Eco fashions are available in many varieties and from many materials.
However, one source for sustainable design that might seem a little outlandish has been used to make a handful of inventive custom wear.
Littered cigarette butts are not the most inspiring source, unless you are Alexandra Guerrero.
Mantis, her design company, unusually integrated the discarded butts into a line of haute couture a few years back that doesn’t look anything like what would come out of an ashtray.
According to an interview with GreenMuze the idea began with a thesis topic proposal for school. A focus on recycled materials hit the streets and what it found tossed out along public places and piled high dumped in ashtrays were a never ending supply of cigarettes. Wanting to elaborate on wastefulness and its place in mindful design, but aiming to do so in an innovative way led the concept to further evolve into fashionable products.
The clothing was made from mostly natural sheep’s wool, but also contained a 10% mixture of cigarette butts; though the designer stated that this amount could actually increase in the future if funding and interest in the project ever grew.
After being sanitized in an autoclave machine they were cleaned with a solvent and ran through the purification process again (although “purifying” a cigarette of its harmful chemical compounds doesn’t sound entirely possible – perhaps a warning label will be sewn in future designs?). After a thorough rinse they were dried and the fibers pulled from the cigarettes. They were then dyed and blended with the wool.
The fibers were reportedly as durable as the spun wool itself and created long lasting garments, which makes sense considering how long cigarette butts take to break down and the environmental impact of filtered types. There were around 5 items made including a dress, hat and sweater, which involved using around 5,000 cigarette butts (imagine storing those supplies) and lots of collection and hand processing.
Further, the remaining byproduct of the development procedure was even utilized. The liquid extracted from the cleaning process was said to have be donated to a company to assess its capabilities and effectiveness for use as a biological insecticide.
Sustainably produced slow fashion spun from a source most wouldn’t dare to look at is definitely an original act, but whether or not wearing a cigarette fiber blend will ever be in still remains to be seen.
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