Cotton Tote Bags Aren’t So Eco-Friendly, and Other News

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Long viewed as an environmental solution, cotton tote bags are actually unsustainable.

It’s hard to go shopping nowadays without receiving a cotton tote of some kind. The ubiquitous bags have become a vessel for brands and retailers to broadcast an image of awareness of the plastic waste crisis while also serving as a status symbol for users. While once hailed as a salve for plastic bag overuse, the cotton totes are actually deeply unsustainable. According to a 2018 study from the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark, one organic cotton tote needs to be used 20,000 times to offset its overall impact of production—that number equates to daily use for 54 years for one bag. 

The reason? Cultivating cotton is a water-intensive process and disposing of totes in an environmentally low-impact way can prove difficult. Only 15 percent of the 30 million tons of cotton produced every year actually end up in textile depositories. Plus, much of the dye used to print logos onto cotton totes are PVC based and not recyclable. All these factors have amounted to what Laura Balmond, a project manager for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular campaign, calls “a really good example of unintended consequences of people trying to make positive choices, and not understanding the full landscape.” 

A Dutch museum launches an exhibition that accommodates the visually impaired. 

Museum-goers often recall the plethora of “Do-Not-Touch” signs that populate the space, but an immersive display titled “The Blind Spot” foregoes that rule. Playing host to an exhibit that is dedicated to the visually impaired, the Utrecht Central Museum extrudes flat canvases into a three-dimensional station where visitors can touch, hear, and smell existing paintings from a range of artists, such as Floris van Dyck. Artist Jasper Udink ten Cate and designer Jeroen Prins blueprinted the idea in order to trigger multiple senses beyond sight and to broaden the museum experience beyond just the visual medium.

A device that quickly clots stab wounds wins this year’s James Dyson Award.

Seeking to reduce fatalities from recurrent stabbings in the UK, Loughborough University graduate Joseph Bentley has launched a device for first responders to prevent haemorrhages from knife lacerations through the injection of a medical-grade silicone balloon tamponade. Coined REACT (Rapid Emergency Actuating Tamponade), the novel device applies internal pressure on an injury and mimics a paramedic technique of packing a wound with gauze. The device was the UK recipient of the 2021 James Dyson Award. “Knife crime is a topic that is personal to me, as two of my friends were victims of knife-related incidents,” says Bentley. “Seeing the profound effect that it had on my friends and their families urged me to try and create a solution that could help others in the future.”

Givenchy’s creative director responds to allegations of knocking off Benjamin Cho.  

Following recent criticism for co-opting late designer Benjamin Cho’s hallmark braided design, Givenchy creative director Matthew Williams has credited his former mentor for his look modelled by Beyoncé in Harper’s Bazaar’s September issue. The controversy began after a series of Instagram posts compared Cho’s braided aesthetic in his Fall 2001 collection to Williams’ line-up for Givenchy for Fall 2021; the criticism snowballed after Diet Prada reported on the allegation. Consequently, Williams responded to the allegations in an Instagram story and noted that his rendition of the dress was an “homage” to Cho, a designer Williams worked closely with in the early years of his fashion career. 

Lil Nas X calls out a double standard in Tony Hawk’s line of blood-painted skateboards.

In March, the release of Lil Nas X’s custom Air Max 97s weathered criticism because the limited-edition sneaker sported satanic imagery and a drop of his own blood. The same scrutiny for a recent drop of blood-painted skateboards from a partnership between Liquid Death Mountain Water and professional skateboarder (and cis white male) Tony Hawk, however, was conspicuously absent. The inherent double standard was caught by the Black and openly gay rapper as he tweeted “are y’all ready to admit y’all were never actually upset over the blood in the shoes? and maybe u were mad for some other reason?” The reaction to the ongoing blood battle is mixed as some support Lil Nas X’s callout on the pretext of race and sexuality, while others note the satanic references as the central issue.

A Seoul exhibition that spotlights Banksy artworks is facing authenticity concerns. 

A celebratory exhibition of the secret street artist Banksy called “The Art of Banksy – Without Limits” kicked off in 2016 across 11 countries, but its appearance in Seoul has been causing controversy. With 250,000 pre-sold tickets, the exhibition at the Seouliteum underwhelmed visitors who were expecting to see authentic Banksy pieces. Within 120 works on display, only 27 were originals—the remaining were replicas intended to project the essence of Banksy. In light of the miscommunication, the organizers plan a full refund for ensuing cancellations. “Banksy is an artist who has been outspoken on social issues,” says LMPE senior manager Park Bong-su. “The exhibition aims to deliver the artist’s messages and help audiences realize they can also spread positive influences to the world in their own ways.”

Today’s attractive distractions:

Nike is bringing back the colorful Air Woven, one of its strangest sneakers to date.

The SNES, one of Nintendo’s most beloved video game consoles, just turned 30.

Sick of the immersive Van Gogh? Fear not: the immersive Monet has arrived.

Watches and clothes are great, but beds have become the ultimate status symbol.

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