Green converters | ongoing research

Green converters | ongoing research

Key partners | ArtEZ Professorship Tactical Design | Sympany | Wageningen University

This research into the ability of clothes moths to break down wool and blends of residual textiles and the qualities of the spun silk.

Currently we are focusing on Tineola bisselliella the common clothes moth and Tinea pellionella the Case-bearing Clothes Moth. This research is done in collaboration, key partners are ArtEZ University of Arts at the Professorship Tactical Design, Sympany textiles collecting and recycling company and Wageningen University.

Moths are a group of insects that includes all members of the order of Lepidoptera that are not butterflies. There are approximately 160.000 species of moth, many of which have yet to be described. The Tineola bisselliella and Tinea pellionella have been viewed upon as a pest by humans for decades although these little insects are unique creatures with a fabulous metabolism.

These small moths, about 6 – 7 mm body length and 9 – 16 mm wingspan, are native to western of Eurasia. Because our indoor climate has become drier due to central heating and because we wash our clothes more often, moths have less to look for in our wardrobe. In contrast, we have become more afraid of pest infestation. Vera de Visser of the Knowledge and Advice Centre in Wageningen has published an article about this. Infestation delusion is typical of our relationship with the natural. Nature's little cleaners deserved more attention when talking about the transition to products that preserve our planet.

When faced with the enormous problem of textile waste it is tempting to dismiss the slow digestion process of tiny moth larvae, but much can be learned about this process. Mimicking the chemistry and designing for biodegradation could be the way forward. Paulien Harmsen (WUR) has published the study Biological degradation of Textiles at the onset of our Green Converters Tactical Design research, which provided the necessary depth into the task ahead.