The clothes of the future could be made from pineapples and bananas

pineapple 2019

Bali, Indonesia (Artem Bali, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Sean Fleming, Senior Writer, Formative Content


If the first thing you think of when you hear about clothes made from food is the meat dress Lady Gaga wore to the 2010 MTV Awards, you’re probably not alone. But there’s a lot more to this idea than headline-grabbing gimmicks.

Fashion is big business. So much so that if the fashion industry were a country, it would be pushing for a place in the top 10 for GDP, with annual sales of $1.3 trillion.

Image: Statista

One of the biggest trends in the world of apparel is fast fashion – mass market, affordable clothing with a high turnover of styles, to keep customers buying. It’s an approach that’s working in terms of numbers. Shoppers buy 60% more clothes than they did 15 years ago, and have doubled the rate at which they dispose of them.

From cotton to leather, the creation of fashion’s raw materials consumes vast amounts of resources and generates huge amounts of pollution and emissions. There are man-made fibres, such as polyester, which are derived from fossil fuels, and around 20% of the world’s wastewater comes from the fashion industry. It also produces huge amounts of microfibres, which eventually find their way into the ocean.

It’s no surprise there is a growing call for more ethically and environmentally responsible clothing. Step forward, Pinatex – an alternative to leather, made from pineapple leaf fibre. Although it is biodegradable, many of the treatments Pinatex receives in the manufacturing process are not. The resins that coat the fibres, for example, are petrochemical-based. But by using a by-product of pineapple agriculture, it is more environmentally friendly than traditional leather and plastic-based alternatives.

 

Bananas are also getting in on the act. Musa fibre is a durable material made from the stem of the banana tree – it’s also known as banana fibre. Biodegradable, very strong yet capable of being spun and woven, musa fibre is already in use as an alternative to traditional textiles. It is comprised of cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin, and bonded using natural gums. It has been used in Japan for centuries.

The clothing company Hugo Boss has a range of Pinatex footwear, while fashion designer Stella McCartney has pioneered the use of a mushroom-based leather alternative called Mylo.

Other food-based clothing and textile innovations include:

Vegeatextile

This EU-funded initiative has taken the wine industry’s leftovers and turned them into Vegea, a leather alternative. The leather-like substance is, unsurprisingly, the colour of red wine and a Vegea dress by the designer Tiziano Guardini was exhibited at London’s V&A Museum.

Image: Vegea

Orange Fiber

The Italian fashion label Salvatore Ferragamo has produced a range of clothes made from a viscose-like material made from oranges. The company behind it, called Orange Fiber, use peel discarded in the production of orange juice.

Image: Orange Fiber

Agraloop

Waste from food crops such as oilseed hemp and oilseed flax straw as well as pineapple leaves, banana trunks and sugar cane bark, has been turned into packaging, fertilizer, biofuel and a new range of bio-friendly fibre. The company behind it won the Global Change Award.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

COP25 climate talks: What just happened, and what lies ahead?

Wide-ranging reforms needed to ensure Italy’s economic recovery

Finding calm in the COVID-19 chaos 

Eurozone: The cycle of deficits, debts and austerity revisited

Lockdown is the world’s biggest psychological experiment – and we will pay the price

Gas pipeline in the European Union. (Copyright: EU, 2012 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Ferenc Isza)

EU Investment Bank approves € 1.5bn loan for Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP)

Approaching the challenges of COVID-19 vaccination

This is how AI can unlock hidden talent in the workplace

Brexit effect: Public opinion survey shows that EU is more appreciated than ever

State aid: Commission approves UK schemes to support SMEs affected by coronavirus outbreak

Parliament and Council agree drastic cuts to plastic pollution of environment

Junker for Commission President: What were the stakes in this affair

This Central Asian lake is a stark reminder of the impact we have on the planet

In polarized America, a new divide looms

Linking HIV prevention with SRHR

4 ways media and entertainment could be more equitable and diverse

On World Health Day, new report says the world needs 6 million more nurses

The world’s largest bus system is starting to go electric

Climate justice is also a local health issue. These 4 grassroots solutions are tackling both

A supercomputer is helping to reduce traffic jams, saving time and money. Here’s how

The age of influence: why digital platforms must come clean about political ads

Password managers aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Here’s why

Consumer protection: Commission welcomes political agreement by Council on the Representative Actions Directive

MEPs endorse EU citizens’ call for gradual end to caged farming

Single European Sky: MEPs ready to start negotiations

Available mental health services: is it only about professionals or institutions?

Humanitarian Aid: EU allocates €55 million in Sudan

5 ways Denmark is preparing for the future of work

European Public Prosecutor’s Office: EU Prosecutors take their oath at the European Court of Justice

A new European Research Area: Commission sets new plan to support green and digital transition and EU recovery

Finnish Prime Minister calls for a more united EU of concrete actions

The creation and maintenance of smoke-free public spaces in the UK

‘A global measles crisis’ is well underway, UN agency chiefs warn

Better outreach to citizens needed to improve effectiveness of European Commission’s public consultations, say Auditors

From violence to dialogue: as land conflicts intensify, UN boosts efforts to resolve disputes through mediation

‘Bicycle Kingdom’ makes a comeback, as China seeks solutions to tackle air pollution crisis

“The Belt and Road Initiative should be mutually beneficial for EU and China and every participating country”, Vice-President Papadimoulis of the European Parliament underscores from European Business Summit 2018

International Women’s Day 2019: women’s power in politics

European Youth Event 2020: giving a voice to young people to influence EU policy

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “You just don’t know if the oil price will be 20$ or 100$ in the next 2-3 years!” top Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff underscores from Davos

‘Ticking bomb’ health warning over deteriorating conditions facing Cyclone Idai victims

Europe’s dirty air kills 400,000 people every year

Warmongers ready to chew what is left of social protection spending

An analysis of the impacts of climate change on human health

Parliament approves the “rule of law conditionality” for access to EU funds

Commission welcomes agreement on additional financial support for the most deprived under REACT-EU

Commission welcomes European Parliament’s approval of Recovery and Resilience Facility

The European Union’s road to sustainability – how each EU state is doing

Approving most of EU’s accounts, EP requests new measures to protect EU spending

Close to final agreement on the EU Banking Union

Tackling Youth Unemployment

To flourish in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we need to rethink these 3 things

Why cybersecurity should be standard due diligence for investors

South Sudan’s peace process ‘precarious, but progress in being made’, Security Council hears

South Sudan: ‘Outraged’ UN experts say ongoing widespread human rights violations may amount to war crimes

Population in crisis hit EU countries will suffer for decades

Poland: attacks on media freedom and the EU legal order need to stop

After Brexit and Grexit, Brussels to deal with Poloust

Neelie Kroes at the European Young Innovators Forum: Unconvention 2014

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: