If you ever worry about the environmental impact of the waste produced by fashion fads that quickly die out, you are not alone. Scientific American reported this month that in an effort to make keeping up with styles more sustainable, a group headed by assistant professor Theanne Schiros at the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.) in New York is developing biodegradable fabric grown from microorganisms.
COURTESY OF ARCHITONIC
As bizarre as it sounds, this idea has merit. In the first place, it reduces the synthetic, non-biodegradable clothing that is thrown into landfills with organic matter that breaks down into non-toxic substances. Scientific American cites an EPA sustainable materials report identifying 9 percent of municipal solid waste in the U.S. in 2014 was clothes. Changing the fabric of clothes could get rid of that percentage of synthetic fibers going into landfills. Schiros claims that her algae-based fabrics are strong and flexible and can be dyed with non-toxic, natural dyes. Scientific American observes that the algae-based fabric biodegrades much faster than cotton and requires less land and pesticides to produce. Fascinatingly, due to the nature of microorganism growth, the clothes could be grown on a mold, reducing waste fabric and pollutants due to mass production of clothing. It may also produce truly seamless clothing.
Although the durability of this fabric has not yet been proven, do not be surprised if in ten years your clothes are made of fabric grown by microorganisms instead of farmers. Small innovations like this one are key to a more sustainable future for the human race.