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Community sustainable fashion  fungi  roots from mycoworks  inspidere | Upload Lifestyle

Sustainable Fashion: Fungi, Roots From MycoWorks, Inspidere

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by: Jans Jansen
sustainable fashion  fungi  roots from mycoworks  inspidere | Upload

Environmental action group Extinction Rebellion disrupted London Fashion Week to highlight the harms of throwaway culture and the concurrent climate emergency that the clothing market contributes to. Calling for the cancellation of future fashion weeks in acknowledgement of the crisis, it plans to target show venues and hold a funeral procession called 'London Fashion Week: Rest in Peace'.

These may be new tactics but the problems with the industry have long been known. Very high water usage, pollution, a high carbon footprint and bad working conditions mean that the fashion industry, and in particular cheap cotton garments such as denim jeans, are known to be extremely environmentally and socially damaging. This is before we even consider the impact of fast fashion, inexpensive clothing produced rapidly in response to the latest trends. Such items inevitably end up in an overfull landfill site before they are even near 'worn out'.

Sustainable Fashion: Slow Fashion

Currently in Vogue is the concept of 'slow fashion', an approach which considers the processes and resources required to make clothing and recommends that we buy quality garments that will last for longer. Another often touted option is the recommendation that we simply buy less, something encouraged by the protest groups involved in ‘Buy Nothing Day’ and initiatives such as Oxfam’s.
man and woman between colorful cloth

Attempting to reduce the demand for new clothes is certainly going to be an important part of a more sustainable future. But what this ignores is the fact that the fashion industry is not a system that is about need. Rather, it is driven by desire, aspiration, gender politics and celebrity culture. Changing behaviour – by encouraging consumers to stop buying new things at all – would, to us, seem more immediately difficult and multifaceted than creating an alternative, aesthetically viable material solution.

What is mushroom fabric?
A new organic textile has been developed that is grown from mushroom spores and plant fibres. The material is called MYX, from the mycelium: the vegetable part of a mushroom. MYX is grown during a 3-4 week period, using the oyster mushroom, a common edible fungus. ... It is grown on a matrix of strands of plant fibre

But this does not seem to be reflected in most design attempts so far to create sustainable, circular fashion. Take the rise of ‘fair trade fashion’ and organic cotton, for example. In our view, most of these purportedly sustainable alternatives do not seem to be able to tackle the complexity of the fashion system or the different components of it adequately. Organic cotton is still environmentally harmful and the price of “fair trade” fashion is often prohibitively expensive for many consumers.

Another recent design trend is the use of electronics and 'smart materials' to make garments interactive and more engaging, supposedly giving them longevity. But there is little research into how such textiles may be disposed of – and they are not likely to be cheap, either.

black woman with white shirt text smart

As such, we feel that materials that are already abundant in nature offer the best alternatives. Think of polylactic acid (PLA), a substance made from vegetable starch and already used to make biodegradable carrier bags but have the potential to be developed into textiles. Or Tencel and Lyocell, materials that are made from sustainable wood pulp and are already on the market.

Then there’s anything made from collagen, “animal protein” and a natural polymer, which although not so popular with vegans, has been developed into ‘Zoa’, a luxury leather alternative by Modern Meadow, and our own experiments working with waste materials. Sustainable materials of this kind are what we should be focusing on.

Mushroom Materials Create Sustainable Fashion

Particularly exciting are the growing number of companies producing mushroom alternatives to packaging, building materials and leather. Stella McCartney, for example, is collaborating with Bolt Threads on a ‘Mylo’ mushroom leather range of accessories.

shoe made from mushroom Stella McCartney
Shoes made from mushrooms by Stella McCartney

There are several projects and companies working in this area and their outputs are diverse and inventive. Of particular note are MycoWorks, who have created 'a new kind of leather grown rapidly from mycelium and agricultural by-products in a carbon-negative process'. They say that the material is sustainable, versatile, and animal–free.

MuSkin, another leather alternative, is made out of Phellinus ellipsoideus, a fungus that rots wood in subtropical forests. Meanwhile, Ecovative Design, who started out making an alternative to plastic packaging but have branched out into creating leather and foam from mycelium.

