We all know the saying "it's all in the details," but we often glaze over the fine print and miss the finishing touches that actually make or break a pair of jeans. You've heard me credit Mother Nature for being the creative genius she is, and we've finally discovered how to mimic her processes to create new technology. From mushroom leather to coatings made from spider silk, let's explore some of the possibilities in denim. I was very excited to speak to David Breslauer of Bolt Threads back in June, and I was particularly interested in Mylo as a replacement for the classic back leather patch. Mylo is Bolt Threads sustainable alternative to leather made from lab grown mycelium (the roots of fungi 🍄) that can take on any color, emboss, or texture.
The mycelium used to make Mylo is grown from mulch, air, and water in just a few short weeks, versus the years it takes to raise cattle. As a result, significantly less water and land is used, and fewer greenhouse gases are emitted compared to raising livestock 🐄
One funny - but not so funny - fact I always think about is how cows burp and fart between 160 to 320 litres of methane a day! So finding creative approaches to deal with this is always welcome :) and after 10 years, AirCarbon has found a way to turn these bovine belches into a new plastic source!!!
By some sense of wizardry, AirCarbon captures carbon emissions, which then run through their patented reactor and convert into liquid. Next, the carbon is isolated and turned into a long chain of polymers that are chemically similar to petroleum-based plastics. Grinding the chain into small plastic pellets, they sell them to manufacturers to be molded into whatever they want or need - sewing thread perhaps?
“While other plastics emit carbon into the air via manufacturing, AirCarbon reverses that flow and sequesters carbon,” says Co-founder Mark Herrema.
In theory, this plastic can be melted and recycled as many times as petroleum based plastics, and there is an opportunity to recycle anaerobically, creating greenhouse gas, then using that gas to make new C2C certified AirCarbon. But do we really need another plastic alternative when we don't have the recycling capabilities? (Very curious to know your thoughts, so please share in the comments!)
We do however, need many alternatives to the petro-chemicals out there used in our jeans. There are currently 80k+ chemicals derived from fossil fuels and on average, 27% of "100% natural fibers" have undisclosed chemicals in them. But Evolved by Nature has created 27 chemicals from molecules harvested from silk cocoons with hundreds more on the horizon. From quick drying to water resistant fabrics, silk protein is liquified in a salt solution to get your Activated Silk applications. Pretty neat stuff.
This article in Sourcing Journal on sustainable trims is what pushed me to think about the different possibilities for denim, because as consumers, we really do miss the unique details that differentiate one sustainable brand from the next. Take Kings Of Indigo, for example, who is getting creative by using recycled hospital metal for their buttons. There is so much value that can be added to a jean. And the added value these finishing touches bring could very well establish one brand from being the talk of the town from another who is cancelled. Because the truth is always in the details friends!
Until next time 👋, always be curious and STAY DILIGENT!