Weaving 'silk' from sour milk: 5 sustainable fabrics of the future

Made from waste materials, these high-tech textiles could help to offset the destructive impact the fast fashion industry has on the planet

13 May 2018 - 00:00 By Andrea Nagel

1. PARLEY
Adidas and Parley for the Oceans, an environmental organisation that addresses ocean plastic pollution, have created sports shoes and soccer clothing made from plastic waste. Adidas x Parley made the Real Madrid and FC Bayern Munich home jerseys last year.
2. ORANGE FIBRE
Two Sicilians, Adriana Santanocito and Enrica Arena, have created a textile made by extracting the cellulose from fibres discarded after the industrial pressing and processing of oranges.
Using nanotechnology, the fibres are also enriched with citrus essential oils that nourish the skin while you wear the garment.3. QMILCH
German microbiology student Anke Domaske has discovered how to make fabric from milk protein. Domaske’s inspiration comes from her father, who, while undergoingcancer treatment, struggled with skin problems and sensitivity to fabrics.
The milk is heated, combined with ingredients like beeswax, and spun into thread. Theprocess cuts down on water waste, uses milk turned sour that would have gone to waste, and feels like silk. It is odourless, can be washed and dries twice as fast as cotton. It also regulates body temperature and blood circulation.4. PIÑATEX
Carmen Hijosa, founder of Ananas Anam, has developed Piñatex, an alternative to cotton and petroleum-based textiles made from pineapple leaf fibres, a by-product of the pineapple harvest.
The material is leather-like (but will be cheaper than leather) and can be used to manufacture shoes and handbags.
5. (IN)VISIBLE MEMBRANE
Sonja Bäumel’s work mediates between art and science, fashion and science, design and science, between clothes and body, between fiction and facts.
Though not strictly a possibility yet, she explores how the bacteria on human skin can be used to make clothing that adapts to the environment. Bacteria, she suggests, can be transformed into a visible, functional and flexible membrane that could serve as a new type of clothing with great health benefits.

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