09 July 2020
First, we’re exploring what conductive base materials clothes can be made from. So you can think of the copper in our Full Metal Jacket and graphene in our Graphene Jacket as a platform on top of which other innovation can be added – a bit like an operating system in a computer. Second you have to look at what type of intelligence we’re trying to layer into our clothing (more on that over the next 12 months). And finally, if clothes are going to become tech, then how will they get treated at the end of their life?
Today, most of the 50 million tonnes of electronic waste that’s generated every year is treated like garbage even though it isn’t. Instead it contains many of the world’s precious metals, like silver, platinum, copper, nickel, cobalt, aluminium and zinc. You’ll find 7% of the world’s gold in e-waste. In other words, millions of tonnes of the stuff people normally pay to dig up out of the ground is heading straight back into it.
To avoid trashing our own planet, we need to start figuring out how to re-use the stuff we already have. So our Garbage Watch started with a very simple idea. What if electronic waste isn’t garbage? What if it’s simply pre-assembled raw materials that we can use to make new things. It’s why everything you can see on the Garbage Watch used to be something else – a motherboard from your computer, a microchip in your smartphone, or wiring from your TV. Working in collaboration with the Wallpaper* Re-Made project, the Garbage Watch reframes an often invisible and hazardous end of the supply chain.
Over the next year we’ll be going on a journey from prototype to product, sourcing components from sustainable e-waste recycling efforts, and sharing the story with you.