With silk and leather being two of the most polluting materials to create when analysing their cradle-to-gate impact, one company is making it their mission to create sustainable, animal-free alternatives.
Whilst materials like leather and fur are obviously not vegan-friendly, many people forget that materials such as silk are also off-limits thanks to the fact that roughly 6.6 thousand silkworms die to produce a single kilogram of silk.
In order the harvest silk, silkworms are boiled alive in their cocoons and investigations have found that in Indian male silkworms are often kept in a refrigerator only to be brought out to breed before being discarded when they are no longer able to perform.
One company has come up with an innovative solution that is not only cruelty-free, but also more sustainable than silk which has recently been found to be the second most polluting material after leather in the Pulse of Fashion Industry Report.
California-based Bolt Threads have created a manmade material that mimics spider silk and can be sustainably produced on a large scale called MicroSilk®, but also has the high-tensile strength, elasticity, durability, and softness you’d expect of silk.
The firm develops fibres from scratch based on proteins found in nature such as yeast, as well as clean, closed-loop manufacturing processes. The brand develops proteins through bioengineering by adding genes to yeast, which is then fermented with sugar and water before extracting the liquid silk proteins.
Vegetarian fashion designer Stella McCartney has already partnered with the start-up to showcase the ethical silk material to the fashion world “in her mission to reduce the fashion industry’s detrimental impact on the environment,” according to The Trend Spotter.
Last year, McCartney created a prototype dress using the silk material which was showcased in the exhibition “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
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Not only are Bolt Threads concentrating on creating a luxurious alternative to silk, they’re also on a mission to replace leather with a plant-based alternative made from mushrooms.
The material, called Mylo™, uses mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms, to make a commercially available leather-like material.
Bolt Threads has recently teamed up with Ecovative, a biomaterials company in New York that creates eco packaging for IKEA, to help with the process of scaling-up production of the material to make it available for use in consumer goodes by 2019.