Mushroom package material
Package material made from mushrooms

And in a similar area – not using fungi but microbes – is leather made from the cellulosic scoby bacteria that is used in the making of kombucha tea. There are lots of companies experimenting with this technique, such as Biocouture. This material, when dried out, looks like a clear, pale brown leather with a flexible plastic texture.

How do you make mushroom bricks?
The mushroom brick is "grown" by mixing together chopped-up corn husks with mycelium. The mixture is then put into a brick mould and left to grow for five days. The result is a brick that is solid, but lightweight. The 'mushroom tower' is then assembled using a custom algorithm to lay the bricks layer by layer.

We have our own experience in this field: a couple of years ago we collaborated on an attempt to make a material out of mushrooms. We grew our material from the vegetable waste from a tuber-derived cellulose powder product made by a company in Scotland. We wanted to create a location-specific fungal material, differing from the other current projects mentioned.
Our initial samples looked and had the texture and appearance of furry burnt crisps: it was clear we weren’t going to grow jeans or undermine the denim industry in the short space of time we had. But this objective and passion for the possibilities of mycelium in this context has stayed with us, and we are not the only ones.

The benefits of growing a textile-like material from fungi or bacteria as opposed to cotton, man-made fabrics or worse still, blends such as ‘poly-cotton’ are many. Fungi are naturally abundant in nature, quick to grow (on a range of waste materials) and their growth uses a lot less water than traditional textile manufacture. In theory, a fungal product is also completely biodegradable, can be strong, can be colourful, water repellent, can be edible, and can have medicinal properties. And the list goes on.

Bio Bomber Jacket
Bio 'Bomber Jack' made from mushrooms

As a way to disrupt the fashion system as a whole, fungi or bacteria based textile alternatives might still be some way off. But while the over consumption and toxic wastefulness of the fashion and traditional textile industry continues, design in this area can also be seen as an act of environmental protest.

One of the greatest challenges faced by the textiles and fashion industry is to make itself more sustainable, not just in terms of economic and labour force issues but in the face of ecological necessity. The production of textiles involves a long chain of complex processes to convert raw materials such as fibres or petroleum into finished fabrics or fashion products. These processes are typically resource intensive, requiring high concentrations of chemicals, large amounts of water and involving high temperatures and long processing times. This commonly results in high energy consumption and waste.

Recommended: Sustainable Fabric By IKEA and NIKE Textile Without Pollution

A transition towards a more sustainable textiles and fashion sector requires approaches that can minimise its environmental and social impacts, therefore opting for cleaner manufacturing processes which can dramatically reduce carbon emissions and water use and eliminate the use of harmful chemicals.

Here are five ways nature is being explored by individuals, research teams and industry to help make fashion more sustainable. Scientists are uncovering and exploiting underlying mechanisms and models found in nature to design new materials, processes and products as well as systems of production for the future. These range from traditional to contemporary processes that use low or high-tech methods, practised by artists in their studios to scientists in labs or artists and scientists working together collaboratively.

Design Tools: Enzymes

Enzymes are highly specific biocatalysts found within the cells of all living organisms. They offer the possibility of manufacturing textiles using simpler and less severe processing conditions which can reduce the consumption of chemicals, energy and water and the generation of waste. As a result, enzymes have successfully replaced a range of industrial textile processes, since they started being used in the early part of the 20th century.

3 Glass pots with liquid enzymes

Cellulases and another group of enzymes called laccases are used in the production of stonewashed denim fabrics and garments. Stonewashed effects on indigo dyed cotton denim used to be created by pumice stones – but the use of pumice stones caused damage to both fibres and machines.

Working with colleagues from De Montfort University, I have been investigating the possibilities of using laccase and protease as creative design tools to make industrial textile processes more sustainable.

In our research we used enzymes to synthesise textile dyes and pattern fabrics using ambient processing conditions, such as temperatures as low as 50°C at atmospheric pressure. We now have ways to create many different colours with just a slight alteration of processing conditions, reacting enzymes and compounds together in various different conditions in a technique that eliminates the need to use pre-manufactured dyes.

