Actioning the Global Goals for Local Impact: Towards Sustainability Science

Introducing Fish Skin as a Sustainable Raw Material for Fashion

Exceptional Women in Sustainability: Elisa Palomino, Central Saint Martins

Impact: In recent years there has been a growing interest in fish skin – a by-product of the food industry – as an alternative sustainable raw material for fashion. Global production of fish has steadily increased over the last decade and more than 50% of the total remaining material from fish capture results in 32 million tonnes of waste. A substantial amount of this waste is the skin of the fish; only a small percentage of this skin is processed into leather. While, to date, the European Environment Agency allows seafood processors to dispose of fish skins in marine waters, this is expected to change as the decomposing organic waste can suck up available oxygen from marine species and introduce disease into the local ecosystem. Fish skin leather processing could prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution and sustainably protect marine ecosystems in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans. This paper describes the conditions necessary for the development of fish skin craftsmanship within a Fashion Higher Education sustainable curriculum. In order to enhance the innovation and sustainable design of fish leather products, the author has developed an impactful capacity-building approach connecting fashion students with the Icelandic fish leather industry, which is renowned for sustainable sourcing from Nordic fish farms, promoting the sustainable use of ocean-based resources.