Gabriella Jacobsen, 2016 EIL Industrial Design Scholarship Recipient, VT
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Gabriella Jacobsen, 2016 EIL Industrial Design Scholarship Recipient, VT

21 June 2016

According to Jacobsen, her project evolved out of the desire to improve the environment through sustainable design. 

“I saw an opportunity to re-use the plastic bags, encourage recycling through design, and create a product that would appeal to a larger, tech-savvy market. By using a recycled material one could lower the price of an insulated bag while still having a valuable design in comparison to the price of bags that used leather or high-grade textiles as part of their products.” 

Jacobsen discovered data from the Ocean Conservancy’s annual International Coastal Cleanup, which found plastic bags to be among the most frequently collected trash types on beaches around the world. 

“The plastic’s extremely low decomposition rate leaves the bags to drift in the ocean for years, and ocean life and organisms ingest the plastic, causing problems. Yet, the bag’s high-density polyethylene material is 100 percent recyclable,” she added. “I designed the bag to help reduce overall plastic waste, as well as carbon dioxide emissions by using the already processed plastic bags,” said Jacobsen. 

The combination fabric and plastic bag is made from recycled plastic bags, a yard of organic cotton canvas, canvas thread, and biodegradable dye. According to Jacobsen, her bag design incorporates 60 to 70 fused plastic bags as an interior moisture barrier and cushioning material. 

“The cotton fabric exterior and the plastic lining are simply connected by a few stitches. Instructions for easy disassembly at the end of product life are included with the bag at sale. I wanted the product to tell the story of sustainability. I discovered I could heat stamp patterns into the plastic fabric, and chose to use an organic wave pattern to symbolize the connection between recycling plastic bags and a cleaner ocean,” explained Jacobsen. 

Aside from the EIL Scholarship award, Jacobsen won the Fall, 2015 C2C Product Design Challenge for Best Student Project sponsored by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and Autodesk. For more in-depth information on Jacobsen's design, visit her website.

About the scholarship

The Eastman Innovation Lab (EIL) Industrial Design Scholarship is an annual award by the Eastman Chemical Company in honor and memory of those affected by the events of April 16, 2007. The merit based scholarship is divided into three grade levels: rising junior, rising senior and graduating senior. According to Ed Dorsa, IDSA, Industrial Design Program Chair at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, the scholarship winners are determined by the faculty based on excellence in work, overall quality of work and general attitude.