Could Biomaterials Be The Future Of Fashion?

In the fashion and textile industry, sustainability is now an issue that has well and truly come to the forefront. Of course, this is not without good reason, as there is irrefutable evidence of the high carbon footprint of the industry. But trying to sort out the self-serving pledges of fashion brands from genuinely useful information can be a difficult task.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation states: “The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined [and responsible for] around 20% of worldwide wastewater [that] comes from fabric dyeing and treatment.”

Of course, change is not just driven by the brands, but also by how well-informed consumers are about their choices, and how strongly they want to make a difference. A hopeful development, particularly in Europe and the US, is the rise of a small but significant number of companies producing biomaterials.

According to Mongabay, biomaterials are textiles made from non-animal sources, and they can either be synthetic or natural. Examples include materials made from plant leaves, fruit waste, seaweed, or lab cultivated microorganisms.

They avoid the deforestation and overgrazing associated with traditional materials such as wool, cotton, leather, as well as the animal welfare issues and potential for mutant viruses that are caused by fur farms. Many biomaterials are still in the experimental stage, but according to Mongabay, major brands such as H&M have pledged their support.

Whether the rise of biomaterials will provide the answer to the environmental problems of the fashion and textile industry, or whether they are just another passing fad, remains to be seen. There will still be dilemmas to solve with the production and transportation of goods, but maybe it is a positive development that can lead the way to a more sustainable future.


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May 17, 2022 — Jacob Blakey