Biotech: The Superman of the Fashion Industry

Image Credit: Stuvvz

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a technology that could reduce the fashion industry’s environmental footprint without harming production quality.

It’s biotechnology!

What Is It?

Biotechnology is an emerging field focused on creating more sustainable materials by utilizing biological elements (e.g. living organisms). From the incorporation of genetics to computer science, innovation in biotechnology can be used to solve global issues. In recent years, biotechnology has been used to help prevent and treat diseases and create more sustainable food systems.

In particular, biotechnology has had a large impact on the fashion industry. With a high carbon footprint and a well-known polluter of water, the fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to climate change. In utilizing biotechnology, the production of fabrics like cotton, which use harmful pesticides that endanger both humans and the environment, can be reduced. Biotechnology can provide sustainable, eco-friendly fabrics that would reduce the need for cotton in the first place.

Algae Case Study

Algae textiles are one of the newest fabrics to come from biotechnology. A diverse aquatic organism found almost everywhere on the Earth, algae are used to form a yarn-like fiber. Specifically, a sugar called alginate is derived from kelp, a type of algae, and powdered. It is then turned from a powder to a water-based gel. At this stage, plant-based color (like carrot juice) is added. The gel is extruded into long strands of fiber, which are woven together to create the algae fabric.

Image Credit: Dezeen

Clothing made from this algae can respirate through photosynthesis, meaning it could turn carbon dioxide into oxygen. This would make algae a carbon-negative fabric! Charlotte McCurdy, the designer who created an algae raincoat, cited how easy the process of creating the coat was. Minimum effort is required to process algae into fabric, which is highly promising.

Meeting the 2030 Carbon Neutral Goals

As the fashion industry begins to shift towards being more environmentally-friendly, biotechnology provides a promising sustainable solution. Creating clothing from fabrics like algae would not only reduce carbon emissions, but it also allows consumers to be more environmentally-conscious and intentional with their purchases. Furthermore, with future innovation, fashion brands will not have to sacrifice style or quality by using algae fabric. Biotechnology is a promising tool to meet aggressive 2030 carbon neutral goals.

References & Resources to Learn More

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