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SOIL•BIORI•ASHION

by Yongfan Lu

How can I develop a biomaterial for Fashion which can bioremediate the soil after use?

bioremediation

mycelium

soil

fashion

casein bioplastic

About the project 

Based on the issue of soil pollutants from the fashion industry, the project aims to bioremediate soil quality by combining compostable nutrients and mycoremediation at the end of fashion products’ lifespan. Mycoremediation is the function of living mycelium to protect soil microbes and clean petroleum contaminants. 

 

Compostable casein bioplastic is a natural nutrient for soil microbes and plants. In my design, the casein bioplastic protects the dormant mycelium in my fashion products. At the end of product lifespan, garments are returned to the soil, where the mycelium will activate – after the casein has been broken down by soil microbes.

 

Living system

The fashion industry is contributing to a decline in soil health in a variety of ways. Soil is a family of microbes and plants impacted by the carbon-nitrogen ratio and petroleum contaminants. The healthy soil microbes will be dormant or replaced by other baleful microbes in incorrectly unbalanced carbon-nitrogen soil. Specifically, the fashion industry contaminates soil by: abusing it with fertilisers and by discarding synthetic, non-degradable materials into landfill. The soil will gradually lose its bioremediation ability until it becomes barren meaning that there will be less land for crops and grazing after abuse. It is an awful cycle for a designer concerned with fashion sustainability.

 

Therefore, my project aims to improve the carbon-nitrogen ratio by creating garments and accessories made from compostable casein bioplastic, while utilizing mycoremediation living blue oyster mycelium to clean petroleum contaminants such as TNT, PAHs, and heavy metals. 

Living mycelium, magnification: 500X.

Mycelium

microscopic views

Casein bioplastic colour-change view

casein-after-dry-copy-new-02.gif

Soil microscopic

view

 

Method

Living mycelium is quite fragile as a material, so I put it inside these casein pyramids – as the filler. The casein-mycelium pyramids are block stitched using an organic thread in my design to incite body movement without darts.

 

I hand-crafted the casein biomaterial by weaving, pleating, laser-cutting, and threadless linking it using casein glue to test its properties as a sustainably designed fabric. The casein bioplastic will change colour over time. 

Garment details sticking by casein glue.

The fabric is designed with mycelium-casein pyramids, casein weaving and pleating, casein treadless linked using casein glue.

Garment details sticking by casein glue.

 

Mycelium & Casein Pyramid

 

The dried mycelium is placed into the stitched casein pyramid. We can see the mycelium shadow under specific lighting in the naturally colour-changing casein pyramid. The casein fabric interacts with body movement as a second skin and forms the specific silhouette.  

Final garment design. Model: Jingyi Bai.

Translucent fabric with mycelium shadows.

 

Yongfan Lu

I previously studied fashion design, prior to beginning the MA Biodesign at Central Saint Martins, UAL.  I am extremely curious about how biological thinking and knowledge can  interact with fashion design and industry. Biological thinking is a method concerned with regeneration rather than an interchange of materials. I support improving fashion design’s manufacturing and commercial aspects through using sustainable methods combination with biological knowledge. Therefore, I hope to design some sustainable or regenerative, commercial bio-fashion products to explore the potential market for fashion. As a fashion designer, I would like to research regenerative bio-fashion and devote myself to establishing a bio-fashion brand overseas.