This Climate-Change-Detecting T-Shirt Totally Freaks Us Out

Fashion could bring climate change to the masses.Would you wear a shirt that shows how polluted water actually is?

Don’t worry—the “experiment” is simple, fun, and fashion-forward.

The project

Lauren Bowker, material alchemist and founder of THEUNSEEN, and David de Rothschild, of lifestyle company The Lost Explorer, use fashion and science to engage people in the climate change discussion.

The duo recently launched Water, a project designed to help people better understand the effects of water pollution via fashion. Jacob Chabeaux and Dazed Digital had a hand in producing the project, too.

The project allows people to use simple science and t-shirts to make pH sensors.

It’s all about red cabbage

Did you know that red cabbage has a component that can indicate pH levels? The cabbage’s natural dye changes color when it comes in contact with different pH levels.

“PH is an innate property of water, one that defines the limits within which life can and can’t thrive,” Bowker says.

After following a specific but simple recipe, your t-shirt will initially be purple. This color indicates that purest form of neutral water.

“When the t-shirt comes into contact with non-neutral water, the pH level of that water is then revealed through the colour of the garment, forming colour shifts through the pH scale from alkaline green to acidic red,” Bowker explains.

“This enables the wearer to visualise the level of pollution in the water they are being exposed to.”

Embrace the change

Climate change scares a lot of people. And De Rothschild totally gets it. That’s a natural reaction! However, he also thinks that if people truly want to understand climate change, they have to embrace it.

He’s concerned that people merely fear nature—they focus on killer storms and other deadly natural disasters, which causes disconnection.

That’s why Bowker and de Rothschild hope that Water will make people take notice and think, “woe—nature is a bit freaky—but incredibly awe-inspiring, too.”

So go ahead. Put on your fashion-forward, pH detecting t-shirt and embrace the strange, curious world of science.

Want to make your own pH detecting shirt? Check out the short tutorial here.

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Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy!, a freelance writing and editing company, and home funeral hub. Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.