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Design, Biology and Technology to reduce the Environmental Impact

By Evangelina Sosa


In recent years, textile innovation has presented incredible results related to the production of garments and accessories created from microorganisms.

Scientists and designers are working together to develop the first biomaterials based on natural processes such as the fermentation of yeast, fungi, and other microorganisms. The use of these new textiles is varied, ranging from clothing, decorative objects, footwear, and wrappings. There are different success stories, and one of them is Argentine.




In Argentina, the first prototypes of Bioleather garments were launched in 2020. These garments are produced in the country through a natural process of microorganisms that are cultivated in yerba mate along with other nutrients. The result is a lighter garment very similar to leather. The materials that are created from these techniques are biodegradable, this means that they are compostable and therefore are part of a circular process.



Main Challenges


While designers and scientists are working together to create new garments, there are technical and commercial challenges to overcome. Among them are the resistance of materials to water and scaling up artisan production to a mass-market format. These points are key to developing the business model, but we must also consider that as innovation and developments advance, communication and outreach play a very important role. There are new opportunities for entrepreneurship within the sustainable market, but it is also necessary that it be accompanied by conscious financing to develop the business.


Synergy between Disciplines


The development of textile innovation advances hand in hand with biology, technology, and designers with a sustainable conscience. These multidisciplinary teams seek to create products that reduce environmental impact.


American designer Suzanne Lee is known for being the pioneer in experimenting with these textures and assures that the objective of these developments is to combine the best of natural products with the best of existing synthetic products. In Argentina, Verónica Bergotin, Ph.D. in Biology, responsible for the first accessories in Bioleather, is currently experimenting with industrial waste rich in sugar and other brewery industry waste, to identify which of them is more suitable for scaling up production.

Undoubtedly, the creation of these materials generates a new paradigm within the textile industry and is part of the transition from the linear to the circular economy.



Sources:


Biomateriales: joven argentina creó una tela parecida al “cuero” con microorganismos y yerba mate” Available at: https://news.agrofy.com.ar/noticia/193086/biomateriales-joven-argentina-creo-tela-parecida-cuero-microorganismos-y-yerba-mate [Retrieved March 24th, 2022]



Biotextiles: el cultivo de organismos vivos para fabricar telas” Available at: https://www.lanacion.com.ar/moda-y-belleza/biotextiles-el-cultivo-de-organismos-vivos-para-fabricar-telas-nid2111290/ [Retrieved March 24th, 2022]


Image “Karu Diseño Conciente” of Verónica Bergottini. Available at: https://www.instagram.com/somoskaru/?hl=es [Retrieved March 24th, 2022]



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