Ted Ten- Design to reduce water and energy use, Design to reduce chemical impacts

The design to reduce water and energy use strategy is closely linked to the textiles industry and the vast amounts of water required during the production (for dying) and use stage of a products life cycle (consumers laundry, which actually accounts for 60% of the water use). Textiles from natural fibres also need a lot of water to grow the crops in the first instance, and plants like cotton are particularly thirsty.

In our second lecture, we were shown examples of companies sourcing alternatives to cotton. One example was S.Cafe, who recycle used coffee grounds to make textiles fibres. I thought this was amazing. Thinking about how many coffee shops there are just on one street in London, and the amount of grounds that get thrown away every day really emphasises how much potential there could be in harnessing the bi-product of our coffee addictions!


Reference: -05/11/2013, http://www.scafefabrics.com, website


Above is an example of a bio-degradable t-shirt, by German Company Trigema. The shirt is made from 100% “bio cotton” and can eventually be completely composted.

Reference: -05/11/2013, http://www.trigema.de/shop/page/trigema_change_page/detail.jsf?lang=en, website

The dying process not only uses water, but also toxic chemicals. This strategy promotes using natural dyes that don’t use chemicals, and using innovative alternatives to conventional dying techniques that use little or no water, such as air-dying. Designers are also developing ways to reduce the amount of water we use to wash our textiles. One extremely simple way that everyone can make a difference and conserve energy is to wash their clothes at 30 degrees. It is a mis conception that this will not was them as effectively as higher temperatures.

Textiles are often the after thought of my design process, important, but not so thoroughly researched and developed as the structure of a design or building materials for example. Whilst I may not design the textiles themselves, I can still be responsible in sourcing materials that have a reduced impact of resources and the environment.

I could even look to enhancing the purpose of natural fibre textiles within my designs, which could offer softer and more tactile spaces. Often (but not always) naturally dyed fabrics have a less saturated, calmer hue, which I find far more aesthetically pleasing than garish chemical colours. Sourcing natural dyes could even open up a whole new colour palette for me. Dutch Company Rubia produce 100% natural colours, sourced from renewable resources. The range of colours available is impressive, and whats more, the resources are ethically and locally sourced.


Reference: -05/11/2013, http://www.rubia-nc.com/home/, website


I’m really interested in the work of company “raw color”. They are fully exploring the potential of natural colours for all products and materials.  They focus of printing for graphic design and photography, an area that seems to be under considered in terms of sustainability.

Reference: -05/11/2013, http://www.rawcolor.nl/welcome/, website

Another name I will remember is Biopaints. They produce paints, oils, varnishes and waxes that are safer to use and don’t contain harmful chemicals. 


Reference: – 05/11/2013, http://www.biopaints.co.nz, website

Reference: -“Design to reduce water and energy use”, “Design to reduce chemical impacts” Lectures, 18/10/2013