Fashion, Organic Tanned Sheepskin, Biodiversity and Our Soil Health: Investigating the ecology of organic sheepskin, biodiversity and Fashion’s relationship to living matter in our soil.

Sarah Morehead

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

Abstract

This practice research approaches Sustainable Health and Wellbeing
through a design lens from a holistic perspective. We are all intrinsically linked to our environments and ultimately the health of our land. Through farming practices and natural erosion our soils are rapidly losing their biodiversity and the capacity to grow crops for food and fibres, affecting our health and wellbeing. I explore this through making a replica Irvin WW2 jacket in organic sheepskin. Making the heritage garment involved investigating the myriad of natural processes that allowed the materials for the jacket to be ‘grown’ and also able to be composted back into the soil. These processes included creating a pasture, raising sheep, curing and tanning sheepskin and examining all components such as organic cotton thread and brass hardware. I have worked with specialists exploring possible ecological narratives for materials where agroecology practices could be Cradle to Cradle (Braungart
and McDonough 2002).
Internationally, there is concern about the 24 billion tonnes of topsoil the planet is losing each year (Global Agriculture, 2019). Our soils are becoming increasingly degraded due to intensive farming practices and natural processes. As the layer of fertile topsoil thins, it gets increasingly difficult to grow crops. A productive soil microbiome enables biogeochemical cycling of both macronutrients and micronutrients essential for the growth of plants and animal life. Re invigorating our soils is one of the pressing concerns of our age, not just for crops, but also for their ability to help in the management of water and carbon sequestration.
In designing for the planet’s health, as symbiotic creatures of the living earth, we are designing for our own health and well-being. This work starts to explore the complexity of how we work with the land to gain materials for design and making and how we manage end of product life that gives back to the soil.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesign 4 Health International Conference Amsterdam
ChapterVolume 3
Number of pages3
ISBN (Electronic)ISBN: 978-1-8381117-0-0
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

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