Leather: Zoa

From collagen: The area of synthetic biology is growing at a rapid rate, and as a result many companies such as New York-based Modern Meadow are exploring the possibilities this area of modern science offers. The company has successfully bio-fabricated a leather alternative called Zoa.

The advanced material is constructed from collagen (a protein) – the main component of natural leather – but Zoa is designed and grown in a lab from animal-free collagen derived from yeast.

The material is capable of replicating the qualities of leather and offers new design aesthetics and performance properties not previously possible – while also eliminating the high environmental impact of raising cows and tanning their hides (which is often a toxic process).

From fungi: Similarly, San Francisco-based MycoWorks – among others – has been exploring the possibilities of creating sustainable materials using fungi. Mycelium, (a mushroom root material) which is grown from fungi and agricultural by-products is custom engineered in a lab using a carbon negative process.
Leather from MycoWorks

It is easy to cultivate, fast growing and can be easily manipulated to adopt the properties similar to leather and many other mainstream materials such as wood and polystyrene.

Sustainable Fashion: Roots, Inspidere

Grass roots: An interesting project by the artist Diana Scherer called Interwoven explores the fabrication of materials using living plant networks which could be used to construct garments of the future. She has developed a process which manipulates oat and wheat plant roots to grow intricate lace-like textile materials.



                                           Sustainable Fashion: Fungi, Roots From MycoWorks, Inspidere
                                                             The future of fashion: Diana Scherer

She buries templates in the soil that act as moulds, which manipulates and channels the plants root systems to reveal woven structures constructed from geometrics and delicate motifs once the fabric is excavated.

Cow manure: In a circular economy model, nothing is considered waste. In the Netherlands, a company called Inspidere has developed a method it has called Mestic that uses cow manure to produce new textiles. The processing method enables cellulose to be extracted from manure to produce two materials, viscose and cellulose acetate. The manure is separated and processed in a lab to extract pure cellulose, which is further processed to create viscose (regenerated cellulose) and cellulose acetate (bio-plastic), both of which can be turned into textiles. The group have achieved lab-scale success, the challenge remains to scale this process up commercially.

These are just a few of the ways in which nature is being harnessed to provide the textile and fashion industry with realistic and viable options to move towards sustainability.

Before you go!

Recommended: Israeli 3D Printed Fashion As Sustainable Works Of Art

Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below.
We try to respond the same day.

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Click on 'Register' or push the button 'Write An Article' on the 'HomePage'

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Sustainable Fashion: Fungi, Roots From MycoWorks, Inspidere

