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Table: Fabric You Can Eat

Steelcase subsidiary Designtex wanted to make an ecologically safe fabric and hired environmental designers McDonough and Braungart to tackle the effort. Highlights of the project:

-- 60 chemical companies were invited to join the project. All declined except for one, Ciba-Geigy.

-- Ciba-Geigy's 4,500 dye formulas were evaluated for heavy metals, toxins, and carcinogens.

-- 16 passed the test--enough to make the fabric.

-- Under the new manufacturing process, which turns the textile mill into a water filter, the effluent is safe enough to drink.

-- Fabric trimmings, which before were labeled hazardous waste, are now used as mulch.

-- McDonough and Braungart are opening the new manufacturing secrets to any company that wants them.

Data: Susan Lyons, William McDonough & Partners, and Michael Braungart

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