Class of 2022

Nidiya Kusmaya

Science Innovators

30 / Sukabumi, Indonesia

The Indonesian textile artist turning food waste into clothing

Indonesian textile artist Nidiya Kusmaya is not just challenging the status quo with her research, she is linking the food chain to sustainable clothing production.

The textile industry has grown to be one of the world’s largest sources of pollution, leading the search for environmentally friendly dye to be more important than ever before. Promoting her sustainable alternatives to industrial synthetic materials, Nidiya travels to rural areas of Indonesia with the Institute of Technology in Bandung and the Indonesian Government to showcase how food and textiles may be combined to solve some of the world’s agriculture waste problems.

Nidiya’s dye may be manufactured from the most basic kitchen produce, such as pruned plants, damaged vegetables and fruit peelings. Using microorganisms, Nidiya treats protein and carbohydrate-rich ingredients with fermentation techniques to make pigments that can be used in textiles and has recently discovered that the process also works with some kitchen-based micro fungi and bacteria, too.

Guided by a philosophy of co-existence with living things, Nidiya sees a close relationship between food, textiles, colours and culture. To her, creating colours from food materials is more than just a form of expression or art. It is part of a broader study of the relationships between humans, nature and spirituality.

“I draw inspiration from when I see things grow. For me, the process of creating colours from food materials deeply links nature with humans and God. It’s a relationship that will continue to develop until the end of time.” – Nidiya Kusmaya

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