Environmental action group Extinction Rebellion disrupted London Fashion Week to highlight the harms of throwaway culture and the concurrent climate emergency that the clothing market contributes to.  Calling for the cancellation of future fashion weeks in acknowledgement of the crisis, it plans to target show venues and hold a funeral procession called 'London Fashion Week: Rest in Peace'. These may be new tactics but the problems with the industry have long been known. Very high water usage, pollution, a high carbon footprint and bad working conditions mean that the fashion industry, and in particular cheap cotton garments such as denim jeans, are known to be extremely environmentally and socially damaging. This is before we even consider the impact of fast fashion, inexpensive clothing produced rapidly in response to the latest trends. Such items inevitably end up in an overfull landfill site before they are even near 'worn out'. Sustainable Fashion: Slow Fashion Currently in Vogue is the concept of 'slow fashion', an approach which considers the processes and resources required to make clothing and recommends that we buy quality garments that will last for longer. Another often touted option is the recommendation that we simply buy less, something encouraged by the protest groups involved in ‘Buy Nothing Day’ and initiatives such as Oxfam’s. Attempting to reduce the demand for new clothes is certainly going to be an important part of a more sustainable future. But what this ignores is the fact that the fashion industry is not a system that is about need. Rather, it is driven by desire, aspiration, gender politics and celebrity culture. Changing behaviour – by encouraging consumers to stop buying new things at all – would, to us, seem more immediately difficult and multifaceted than creating an alternative, aesthetically viable material solution. What is mushroom fabric? A new organic textile has been developed that is grown from mushroom spores and plant fibres. The material is called MYX, from the mycelium: the vegetable part of a mushroom. MYX is grown during a 3-4 week period, using the oyster mushroom, a common edible fungus. ... It is grown on a matrix of strands of plant fibre But this does not seem to be reflected in most design attempts so far to create sustainable, circular fashion. Take the rise of ‘fair trade fashion’ and organic cotton, for example. In our view, most of these purportedly sustainable alternatives do not seem to be able to tackle the complexity of the fashion system or the different components of it adequately. Organic cotton is still environmentally harmful and the price of “fair trade” fashion is often prohibitively expensive for many consumers. Another recent design trend is the use of electronics and 'smart materials' to make garments interactive and more engaging, supposedly giving them longevity. But there is little research into how such textiles may be disposed of – and they are not likely to be cheap, either. As such, we feel that materials that are already abundant in nature offer the best alternatives. Think of polylactic acid (PLA), a substance made from vegetable starch and already used to make biodegradable carrier bags but have the potential to be developed into textiles. Or Tencel and Lyocell, materials that are made from sustainable wood pulp and are already on the market. Then there’s anything made from collagen, “animal protein” and a natural polymer, which although not so popular with vegans, has been developed into ‘Zoa’, a luxury leather alternative by Modern Meadow, and our own experiments working with waste materials. Sustainable materials of this kind are what we should be focusing on. Mushroom Materials Create Sustainable Fashion Particularly exciting are the growing number of companies producing mushroom alternatives to packaging, building materials and leather. Stella McCartney, for example, is collaborating with Bolt Threads on a ‘Mylo’ mushroom leather range of accessories. Shoes made from mushrooms by Stella McCartney There are several projects and companies working in this area and their outputs are diverse and inventive. Of particular note are MycoWorks, who have created 'a new kind of leather grown rapidly from mycelium and agricultural by-products in a carbon-negative process'. They say that the material is sustainable, versatile, and animal–free. MuSkin, another leather alternative, is made out of Phellinus ellipsoideus, a fungus that rots wood in subtropical forests. Meanwhile, Ecovative Design, who started out making an alternative to plastic packaging but have branched out into creating leather and foam from mycelium. Package material made from mushrooms And in a similar area – not using fungi but microbes – is leather made from the cellulosic scoby bacteria that is used in the making of kombucha tea. There are lots of companies experimenting with this technique, such as Biocouture. This material, when dried out, looks like a clear, pale brown leather with a flexible plastic texture. How do you make mushroom bricks? The mushroom brick is "grown" by mixing together chopped-up corn husks with mycelium. The mixture is then put into a brick mould and left to grow for five days. The result is a brick that is solid, but lightweight. The 'mushroom tower' is then assembled using a custom algorithm to lay the bricks layer by layer. We have our own experience in this field: a couple of years ago we collaborated on an attempt to make a material out of mushrooms. We grew our material from the vegetable waste from a tuber-derived cellulose powder product made by a company in Scotland. We wanted to create a location-specific fungal material, differing from the other current projects mentioned. Our initial samples looked and had the texture and appearance of furry burnt crisps: it was clear we weren’t going to grow jeans or undermine the denim industry in the short space of time we had. But this objective and passion for the possibilities of mycelium in this context has stayed with us, and we are not the only ones. The benefits of growing a textile-like material from fungi or bacteria as opposed to cotton, man-made fabrics or worse still, blends such as ‘poly-cotton’ are many. Fungi are naturally abundant in nature, quick to grow (on a range of waste materials) and their growth uses a lot less water than traditional textile manufacture. In theory, a fungal product is also completely biodegradable, can be strong, can be colourful, water