“This is an old thing,” says Galina Mihaleva, a visiting professor at Arizona State University tells Cronkite News. “Two thousand to 3,000 years ago, the Chinese were doing (this) without knowing they were making biotextiles.” Currently, she is working to make the fabric more water-resistant.
The process could help improve the sustainability profile of the clothing industry, which in recent years has become a major polluter thanks to the rise of fast fashion.
“We’re all consumers of disposable fashion,” said Angela Johnson, a local designer and co-owner of the Fashion and Business Resource Innovation Center – or FABRIC – an incubator in Tempe, Arizona. “We’re trained to think, ‘Oh this is a $20 shirt; well, it will be gone in three months, anyway.’ But then where does that go?”