In the past, Bengali housewives, especially in rural areas, would not throw away old saris but use them to make quilts (kantha). They would even pull out coloured threads from the edges of these saris to embroider the quilt. What began as adaptive reuse of old clothes slowly evolved into an art form in modern times.
While the women of the Bengali households were driven by thrift, designers around the globe are compelled to think of ways to reduce the mountains of trash that modern society generates.
Organised by London-based Design Museum, which is devoted to contemporary design, an exhibition titled &lsquoThe Waste Age What Can Design Do&rsquo, is showcasing a new generation of designers who are &lsquorethinking our relationship to everyday things&rsquo. Says curator Gemma Curtin, &ldquoWe must face the problem of waste &ndash we can no longer ignore what happens to things when we get rid of them. Instead of thinking of objects as things that have an end life, they can have many lives. This is not just an exhibition, it is a campaign, and we all have an active part in our future.&rdquo
Data quoted by the organisers show that each year, a third of all food produced globally for human consumption goes to waste. In Europe alone, 87 per cent of textiles end up in landfills or get destroyed
The exhibition consists of several sections. The first section, &lsquoPeak Waste&rsquo shows the amount of waste generated around the globe through a large-scale waste tracker. Next is the &lsquoPrecious Waste&rsquo where visitors learn how raw material is used in everyday products through deconstruction methods (created by Studio Drift) and how designers are recycling waste into new resources, including use of sustainable materials in fashion by Stella McCartney, Adidas and Bethany Williams. The final section, &lsquoPost Waste&rsquo showcases new circular methods of production as well as using grown material to replace extracted ones. Clothes, products and packaging material made from coconut, agave and corn husks highlight the theme.
Guests, young and old, can follow the Family Trail (a free programme) which takes them on a journey around the exhibition to redefine, reflect and commit to what they can do about waste as a family including fun interactives, thought provoking talking points and perfect selfie moments.
The exhibition will run until February 20, 2022. Tickets available on Design Museum website.