Sustainable lifestyle has gained prominence in the light of growing concern over issues like climate change, air and water pollution, loss of biodiversity, extinction of species etc. Innovative ideas as well as collaborations like creating eco-friendly bags made out of natural fibres, products that are free of animal cruelty, introducing and popularising vegan food, use of alternative packaging and many more has been undertaken by different industries since quite awesome time now. One such collaboration is between Odd Bird, one of the largest producers of wines excreted from alcohol in Scandinavia & a designer named Meng Du from Beijing. They have created the design of a very unique looking grape leather bag named Unwasted. It is made from leftovers grape marc, a by-product that comes from the process of making wine.
“I found that when recycling these used plastic milk cartons, or beverage cans, they are almost always squashed and have a dent in them. I thought this shape was really interesting, so when I made the bags I deliberately designed them to look as if they were squashed and had a dent. To me, when altering a perfect shape into irregularity, it becomes interesting and unique. Just because something isn’t new or perfect, it doesn’t lose its value as some of our society seem to think. On the contrary its value is rather increased with a previous existence.”Meng Du, Designer
Out of keen interest in sustainability and fashion that does more good than damage, the founder of the planet of grapes Sam Mureau, started taking care of grape marc, a byproduct from wine produced from a vineyard near her place. She eventually started experimenting with it and created a new type of leather made from grape waste.
“Once the grapes have been pressed to make the wine, the grape skins are essentially waste. The grape marc is collected and dried out under the beautiful Provencal sunlight. Once dry it’s ground into a powder. The powder is blended with some purely natural ingredients and turned into a liquid, which is then poured onto a fabric of natural stem fibres. Once the material is left to dry, the leather is ready to use and the lost grapes are reborn.”Sam Mureau, Planet of the Grapes
Meng Du, a young designer from Parsons’ school of design New York, quite ironically had junk as the source of her inspiration behind the design of the bag. So, she gave it the shape of a squashed plastic milk carton using a material made of leftover grape skins that usually go to waste. The creation of the material involves a lengthy process of dying the grape skins and then grounding them into a powder. Later mixing it into some natural ingredients and liquids which are then poured onto a fabric of natural stem fiber and are left to be dried out. The grapes are reborn into leather which also is respectful towards plants and free from any fossil fuel-based plastics.
“In fact, many things appear to be hidden in this project. Including the appearance of this bag. It looks like it’s a milk carton – but it’s really a bag. The material looks like it’s leather – but it’s actually made of grape skins. To me this applies even to the idea of wine liberated from alcohol – it may seem just like a wine with ethanol – but it’s a Trojan horse of health. That’s why I named this project Incognito – what you see is not always what you get.”Meng Du, Designer
Leather, a symbol of sophisticated fashion involves the process of turning animal skin into leather tanneries in which a huge amount of energy is invested and results in a lot of pollution. Also, a huge amount of petroleum-based PVC and non-planet-friendly chemicals are used in the production of synthetic leather. On the other hand, every year globally approximately 290 million hectoliters of wine are produced and the leftover byproduct is not used in a valuable way. Hence, this cross-industry collaboration aimed to turn two negative aspects into something useful by inventing what can be referred to as the next-generation vegan leather.
“Unwasted is a grape leather bag produced from leftover grape marc from our vineyards. It’s a result of the process of experimenting through winemaking to optimize our use of resources. We hope it will inspire cross-industry collaboration and change the meaning of what we otherwise consider waste.”Ylva Nestmark, Brand Director, Oddbird