Systems Supernova: an e-waste-avoiding dress with a message

This week I was updating my Nature and Popular Culture lecture on fashion. I was looking for new examples of how people are engaging with issues and meanings of sustainability in the world of haute and not so haute couture. Of course, that industry is a kind of exemplar of wastefulness, so it is always interesting to see what’s going on as forward thinkers try to reform its practices and its image. New York’s green fashion week has just come and gone with various designers touting their eco-chic offerings…organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, etc. You can argue that despite the interest in new fabrics, it’s still an exploitative consumeristic racket and all the green talk is just window dressing – literally, but that’s not what I want to talk about today.

Systems Supernova Dress

Systems Supernova Dress by Tina Sparkles (photo by Andrew Sterling)

What caught my attention was the work of Austin, Texas designer and activist, Tina Sparkles. Sparkles is the author of the newly released book Little Green Dresses: 50 Original Patterns for Repurposed Dresses, Tops, Skirts, and More. She’s got a DIY and reuse vibe going, and lots of passion for the green. One of her latest designs, the Systems Supernova Dress, is intended to communicate a message about electronic waste (e-waste) and the need to think more holistically about interconnected systems:

Made mostly of recycled computer wiring, the Systems Supernova dress addresses the growing problem of e-waste in American culture and explores the concept of systems thinking as it relates to our ecosystem. Each computer wire is situated in a closed loop system that interacts with all the other systems within the dress. Movement within one system influences other parts of the whole.

Intriguing examples of environmental communication can happen anywhere, and that’s a cool thing.

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About Mark S. Meisner

Executive Director of the International Environmental Communication Association (IECA). I also research, teach, write about, and speak on environmental and sustainability communication, media, culture, and policy. Facts are usually facts, but opinions and sense of humour are always my own.
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