JUST ADD H2O: To try to make climate change more recognizable, The Unseen and The Lost Explorer have introduced a T-shirt that is designed to change colors in reaction to water pollutants.
In addition to ocean acidification’s and acid rain’s damaging effects on climate change, both parties wanted to draw attention to the fact that up to 20 percent of industrial world water pollution is caused by textile dyeing and treatment, ranking that second behind the oil industry. While that statistic was presented by the International Research Journal of Engineering and Technology, this year’s U.N. World Water Development report claims that 80 percent of the world wastewater is released into the environment without treatment.
To create the shirt, “an ancient pH indication potion” extracted from red cabbage was replicated by using a simple dyeing process. That dye was then used for a Lost Explorer cotton and hemp T-shirt. What starts as a purple T-shirt changes into other colors after contact to non-neutral water. Red cabbage juice contains anthocyanin, which can be used as a pH indicator. The pH level of the water that it subsequently contacts makes the shirt change into different colors. The shirt will change through the pH scale from Alkaline Green to Acidic Red. The changing color is meant to make the wearer consider water pollution and to connect with nature.
The Unseen’s founder Lauren Bowker said,”I think a lot of people these days, brands and fast fashion, they want to be rich and famous. They just want to get inches in press columns. But the point of an experiment is that it wouldn’t matter if anyone was interested in it or not. We would still be doing it.”
The Lost Explorer’s founder David de Rothschild said, “I like creating experiences that disarm people because if it’s insane, magical and unexpected enough, they might feel safer about asking questions. It’s this convergence of art and activism and creativity and design. It hopefully isn’t telling people what to do.”
After weeks of demonstrating the shirt’s chameleon-like properties to passers-by as well as some of de Rothschild’s surfer friends, the T-shirt was officially unveiled for World Environment Day.