Cotton muslin fabric is at the heart of a fashion designer’s creative process. It’s cheap, plain, and unfinished, and it’s used to test ideas on a form, experiment with sewing, and make sure fit and proportion are correct before cutting and sewing the actual fabric. Unlike other textiles, muslin rarely has a life beyond the designer’s studio. It doesn’t end up in someone’s wardrobe or in a thrift shop. It ends up in a landfill. Muslin’s short lifespan is what makes it perfect fodder for the FIT Muslin Compost System.
Thanks to Textile Development and Marketing students Lydia Baird ’16 and Willa Tsokanis ’16, muslin waste is now being recycled into nutrient-rich compost to be used in campus green spaces, particularly FIT’s Rooftop Natural Dye Garden. Baird and Tsokanis presented their composting proposal at the Clinton Global Initiative University, and then installed the system at FIT. Just one of many sustainability initiatives embraced by the college, it’s a companion to last year’s CGI U project, the Rooftop Natural Dye Garden, which features plants that yield eco-friendly fabric dyes.
The production of cotton, the most common natural fiber in the world, reached over 120 million 480-pound bales per month in 2013-14. While downcycling processes do exist for cotton waste (secondhand clothing, the rag market, and industrial products such as insulation), that only defers its inevitable fate: the landfill. Composting may be part of the solution.
FIT’s commitment to sustainability has resulted in a range of courses that provide students with the tools and resources to build a successful business based on environmentally responsible practices. One popular noncredit program is Sustainable Design Entrepreneurs, which includes courses in sustainable materials and manufacturing, ethical fashion, and collaborative design with artisans. View a full listing and more programs at FIT’s Center for Continuing and Professional Studies.
This post is sponsored by FIT.