Sustainable fabrics: fashion made of milk and algae

It's a simple math problem: As the world's population grows, so does the need for clothing. At the same time, cultivation areas for the necessary cotton shrink. They are needed for living space and the cultivation of food. Although more and more cotton has been grown in recent years - 20 million tonnes in 2000 - its share of global fiber production has fallen. At the end of the nineties, it accounted for just under half of all fibers, not even a third at the moment. Kirsten Brodde, a journalist, book author and former textile expert at Greenpeace, sees the end of cotton supremacy coming: "Tomorrow's wardrobe needs more to hang than just cotton - it uses too much water and surface. which are obtained from waste products. " For fast-fashion chains like H & M and Zara, many things are still made of polyester or polyacrylic, but experts like Brodde are also predicting an uncertain future for man-made fibers. Many are made from petroleum, but this is becoming scarcer, more expensive and is not biodegradable.

One solution could be so-called "natural synthetic fibers", high-tech fibers from renewable raw materials such as algae, bananas, hemp or bamboo, which textile manufacturers and fashion brands are now increasingly developing. Andreas Engelhardt, author of the "Black Book Cotton: What we really wear on the skin", considers it the fabric of the future. Most of their extraction is based on cellulose, the main constituent of plant cell walls, which are processed into yarns in high-tech processes. But even from milk fibers can be obtained, which feel almost silky on the skin. Some manufacturers make fibers from recycled subway tickets. What they all have in common is that, for fiber production, the raw materials are made into a pulp, from which the threads can be pressed and the fibers spun.

Sustainable fabrics: Tyvek

Among other things invented for protective clothing and medical packaging, the innovative fiber is also gradually being used in fashion. The sustainable label Luxaa entangles Tyvek into a mixture that is washable up to 90 degrees, does not form lint or nodules, is hypoallergenic and 100 percent recyclable. Tyvek is made of polyethylene and can be recycled up to five times. It behaves in the original state like paper, but is much more durable. The manufacturer and inventor DuPont accepts products from Tyvek and returns them to the recycling cycle, even at Luxaa the clothes can be returned for recycling.

Coat from Tyvek of Luxaa, around 259 euros.

Fashion of milk

Soft, silky, antibacterial. In the production of milk fibers is dispensed with chemical additives, also the milk fibers are pH neutral, which makes them especially recommended for allergy sufferers and people with skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis. Do not worry: fiber production does not use milk that would otherwise be used as food. The regulations governing what can be sold in the supermarket are so strict that according to Anke Domaske, the inventor of this fiber called "Qmilch", 20 percent of the milk production can not be processed for food. Thus, even waste is avoided in the manufacture of the fiber. For her fashion label Mademoiselle Chi Chi, Domaske makes whole dresses from milk fibers. Laundry company Mey also uses milk fibers spun with micromodal in its "Mey Cream" collection.

Milk fiber blouse from Mumofsix over Farfetch, around 415 euros.

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Sustainable fabrics: banana fiber

The eco-fashion pioneer Hess Natur has a scarf made of banana, or more precisely, banana fiber. Raw material for this are waste from banana plantations. What would otherwise land on the garbage or compost is thus spun into fine yarns. Finished, the fabric is reminiscent of wild silk. Outdoor manufacturer Raffauf, part of the campaign for Sauber clothing, also processes the abaca product in some pieces of clothing. The fiber is tear-resistant, robust and even seawater-resistant. It used to be made from a rope. Thanks to its finer technology, it is also suitable today for weatherproof outdoor jackets.

Purse made of banana fibers from Green Banana Paper via Avocado Store, to 45 euros.

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Sustainable substances: cellulose

Lyocell is a cellulose-based product made from wood. But unlike viscose, the production is environmentally friendly because it can be dispensed with chemical additives. The solvent spinning process of the manufacturer Lenzing, which produces Lyocell under the brand name Tencel, is a closed production cycle, which has been awarded by the European Union with the "European Award for the Environment". The cellulose is sprayed through fine nozzles and hardened into fibers from which yarn is spun.The fabrics have the positive qualities of silk and linen: soft and soft in the case, cooling and absorbent than cotton. Manufacturers, among others Tencel respectively. Using lyocell in their collections are the labels L'Herbe Rouge or Lanius Köln. Modal, too, is a cellulose-derived fiber, but only certified beech wood is used for this purpose. Similar to Modal, the process is bamboo. He is considered to be particularly environmentally friendly, because he grows rapidly and for the cultivation neither pesticides nor fertilizer are needed.

Cellulose fiber dress from Lovjoi via Avocadostore, around 140 euros.

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Alga - softer than cotton

Algae are almost unlimited available and grow steadily. This makes them one of the most resource-efficient raw materials used by labels such as Umasan or Seaweed Fashion in their collections in Germany. The end product SeaCell is a combination of cellulose and algae powder, which is introduced into the fiber and remains there permanently. The result feels softer than cotton, almost silky. In addition, substances with algae content are said to have a similar skin care effect as a visit to the spa bath, where algae have been used for a long time. For this reason, the lingerie manufacturer Speidel spins SeaCell with cotton-spandex blends into underwear. When worn, the skin should also be supplied with calcium and magnesium and thereby tightened. How convenient.

Shirt from Seacell by Seidel, around 30 euros.

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Sustainable fabrics: hemp

Hemp is one of the oldest and longest known plant fibers. As early as around 3000 BC, hemp was used to make ropes, canvas or clothing. Hemp grows quickly and is undemanding, so the plant creates more than four feet of growth in just 100 days. Furthermore, it does not require pesticides and herbicides in agricultural cultivation. As with linen, the fiber is extracted from the stems of the plant. Hemp is also good for the skin: As a sock, it absorbs sweat quickly and, as an outer garment, it has a high level of natural UV protection. Since hemp has the same microelectrical tension as human skin, it also does not charge electrostatically.

Top of Thought about Avocadostore, around 59 euros.

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Suzanne Lee of BioCouture explains how to make clothes from bacteria (August 2020).

Fashion, algae, cultivation, food, fiber, outdoor, Greenpeace, Hennes & Mauritz, sustainable fabrics, sustainability, green, fibers, bamboo