Not a banana republic
On 20th April 2020 the price of crude oil plummeted to less than zero.
This unprecedented fall in Ecuador’s primary export meant that the country was at risk of almost total economic collapse. The unreliable value of raw resources evidences that an immediate diversification from crude oil to a new bio-based economy is not just desirable, but critical for the country's future survival.
Bananas, Ecuador’s second largest export, have become increasingly important in maintaining economic stability. 230 million tons of waste is generated from banana cultivation and this project explores how to incorporate banana fibre, a natural and prolific by-product, into the supply chain of the textile industry. The fibres are processed to create a viable and more sustainable alternative to conventional cotton.
The textiles created from the waste fibre are 100% biodegradable and, since they are a by-product, don’t require arable land to be produced. Furthermore, substantially less harmful chemicals are used throughout the process helping with the overall health of our oceans as harmful microfibres are not released during washing.
To illustrate the potential of this new fibre, I have made a traditional shirt inspired by those worn by banana farmers. It is made entirely from the fibrous waste and naturally dyed using the waste flowers.