Have you ever struggled over what to do with worn out, frayed, stained or ripped clothing? You can’t really hand it down, pass it on, put it in a garage sale or donate it, like you might if it were still in decent shape and you were simply tired of it. Most of us would probably just toss it. But one young architecture student has found a better way.
Meet Clarisse Merlet, creator of FabBRICK. Clarisse was in her fifth year at Paris’s ENSA Paris-Malaquais researching new approaches to construction when she had an idea for giving worn-out clothing new life by turning it into something beautiful and functional.
Basically, Clarisse takes worn, torn, unusable clothing that would otherwise pile up in landfills and turns it into “bricks” that can be used for building partition walls and furniture or simply for decoration.
Upcycling this type of waste is a refreshing idea, not only in Europe where four million tons of textiles are tossed every year, but even in the U.S., which discards a whopping 14 million tons of textiles annually.
Here’s how it works: First, the shredded fabric is combined with an eco-friendly glue Clarisse developed herself. Then the mixture is transferred to another of her creations, a unique brick-molding device powered solely by human energy, no electricity required. The wet bricks are removed and allowed to air dry up to two weeks. All materials are bio-sourced and non-polluting, and Clarisse and her team can pump out over 1,000 “FabBRICKs” a week.
While the bricks respond well to fire and humidity, they are not currently sturdy enough for home construction. However, Clarisse’s 2020 to do list includes creating bricks (and the machinery to mold them) suitable for building homes, with a goal of eventually helping to reduce the use of natural resources like wood, sand and oil within the construction industry.