repellent, can be edible, and can have medicinal properties. And the list goes on. Bio 'Bomber Jack' made from mushrooms As a way to disrupt the fashion system as a whole, fungi or bacteria based textile alternatives might still be some way off. But while the over consumption and toxic wastefulness of the fashion and traditional textile industry continues, design in this area can also be seen as an act of environmental protest. One of the greatest challenges faced by the textiles and fashion industry is to make itself more sustainable, not just in terms of economic and labour force issues but in the face of ecological necessity. The production of textiles involves a long chain of complex processes to convert raw materials such as fibres or petroleum into finished fabrics or fashion products. These processes are typically resource intensive, requiring high concentrations of chemicals, large amounts of water and involving high temperatures and long processing times. This commonly results in high energy consumption and waste. Recommended:  Sustainable Fabric By IKEA and NIKE Textile Without Pollution A transition towards a more sustainable textiles and fashion sector requires approaches that can minimise its environmental and social impacts, therefore opting for cleaner manufacturing processes which can dramatically reduce carbon emissions and water use and eliminate the use of harmful chemicals. Here are five ways nature is being explored by individuals, research teams and industry to help make fashion more sustainable. Scientists are uncovering and exploiting underlying mechanisms and models found in nature to design new materials, processes and products as well as systems of production for the future. These range from traditional to contemporary processes that use low or high-tech methods, practised by artists in their studios to scientists in labs or artists and scientists working together collaboratively. Design Tools: Enzymes Enzymes are highly specific biocatalysts found within the cells of all living organisms. They offer the possibility of manufacturing textiles using simpler and less severe processing conditions which can reduce the consumption of chemicals, energy and water and the generation of waste. As a result, enzymes have successfully replaced a range of industrial textile processes, since they started being used in the early part of the 20th century. Cellulases and another group of enzymes called laccases are used in the production of stonewashed denim fabrics and garments. Stonewashed effects on indigo dyed cotton denim used to be created by pumice stones – but the use of pumice stones caused damage to both fibres and machines. Working with colleagues from De Montfort University, I have been investigating the possibilities of using laccase and protease as creative design tools to make industrial textile processes more sustainable. In our research we used enzymes to synthesise textile dyes and pattern fabrics using ambient processing conditions, such as temperatures as low as 50°C at atmospheric pressure. We now have ways to create many different colours with just a slight alteration of processing conditions, reacting enzymes and compounds together in various different conditions in a technique that eliminates the need to use pre-manufactured dyes. Leather: Zoa From collagen: The area of synthetic biology is growing at a rapid rate, and as a result many companies such as New York-based Modern Meadow are exploring the possibilities this area of modern science offers. The company has successfully bio-fabricated a leather alternative called Zoa. The advanced material is constructed from collagen (a protein) – the main component of natural leather – but Zoa is designed and grown in a lab from animal-free collagen derived from yeast. The material is capable of replicating the qualities of leather and offers new design aesthetics and performance properties not previously possible – while also eliminating the high environmental impact of raising cows and tanning their hides (which is often a toxic process). From fungi: Similarly, San Francisco-based MycoWorks – among others – has been exploring the possibilities of creating sustainable materials using fungi. Mycelium, (a mushroom root material) which is grown from fungi and agricultural by-products is custom engineered in a lab using a carbon negative process. It is easy to cultivate, fast growing and can be easily manipulated to adopt the properties similar to leather and many other mainstream materials such as wood and polystyrene. Sustainable Fashion: Roots, Inspidere Grass roots: An interesting project by the artist Diana Scherer called Interwoven explores the fabrication of materials using living plant networks which could be used to construct garments of the future. She has developed a process which manipulates oat and wheat plant roots to grow intricate lace-like textile materials. {youtube}                                            Sustainable Fashion: Fungi, Roots From MycoWorks, Inspidere                                                              The future of fashion: Diana Scherer She buries templates in the soil that act as moulds, which manipulates and channels the plants root systems to reveal woven structures constructed from geometrics and delicate motifs once the fabric is excavated. Cow manure: In a circular economy model, nothing is considered waste. In the Netherlands, a company called Inspidere has developed a method it has called Mestic that uses cow manure to produce new textiles. The processing method enables cellulose to be extracted from manure to produce two materials, viscose and cellulose acetate. The manure is separated and processed in a lab to extract pure cellulose, which is further processed to create viscose (regenerated cellulose) and cellulose acetate (bio-plastic), both of which can be turned into textiles. The group have achieved lab-scale success, the challenge remains to scale this process up commercially. These are just a few of the ways in which nature is being harnessed to provide the textile and fashion industry with realistic and viable options to move towards sustainability. Before you go! Recommended:  Israeli 3D Printed Fashion As Sustainable Works Of Art Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your own article about sustainability? Click on  'Register'  or push the button 'Write An Article' on the  'HomePage'
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