Look Smoking Hot with Waste Couture

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Every piece of clothing you buy has had an environmental impact even before you buy it. Be it in terms of the water used, the artificial dyeing process or the discard created during the production,which add to the landfill.

Fast fashion, as many researchers have predicted, leaves a pollution footprint, with each step of the clothing life cycle generating potential environmental and occupational hazards.

So, what is the antidote? The answer lies in sustainable and ethical fashion. Keeping up with this is a group of design students from India who have created ethical and sustainable fabrics out of cigarette butts.

Over 100 billion cigarette butts are being dumped in India every year. Not only do these contribute to the landfill, they also pollute water bodies and clog drains. The cellulose acetate polymer found in these butts are non-biodegradable and take around a decade to decompose completely.

Anupama, a 22-year-old student of the JD Institute of Fashion Technology, along with her class mates Radhika and Meghana has created a new and sustainable fabric line out of cigarette butts, one of the largest contributors to environmental pollution. The idea is said to be birthed in order to create a fashion line that is ethical and sustainable.

Instead of letting discarded cigarette butts add to the landfill, they are collected from streets and pubs and the cellulose acetate are used  in making fibres for the project.

The students approached cigarette production units. “Not all obliged, but a few in the city were ready to give away the discarded cigarettes. We were also out in the streets, picking up used cigarette butts,” says Anupama. The used cigarette butts and the ones collected from factory units were processed separately initially, with those picked from the street, pubs and bars sterilised first.

Already, a student of Diploma in Fashion Design is helping the team apply for a patent on the technique used in creating the fabrics out of cigarette butts. At the annual design awards show hosted by their college JD Institute of Fashion Technology, the students will be featuring their designer line using the ethical fabric they created.

Anupama says that this is just a pilot project to show the way towards sustainable and ethical clothing.

The show will be held on May 19 and 20.

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