Tag: Eco-friendly

Prickly Pearther Replaces Pleather

Sustainable fashion and innovative ways to reduce our carbon footprint are twin interests of mine.   Two young Mexican inventors Adrian Lopez and Marte Cazarez from Guadalajara have created an eco-friendly leather alternative made out of prickly pear cactus. People thought they were crazy and even engineers did not believe it could be done. They travelled to Milan, Italy to present their innovative leather to the top designers of the fashion industry at the Lineapelle Leather Trade Exhibition.

Making leather out of cactus caught my eye because I have seen the negative results of introducing the prickly pear cactus in Kenya and hope new, innovative ideas can help the plague of prickly pear cactus Kenya is experiencing. 

What is good for one ecosystem can be the kiss of death to another ecosystem. During colonial times in Kenya, the British decided to introduce the prickly pear cactus as an ornamental plant that thrives in dry climates.  An invasion occurred and the prickly pear cactus plague is the result. The cactus threatens grazing, one of the mainstays of the Kenyan economy, and is thought to kill baby elephants, which impacts the tourist industry. 

While the species of prickly pear cactus in Mexico and Central America have many uses, the species is Kenya is strictly ornamental and useless. It has a chokehold on the landscape and the economy. 

Each time, I visit Kenya and I am overwhelmed by the prickly pear problem that I can’t stop thinking of ways to stay this invasion. Two young inventors have devised an organic blend of prickly pear and cotton with the proper hand feel and attractive look leather consumers crave. Maybe this new innovation can be used in Kenya to help end the scourge of this invasive species of cactus.

Fashion Choices Heat Up The Planet

What you wear and what you buy and how you buy your clothes impacts the planet. It’s shocking to learn the apparel and footwear industries are responsible for 8 percent of the global climate impact.  Total greenhouse gas emissions related to textile production are equal to 1.2 billion tons annually or more than all international flights and maritime shipping trips combined each year. Fast fashion is leading the charge on this impact and that means your clothing choices can have a negative or positive impact on global warming.

Upcycling and repurposing used clothing is one creative way to reduce your carbon footprint and something I have been doing for 10 years. Out of wool sweaters, ties, shirts, socks, wool blankets, coats, jackets, buttons, bottle caps, zippers, resistors, floppy disc centers, old aluminum coins, fabric scraps, aluminum cans and other curiosities, I have designed a line of upcycled clothing and created a line of bottle cap bead jewelry. Most of the materials I use in my art practice are recycled and repurposed. 

For my line of clothing, I cannibalize wool sweaters to make my hats. Every part of the sweater is used for making hats and the leftover pieces are fashioned into flowers, polka dots and birds for decoration. The ribbing of the sweaters become tree trunks and leaves. I even save the labels of all the sweaters I cut up and use them for embellishment. In the end, the entire sweater has been used for in some way in my fashion line. 

My line of shirts and coats are repurposed and embellished with embroidery, buttons, rosettes made out of men’s ties or socks, lace dollies or whatever suits my fancy. I am always on the lookout for new ways to use cast off items in my line of clothing and jewelry.  Each item in my line of clothing and jewelry is a unique, one-of-a-kind creation and eco-friendly.