A Founding Story
We recycle red Solo cups to make wearable fabric. We went from concept to product, Solo cups to fabric, in the last 6 months.
What sparked this idea was an article I read about recycling. I had no idea that the US does not have the infrastructure to recycle domestically. So when China banned US recyclables a couple years ago, our landfills were overwhelmed with millions of tons of plastic. The US is now projected to run out of landfill space in the next 18 years.
Drastic, innovative measures must be taken to reverse the damage we've done to our planet.
I spent the summer of 2019 building an extrusion machine in my garage. The machine recycles plastic into a filament that can be woven into fabric. It was not an easy project. For three months, I tinkered and prototyped and nothing worked.
Coming back to school, our team of undergraduate Materials, Mechanical, and Environmental engineering students transitioned to testing Solo cups. The US uses 7.4 billion Solo cups annually, and we as college students are by far the largest users.
We tried processing red Solo cups, and it worked on the very first try. That was October 4th, 2019. In just a few months, we went from making filament to weaving fabric. We have now made shirts, skirts, and dresses using our recycled Solo cup fabric. We've collected 2500+ Solo cups in the first weeks of launching our Red Solo Cup Project on the Johns Hopkins campus.
We're excited for what is to come.
Sprinting from idea to implementation.
Fast, purposeful innovation.
The New Norm x Isabel Oliva
Isabel has been such an incredible partner in crime. Not only is she a talented artist and designer, but she is also diligent, creative, and insightful. We went to work as soon as we met. Just 2 weeks later, she had woven our first piece on the TC2 Jacquard digital loom using her personal designs and our recycled Solo cup filament. We are so excited for the collaborations to come!
We are extremely diverse. Materials, Environmental, and Mechanical engineering students are all coming together to tackle a very multi-faceted project. We are trying to tackle a global issue that's much bigger than us all.
We are excited to have become an official design team under the Materials Science and Engineering department in fall 2019. This is the first-student led team the department has seen.