T-shirts made from wood and algae can be composted


  • A London-based startup tech company has come up with a new solution to reducing textile waste by designing t-shirts that can be composted afterward.
  • Called the Plant and Algae T-Shirt, its fabric comes from tree pulp while the ink of the shirt is purely sourced from algae.
  • Through a bioreactor filter, algae are separated, dried and mixed with water to produce algae ink.

For the first time ever, a clothing company has thought of making t-shirts out of wood pulp and algae that can be composted after its use.

The Plant and Algae T-Shirt designed by tech startup Vollebak based in London was made as such so that wearers can just bury the shirt in their backyard at the end of its life.

Photo Credit: Vollebak
Photo Credit: Vollebak

The fabric is made of endurably sourced materials from eucalyptus, beech, and spruce trees that are pulped and spun into textile yarn. The shirt’s ink is made wholly from algae grown by the designers in a bioreactor.

“Instead of passing lake water through a cotton net, we pass water from the bioreactor through a filter,” according to the Vollebak website. This process isolates the algae turning it into a soupy paste, which is then dried in the sun creating a fine powder. The process ends with blending the powder with a water-based binder to create algae ink.

Algae, which cannot survive without water, change into a natural pigment which fades to different hues over after some time. This is why the Vollebak designers say that after going through several washes, no shirts end up looking the same.

The website also wrote that the Plant and Algae T-Shirt feels like a normal shirt when worn and will biodegrade only when it is buried in the ground or composted.

“If you want it to biodegrade, you have to bury it in the ground, because it needs the fungus, bacteria and heat from the Earth to start to break down,” adding that biodegrading takes 8 to 12 weeks.

The shirts were developed to be a fresh solution to textile waste. EPA reported that in 2015 alone, nearly 10.5 million tons of textiles were dumped in landfills, which is roughly 7.6% of the total landfill waste. With the textile industry using about 25 million gallons of water every year, 25 to 40 gallons water is estimated to be used in dyeing 2 pounds of fabric.

While the t-shirts may be a bit pricey at $110 per piece, the concept could start a new generation of eco-friendly clothing.

The website also wrote that this fabric also scores 10 compared to cotton’s score of 60 in the Higg MSI scoring system- tools that enable brands to accurately measure and score a company of product’s sustainability performance. But for Vollebak, their aim is to score 0.


Source: Good News Network

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