Suzanne Lee was once an up-and-coming fashion designer.
Now she’s revolutionizing the fashion world from the ground up.
The Zero Waste Conference welcomes Suzanne Lee, material innovator and founder of Biofabricate, as morning Keynote for the “Next Generation Materials” session.
In Metro Vancouver and around the world, textiles are one of the fastest growing categories of waste, with global estimates suggesting that 85% of textiles produced each year end up in landfills – and that’s on top of the staggering carbon emissions, water pollution coming from this industry.
But what if we could produce durable and beautiful clothes with far less pollution and waste, using the processes at the heart of life itself?
Biofabrication: A Natural Solution
Enter biofabrication – a suite of production methods that weave together science, agriculture, design, 3D printing, brewing and even gardening. It uses microscopic organisms to reinvent the way we make everything from clothes to couches to buildings.
Biofabricate founder Suzanne Lee reached an epiphany in 2003 during a collaboration with biologist David Hepworth:
I was interested in new ways to make materials and he explained that rather than consider a fiber coming from a plant in a field, we could imagine harnessing a living organism like a bacterium, to grow that same fiber for us …
That was the beginning of a journey for me that made me see our material world in a whole new light. Not as oil-based plastics, concrete, particleboard, synthetic dyes etc. but those same (or better) materials instead made by bacteria, yeast, algae, fungi, and animal cells …
Biofabrication replaces the many intensive man-made steps of conventional production with a single, biological step.
As an example, mycelium – the root structure of fungi – can be used to grow complex 3D structures like foams, flexible sheets and rigid blocks that can be used for anything from packaging to furniture to construction materials. Owing to the natural properties of these structures, the products are incredibly strong and stable, yet are completely biodegradable.
Bacteria, algae and yeast can also be used in different ways to create inks, dyes, leather-like materials and much more, without any of the environmental issues typically associated with these materials.
The Fashion Industry Needs a Revolution
It’s too easy to overlook the environmental and human costs of cheap clothes, shoes and accessories. The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters on earth, accounting for 10% of total carbon emissions, 20% of total industrial water pollution, plus much of the microplastics ending up in oceans via laundry.
Biofabrication holds the promise for radically cutting emissions and eliminating waste from an industry that has flown under the environmental radar for far too long.
Join us at the 2020 Zero Waste Conference to hear Suzanne Lee’s unique take on fashion, manufacturing and life itself.
As Suzanne Lee says,
“Once you realize that these materials are better for the planet, animals and us, why would we go back to the toxic, polluting materials of the past?”
2020 Zero Waste Conference:
Resiliency, Prosperity, Carbon Neutrality – The Circular Economy Solution
November 13, 2020