ORGANIC COTTON: WHAT'S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?
You may be thinking hang on a minute organic cotton is still cotton and that uses a lot of resources so is it really worth the fuss. Absolutely.
Figures vary of course, but it uses anywhere between 75-88% less water, and around 62% less energy than conventional cotton production. Conventional cotton production uses around 2,700 litres - the equivalent of a person's drinking water for two and a half years - to make just one t-shirt. So on a big scale it makes a big difference. Big impact is the collective of individual action. If you're able to, go for organic cotton.
Organic cotton production is 80% rainfed. (whereas conventional cotton production typically uses aggressive irrigation). This greatly reduces pressure on local water sources which, when those local communities are facing the ever-growing threat and realities of water scarcity, is hugely important. Some studies project that by 2025 two thirds of the world's population will be facing water shortages. Another plus point about organic cotton production is that it doesn't use any toxic chemicals, which means any runoff doesn't pollute local water sources, nor does it damage the soil. When water is scarce and soil quality is poor; we're talking reduced harvest, nutrient deficient crops, and damaged ecosystems. The importance of steering away from the toxic chemicals used in conventional cotton production is enormous.
RECYCLED PET (PLASTIC BOTTLES): TELL ME MORE
Recycled PET can be turned into all sorts. Although it would of course be better to have no PET to recycle in the first place, whilst there's still a massive global industry for the production of plastic bottles, it's pretty cool that we can recycle and upcycle them into durable items whose lifespan looks more like a human lifespan, and less like the five minutes it takes to drink a bottle of fizzy pop. Where it does well on the environmental scoreboard is in reducing waste and saving raw materials. Recycled PET is by no means the solution to the enormous ecological stain left by the fashion industry, but it is one of the current solutions we have at our disposal for giving a second, much longer life to what would be waste products. Around 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year, and we're still at a point where the forecast increase in plastic waste exceeds efforts to mitigate plastic pollution. Without better waste management we're looking at some very gloomy figures for plastic pollution over the next few years, so let's amp up the recycling and bid farewell to single-use plastic, folks.
FABRIC OF THE FUTURE - (YOU GUESSED IT) FUNGI:
With our dreaming hats on we can see a nice, clear picture of Hyphal Atlas pieces made from lab-grown mycelium. Mycelium is one of Nature's finest architects. Not one to brag, this little-observed design visionary may have slipped under your radar. It is the fungal network from which mushrooms are formed, and creates vast underground webs of microscopic fibres which themselves transport vital nutrients and information, connecting a multitude of organisms that share the soil. Myco enthusiasts and scientists have been inspired by the complex properties and character of these fast-growing fibres. The Mycelium revolution is upon us. Already there are biotech start-ups and leading academic institutions making waves manufacturing mycelium materials, made from bio-engineered hyphae (hyphae - hyphal - hyphal atlas. nice one). They can be used in construction, packaging , clothing, mycoprotein foods, and even scaffolding for growing organs. This is just the beginning.