Cloth­ing Made out of Food Waste

THE NEXT STEP IN SUS­TAIN­ABIL­ITY Around the world, peo­ple eat around 100 bil­lion food items ev­ery year. That cre­ates around 270 mil­lion tonnes of waste. From peels to stalks which are of­ten burned or left to rot it pol­lutes the air and rot­ting re­leases met

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Cof­fee is not just a bev­er­age – for many of us, it’s a way of life. But the in­no­va­tive team at Sing­tex have taken this one step fur­ther and learned how to spin cof­fee into cloth. By com­bin­ing cof­fee grounds with re­cy­cled plas­tic bot­tles, Sing­tex has cre­ated an eco-friendly fab­ric. How much food is wasted on an av­er­age?

Food loss and food waste refers to the de­crease of food in sub­se­quent stages of the food sup­ply chain in­tended for hu­man con­sump­tion. Food is lost or wasted through­out the sup­ply chain, from ini­tial pro­duc­tion down to fi­nal house­hold con­sump­tion. The de­crease may be ac­ci­den­tal or in­ten­tional, but ul­ti­mately leads to less food avail­able for all. Food that gets spilled or spoilt be­fore it reaches its fi­nal prod­uct or re­tail stage is called food loss. This may be due to prob­lems in har­vest­ing, stor­age, pack­ing, trans­port, in­fra­struc­ture or mar­ket / price mech­a­nisms, as well as in­sti­tu­tional and le­gal frame­works.

Har­vested ba­nanas that fall off a truck, for in­stance, are con­sid­ered food loss. Food that is fit for hu­man con­sump­tion, but is not con­sumed be­cause it is or left to spoil or dis­carded by re­tail­ers or con­sumers is called food waste. This may be be­cause of rigid or mis­un­der­stood date mark­ing rules, im­proper stor­age, buy­ing or cook­ing prac­tices. A car­ton of brown-spot­ted ba­nanas thrown away by a shop, for in­stance, is con­sid­ered food waste.

How food-waste gets turned into cloth­ing

The Uni­ver­sal ex­hi­bi­tion of Mi­lan placed the food is­sue at the cen­tre of the de­bate by em­pha­siz­ing Tex­ti­food’s dis­play of tex­tiles made of ed­i­ble fi­bres. The ex­hi­bi­tion tack­led the prob­lem us­ing the motto Feed the planet, en­ergy for life.

To pro­mote these new fi­bres, lille3000 (part of Tex­ti­food) called upon de­sign­ers and stylists who are ex­cited by

smart and sus­tain­able growth to imag­ine de­signs in­cor­po­rat­ing fibers which have been har­vested from crop residues. On the menu: orange, le­mon, pineap­ple, banana, co­conut, net­tles, algae, mush­room, cof­fee, rice, soya, maize, beet, wine, beer, fish and shell­fish and many more were present. This truly is a sec­tor for the

fu­ture, as each year more than 700,000 tonnes of in­dus­trial waste is pro­duced in Italy alone through the con­ver­sion of citrus in the agro-food in­dus­try. For ex­am­ple, tech­nol­ogy al­lows to spin ap­ple and orange peels, banana skins, pineap­ple leaves, sug­ar­cane bark, mush­rooms and even milk into thread. Sys­tems like Agraloop’s are thus help­ing to re­gen­er­ate de­pleted soil and re­duce air pol­lu­tion. Per­haps best of all, un­like many syn­thet­ics and GMO cot­ton, the cloth­ing re­sult­ing by these new fi­bres are all safe and healthy to wear, as well as re­cy­clable, re­new­able and biodegrad­able.

From a tech­no­log­i­cal stand­point, the sys­tem is a closed-loop bio process that hap­pens at the farm level us­ing mod­u­lar mini-mills, which pro­duce plant-based en­ergy from the same food waste. Un­like grow­ing corn for bio­fuel, the Agraloop con­cept doesn’t com­pete with a farmer’s pri­mary fo­cus of grow­ing food, in­stead pro­vid­ing an ad­di­tional source of in­come.

