Cow poop fabric could be yucky answer to fashion’s sustainability problem

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In the Netherlands, a startup is looking to an unlikely source—cow poop—to create new, sustainable fabrics.

Jalilia Essaidi, founder of Mestic, says cellulose—which cotton contains in abundance and is ultimately processed into yarn for apparel—is also present in large quantities in cow manure. “Our solution turns an acute agricultural problem of waste into a sustainable source of raw material for the textile industry,” she tells TNW.

About 25 million tons of cotton are produced annually, requiring 2.5% of arable land globally as well as copious amounts of water. The World Wildlife Federation estimates 10,000 liters of water are required to make one outfit of jeans and a t-shirt. Pesticides from cotton crops also end up in waterways.

Essaidi estimates that global manure output could provide ten times the cellulose required by the fashion industry globally.