June 3

Dundee student designs range of eco-friendly burial clothes


A University of Dundee student has designed a range of burial clothes made from eco-friendly materials.

Francesca Rea has designed a range of ‘Return to Earth’ garments made from linen, cotton, bamboo and silk to help people ensure their last act is an environmentally sustainable one.

The 22-year-old, who was researching sustainable fabrics as part of her textile design degree, came up with the idea after hearing about an eco-funeral that a member of her family attended.

It is estimated that 65% of all fibres used in the clothing industry are made from synthetic material, meaning they remain in the ground for hundreds of years after a body has decomposed and release harmful chemicals as they break down.

Francesca’s solution was to design textiles for burial-wear using fabric that is eco-friendly to produce and 100% decomposable.

Her work is among the 300-plus exhibits at the Art, Design and Architecture Graduate Showcase 2020, an online display taking place in the absence of the annual degree show, which has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Francesca, who comes from Downpatrick, said: “The idea actually came from a family member who was telling me about a funeral they’d been to when the diseased was buried in a wicker basket.

“I thought that was great and, because we had been learning about the damage that the fashion industry does to the environment, it got me thinking about the clothes a person might choose to be buried in.

“That led to me doing this project on death, how we cling to old religious traditions around it, and how we might seek to make these traditions more sustainable.”

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Francesca’s embroidered burial-wear feature techniques and materials inspired by traditional Irish crafts and the ancient burial rituals of her ancestors.

The project is conceptual for the moment, but Francesca is open to the idea of developing it further after she graduates this summer.

The Art, Design and Architecture Graduate Showcase 2020 will be available to view online from 12 June at www.dundee.ac.uk/graduateshowcase.

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