Biodegradation - the breakdown of textiles in outdoor conditions
A hole in the ground is lined with a special separating fleece to minimise external influences from the soil. The textiles are secured in a mesh frame and placed in the burial location. The left side of the T-shirt is made of pure polyester, and the right side of 100% cotton. The jeans are made of 99% cotton and 1% elastane. The textiles are buried in microbiologically standardised soil.
Dug up for the first time after two weeks, initial discoloration can be seen
The textiles are dug up and assessed for the first time after two weeks. Already the first discoloration of the cotton fabric can be seen.
Dug up for the second time after five weeks, fibres of the cotton fabric are starting to deteriorate
In the fifth week, the textiles are dug up again and examined with a stereo microscope. The damage to the fibres in the cotton fabric can be clearly seen.
Dug up for the third time after seven weeks, cotton fibres starting to break
When the textiles are dug up for the third time after seven weeks, the breakdown of the cotton (right side of the T-shirt and jeans) is already quite advanced. The polyester, on the other hand, does not yet show any sign of decomposition.
Dug up for the last time after 14 weeks
The right-hand side of the T-shirt has completely decomposed apart from the seams. The elastane fibres can still be seen in the buried jeans.