Im­por­tance and the rise of food waste in the fash­ion in­dus­try

In the UK it has been cal­cu­lated that 60% of wasted food could have ac­tu­ally been used. Many eth­i­cally and en­v­i­ron- men­tally con­scious de­sign­ers who at­tempt to in­te­grate food into fash­ion, and many have al­ready suc­ceeded at it.

De­sign­ers/star­tups who are work­ing on gar­ments from food waste

De­sign­ers such as Em Riem and Ditta Sandico cre­ated dresses made from banana silk fi­bre. The pro­duced fab­ric has a silky fin­ish, is flex­i­ble and wa­ter­proof, and is al­ready in use in Ja­pan, Nepal and the Philip­pines.

Other de­sign­ers such as Chris­tine Phung and Mor­agne Baroghel-crucq col­lab­o­rated to cre­ate an or­ganic dress made from metal thread, flax yarns and fish col­la­gen. While eco cloth­ing brand, L’herbe Rouge, made cloth­ing cre­ated en­tirely from cof­fee – weaved, dyed and fin­ished in a cof­fee bath.

Jacinda Martinez an artist and farmer liv­ing on the coast of Maine, makes clothes that aren’t built to last. Now a gar­dener by day, haute cou­ture de­signer by night, crafts in­tri­cate dresses out of what she grows in her gar­den, to try to send a mes­sage about the fleet­ing na­ture of food and fash­ion. She knots and weaves vines to­gether to make a top, drapes wilted let­tuce and radic­chio at the waist to form a skirt, finds vi­brant color in broc­coli, gar­lic, cab­bage.

En­ter Young-a Lee, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of ap­parel, mer­chan­dis­ing and de­sign at Iowa State Univer­sity, who has cre­ated clothes, shoes, and bags out of the waste from kom­bucha tea.

An­other juicy start-up can be found in Italy is Si­cil­ian-born Adri­ana San­tanoc­ito who has cre­ated a soft, sus­tain­able tex­tile out of citrus waste. Orange Fiber aims to put the 700,000 tonnes of waste cre­ated by the orange juice in­dus­try to good use! Win­ner of Ideas for Change Award from the United Na­tions Eco­nomic Com­mis­sion for Europe, Orange Fiber plans to launch their prod­ucts soon.

Ev­ery year in Ger­many 1.9 mil­lion tonnes of raw milk, un­suit­able for hu­man con­sump­tion, goes to waste. Ger­man com­pany Qmilch has come up with a way to cre­ate some­thing pos­i­tive from a waste­ful in­dus­try. Qmilch’s founder Anke Do­maske de­vel­oped a biodegrad­able, chem­i­cal-free fi­bre us­ing milk waste.

Cof­fee is not just a bev­er­age – for many of us, it’s a way of life. But the in­no­va­tive team at Sing­tex have taken this one step fur­ther and learned how to spin cof­fee into cloth. By com­bin­ing cof­fee grounds with re­cy­cled plas­tic bot­tles, Sing­tex has cre­ated an ecofriendly fab­ric. S.c afé tech­nol­ogy keeps the ma­te­rial wa­ter­proof and odour-free per­fect for outdoor en­thu­si­asts.

Su­nad is a Span­ish brand that makes ex­quis­ite shirts from a sur­pris­ing, nat­u­ral source: modal blended with milk pro­tein (ca­sein). Ca­sein is in­her­ently sus­tain­able – it’s a milk pro­tein that is nor­mally thrown out in the process of cre­at­ing dairy, so us­ing it in fab­ric helps re­duce the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of the dairy in­dus­try.

Who says ve­gan leather has to be made from nasty plas­tic? Lead­ing lux­ury ve­gan shoe brand, Veerah, has just launched a new line of heels made from ap­ple peels. Ac­cord­ing to the com­pany, the heels are a byprod­uct of ap­ple juice that comes from a sus­tain­able or­chard in Italy The pro­duc­tion process in­volves sci­en­tists tak­ing dry ap­ple peels and ex­tract­ing fibers to con­struct ap­ple leather, a sus­tain­able tex­tile.

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