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Vollebak T-shirt from plants, algae biodegrades in 84 days

04 Sep '19
2 min read
Pic: Vollebak
Pic: Vollebak

Three-year-old tech-based clothing start-up vollebak has now created a T-shirt using just plants and algae. Made from pulped eucalyptus and beech from sustainably-managed forests and algae grown in bioreactors, the shirts will biodegrade in 12 weeks. Once in compost, turn into soil, and help new plants to grow. The T-shirt design is made entirely from algae.

The company was founded by twin brothers, designers and athletes Nick and Steve Tidball in the United States.

To turn the algae into a printable ink, vollebak used the technique used in Kenya to create algae cake. Instead of passing lake water through a cotton net, the design team passed water from the bioreactor through a filter. The process separated the algae, leaving a soupy algae paste. That paste was then dried in the sun to create a fine powder, which was mixed with a water-based binder to make algae ink, according to information on the company website.

Eucalyptus, beech, and spruce were chipped and pulped, before being turned into fibre, then yarn, and finally fabric. All the wood is harvested from sustainable forestry plantations and is certified by the programme for the endorsement of forest certification (PEFC)—the largest forest certification system in the world.

Algae cannot survive once removed from water, so the algae on the T-shirt is no longer alive, says Tidball. The natural pigment in algae is more sensitive and won’t behave like colour normally does on clothing. As soon as it comes in contact with air, it starts to oxidise, which means the green will begin to change colour and your T-shirt may look different from one week to the next as it fades, making every T-shirt unique.

The product will soon be on sale. (DS)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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