Fermented Clothes: A New Frontier?

fermented clothesTED fellow Suzanne Lee is writing a book called Fashioning the Future and in the process, investigating how bacteria can be the next generation’s clothes manufacturers, through the same process that gives us beer: fermentation.  In an interview for TED’s blog, she explains that like Maya, whom we featured earlier on LLV, Lee wants to improve upon the current toxicity and environmental degradation that is associated with producing textiles. Lee has turned to fermentation as a source of fiber production.

So, if bacteria are producing clothes, you need to feed them, right? Right. Lee is exploring feeding bacteria with what they thrive on: sugar. Now, this sounds a little shaky and short-sighted at first, a bit like using corn for biofuels, which raises corn prices and disadvantages the poor when it comes to using corn for food.  However, Lee is looking at agricultural waste materials that are sugar-rich to avoid spiking the price of sugar for her fermented clothes. Reduce impacts on the environment and close the loop? We approve!

Lee is interested in creating products that are highly functional. However, fermented shoes and accessories aren’t about to appear in your stores just yet, because much more work is needed to make such products competitive and fashionable.

Image credit: mconnors via MorgueFile

Marilyn Cornelius
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Marilyn Cornelius

(r)evolutionary at Alchemus Prime
Marilyn is co-editor of and contributor to Life, Love, V. Her full time work is at Alchemus Prime where she integrates behavioral sciences, design thinking, biomimicry and meditation through a science-based model to develop solutions that address climate change and wellness issues. Marilyn works with a diverse range of professionals in nonprofits, universities, schools, companies, and interdisciplinary conferences to help them build resilient teams, manage change, communicate more effectively, and implement research, programs and projects for sustained positive impact. Learn more about Marilyn.
Marilyn Cornelius
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