If we assume that consumption patterns continue at their current rate, we will need three times as many natural resources by the year 2050 compared to those used in the year 2000.

World Footprint: Today, we require the equivalent of 1.7 Earths to provide the resources we use and to absorb our waste. See Global Footprint Network, 2019

Industrial uses of oil to make polymers for textiles is slowly moving from new to recycled production.

Recycling is big business.

Plastic recycling machine

We now see clothing manufacturers, such as Craghoppers UK, informing us of how many plastic bottles it took to make a particular garment. Lifelong guarantees are issued for each garment produced in this way. The philosophy is that these forever chemicals have been recycled into clothing rather than allowed to end up in the oceans. But, even if the next generation can still wear these items of clothing, they will never safely biodegrade. Thus, like all forever chemicals used over the last two centuries, they all pose a threat to life on earth.

During the 2000s, designers like Stella McCartney, influenced the fashion world to avoid animal based fabrics and find alternatives. This was a response to the appalling billions of animals murdered cruelly for human fashion demands.

In this presently resource scarce world, young designers  propose a vision to eliminate, or at least minimize, the use of pure virgin materials.

In ‘Circular Fashion’ by Peggy Blum, we can see the ideas emerging in the fashion and textile industries to lead us out of the mire of constant planet harm. Instead we can be inspired and empowered to think differently.

We can all be designers of our personal creative expression. We can decide on the way forward to assist our ailing planet and aim to reduce our waste from extremely hazardous to harmless.

You can still have fast fashion if you select materials that decompose naturally. Just as we are seeing packaging becoming compostable, so we can wear compostable clothing.

She also informs us of another technique, drawn from the world of architecture

DISASSEMBLY IN DESIGN Design for disassembly takes its cue from sustainable architecture. It is one of the six core principles within the Cradle to Cradle Certified™/Built Positive movement, in which buildings and products are designed intentionally for material recovery, value retention, and meaningful next use. When designing for disassembly, materials, products, and components must be easily separated and then easily reassembled without damage so that they can be recovered, with their value retained, and then meaningfully recycled. There are three important rules for disassembly in design:

1. Careful selection and use of materials: If you check the label of a garment you are wearing right now, there is a high chance that the fabric is composed of a blend of different fibers, usually a mix of cotton and polyester. When designing for disassembly, it is recommended to use mono materials—materials that consist of one fiber, as these can be easily recycled.

2. Healthy and safe design of the components and product: Toxic dyes, glues, or finishes that may cause negative environmental impact should be avoided.

3. Simple selection and use of fasteners: Any hardware, trims, or notions should be easy to remove, so they can be recovered and reused. Currently this often has to be done by hand.

Consider how a garment can be designed for disassembly. Start by identifying each component (material, buttons, trims, linings, etc.) of the product, and then take into account how each component can be reused or recycled.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has been involved in helping focus minds on reducing waste since its founder, the famous round-the-world yachtswoman, retired and dedicated herself to the cause.

This is from her website:

“Everything that surrounds us has been designed by someone: the clothes we wear, the buildings we live in, even the way we get our food. The Montreal Design Declaration defines design as “the application of intent: the process through which we create the material, spatial, visual and experiential environments in a world made ever more malleable by advances in technology and materials, and increasingly vulnerable to the effects of unleashed global development.”

Put another way, design is the way we create products, services and systems, and is the mechanism by which we shape the material environment around us to meet our needs and desires.

Crucially, when something is designed important decisions are made that impact how it is manufactured, how it is used, and what happens when it is no longer needed or wanted. It is exceedingly difficult to go back and undo the effects of those decisions if they are later found to produce undesirable consequences.”

We can no longer let other people battle against these problems. As consumers, we can choose eco friendly, preferably biodegradable, products. We can buy products which have been designed for disassembly and recycling. We can watch YouTube re-purposing, upcycling videos to inspire us and learn how to turn items we have bought into further useful items. We can work extra hard to give lifelong use to what we already own and thus avoid sending to the last resort, landfill.

Find out what young people are doing to create sustainable products, example, this from waste produce.

About borderslynn

Retired, living in the Scottish Borders after living most of my life in cities in England. I can now indulge my interest in all aspects of living close to nature in a wild landscape. I live on what was once the Iapetus Ocean which took millions of years to travel from the Southern Hemisphere to here in the Northern Hemisphere. That set me thinking and questioning and seeking answers. In 1998 I co-wrote Millennium Countdown (US)/ A Business Guide to the Year 2000 (UK) see https://www.abebooks.co.uk/products/isbn/9780749427917
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