Hannah Elisabeth Jones



The world has experienced thousands of years of humans making natural materials. Synthetics, however, have only existed for approximately 170 years, yet they have already caused incomprehensible damage to the health of our natural environments. In fact, at least 8 million tonnes of plastic waste leaks into our oceans every year. Over the past century, we have grown to rely on plastic due to its versatility and practicality. However, if we can improve the current environmental situation through replacing crude oil-based plastics with bio-based materials, we must do so.

Bio-based materials tend to have a shorter lifespan – a lack of waterproofness leads to permeability and biodegradation (decreased physical functionality) – and the general perception that these materials are unsterile and unhygienic (decreased emotional durability). Additionally, these bio-based materials need to be low impact and locally sourced.

So, how can the permeability of bio-based materials be reduced to increase their functional capability and encourage acceptance of them for everyday objects? What can be created using the plants within the North-West region of the UK alone? Can we apply traditional fibre skills to weeds and invasive species to create valuable materials? This practice-based research considers a future of soil-led material design.

Hannah was awarded an AHRC studentship for her PhD study at Manchester School of Art and the Burberry Design Scholarship to study MA Textiles at the RCA.