Discovering Biodesign for Sustainable Fashion Part:1

Brief update on students project related to Biodesign for Sustainable Fashion. As a work in progress it involves collecting various design concepts to promote Sustainable Fashion through Biodesign.



The Biodesign Challenge is an international competition that brings together students and educators in art, design, and biology to envision, create, and critique transformative applications in biotechnology.

The challenge typically involves teams of students and mentors working together over several months to develop their proposals. These proposals can take the form of prototypes, videos, or other types of media that showcase the team's ideas and design concepts.

The challenge is typically organized around a theme, which has included topics such as food, water, energy, and health.

This year Dongseo University is taking part in Biodesign challenge for the first time, and being the team member and having my research interests around the same area. We came up with the topic of sustainable bio materials in fashion and textile industry.

Work in Progress

A course is designed for undergraduate which challenge the students to envision, create, critique and work on for a semester and come up with an alternative material idea in the form of actual material or just a visual idea concept. In June, A team possessing the most exceptional ideas will be selected to showcase a project at the BDC Summit in New York City.

The students of Dongseo University are also taking part in this project and have generated some valuable concepts. These ideas encompass not just sustainable materials, but also address local environmental challenges, specifically in waste management. Some of the themes that are emphasized in the works of the students include:

1.      Marine Biomaterials: A subject being focused on is the ocean's condition of being strained. The coral reefs and marine creatures are struggling, not solely due to pollution, but also due to the impacts of climate change on underwater life. Consequently, students have proposed a marine-based material obtained from seaweed as a solution.

Figure 1 Biomaterial made from seaweed

2.      Pet Hair Biomaterials: Korea is currently dealing with the problem of marine pollution caused by an oil spill, which is having a detrimental effect on the marine ecosystem and the health of fishermen. Additionally, it is causing coastal flooding and polluting beaches. To address this issue, students have devised a solution using pet hair to absorb the oils that leak into the water. By placing hair in a worn-out nylon material, they have created a "Fiber Mat" that is highly effective at absorbing oil and is both renewable and environmentally friendly. This material is sourced locally and made from waste products.

Figure 2 Pet Hair as biofilter

3.      Jellyfish Biomaterials: On the beaches of Busan, there is a problem with jellyfish being washed up on shore by the receding tides and dying. Although the jellyfish are dead, they can still sting people, which is inconvenient and unpleasant. To address this issue, a group of students devised a plan to create a new type of fabric that is environmentally friendly. They achieved this by using gelatin from jellyfish and calcium carbonate from shells. Through research, they conducted an experiment that resulted in the production of plastic using jellyfish gelatin.

Figure 3 Biomaterial sourced from organic wastes

4.      Biodesign Education: The students put forth a second idea regarding the potential use of various biomaterials in everyday life. With increasing research and exploration into new materials, there is always scope for progress and advancement. Introducing biodesign as a foundational education tool to a wider audience can enhance the chances of young and aspiring inventors to continue discovering further applications of biomaterials

Figure 4 Biodesign Education Kit

This project is still in progress, and the students are actively engaged in their topics. They are gaining further knowledge through class lectures and guidance from teachers and mentors who are experts in their respective fields. Students work also shows a great deal of potential, and the current focus is on selecting final topics for each group and commencing the experimental phase.­

Personal Reflections

The students' presentation helped me explore different aspects that can be covered to achieve sustainable biomaterial outcomes. As all the ideas aim to minimize negative impacts on the environment and society, sustainability is crucial in the fashion industry, which is known to be one of the most polluting and socially complex industries worldwide. The main outcome of this project is to examine various aspects of sustainable fashion, including the use of eco-friendly materials, ethical production practices, fair labor conditions, and circular economy approaches.

The students' work provided me with ideas on how we can achieve sustainability in the fashion industry. While there search is not yet clear, the concepts are strong. One of the biggest contributions to making the fashion industry sustainable is through the use of biomaterials, which I believe are the future of sustainable fashion, with no side effects or disadvantages. Another positive aspect of the students' work is that they are inspired by ideas that can be achieved locally, using raw materials that are technically waste, but can be sourced locally and are easily biodegradable without leaving a negative impact on the environment.

The next step is to challenge the students to envision, create, and critique the future of biotechnology. They can conduct in-depth research on materials and ideas, and generate the necessary steps to achieve desired results, ensuring that they are truly environmentally friendly and "green". This will help me generate ideas to contribute to my research in making the fashion industry more sustainable. Through this research, I aim to not only gain a deeper knowledge of sustainable and ethical alternative materials for the fashion industry, but also gain insights on how to effectively implement and make them fool proof.

I believe that this project will provide me with valuable insights for my research on sustainable fashion, which will significantly contribute to my research paper.