In finding the answer to this clue about sustainability, you discovered an inspiring artist, a great residency for creatives interested in the intersection of biology and design, the sustainability of biology and a cool new organisms! What a day!
Natsai Audrey Chieza uses Streptomyces coelicolor to dye fabrics sustainably
Fashion can be wasteful and it has a water problem. A 2017 report found that the industry consumed almost 79 billion cubic meters of water in 2015, enough to fill 32 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. And according to the World Bank, 17-20% of all industrial water pollution is caused by the dyeing or treatment of garments. Now that's a lot of pollution. Not only are traditional dyes toxic to our environment, they are also dangerous for the people who have to work with them, do the dyeing, and manipulate the garments. Not sustainable for earth nor for our fellow humans.
Thankfully, designers, artists and scientists are working to correct the situation in fashion and in many industry thanks to the inherent sustainability of biology.
Natsai Audrey Chieza is the founder of Faber Futures, a design futures agency working in the field of biotechnology based in Peckham, south London. She's been working with textile dyes for almost a decade now, exploring how microorganisms can replace traditional dyes AND participate in the creation of dyed patterns. Exciting...and beautiful!
The organisms she mainly uses, Streptomyces coelicolor, is a soil-dwelling bacteria that is also used in the industry for its ability to produce various antibiotics. S. coelicolor belongs to the Streptomyces genus, which produces over two-thirds of the clinically useful antibiotics of natural origin (e.g., neomycin, cypemycin, grisemycin, bottromycins and chloramphenicol). If you've used an Amino Labs kit like the Canvas kit for living painting, or the Engineer-it kit for genetic engineering, you've use an antibiotics from Streptomyces!
Hear Natsai talk about her work in her TED talk