Nature and Biodiversity

Your next pair of shoes could be made from seaweed

A handful of seaweed is displayed as masses of green seaweed, which at times emits noxious gasses, is seen on Kerlaz beach near Douarnenez in Brittany, western France, August 30, 2011.  REUTERS/Mal Langsdon  (FRANCE - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY TRAVEL DISASTER)

A startup has created a biodegradable yarn, reducing landfill waste from traditional fabrics. Image: REUTERS/Mal Langsdon

Aimee Lutkin
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A start up called Algiknit is experimenting with creating textiles made from sustainable materials. Their co-founder, fashion design graduate Aleksandra Gosiewski, told Creative Bloq that fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Alginit's goal is to limit the waste created by textile production.

The company is taking kelp and turning it into "bioyarn" that can be woven together to make products. Use of the biodegradable yard could potentially reduce microplastic pollution and reduce landfill waste made from fabrics that don't easily degrade, like polyester.

The Alginknit has already been used to make a shoe, called AlgiKicks. What's amazing about the material is that it is still durable—it won't degrade on your foot. The textile can be easily broken down by microorganisms when you're done with it, but not before.

AlgiKnit's seaweed shoe, AlgiKicks. Image: Aaron Nesser- AlgiKicks

“When it’s worn out, or you don’t want it, it can be broken down by microorganisms and the nutrients reclaimed to feed the next generation of product,” says Gosiewski. “I envision a future where the materials we use can be transformed to feed the next generation of products."

And the makers have been experimenting with natural dies to color the product, in an effort to make every aspect of its production sustainable.

“If clothing is going to continue to be disposable, why not make it disposable in a way that makes sense – that actually benefits the earth? In way that has a positive impact instead of a negative impact? It takes longer to create a mind shift, so why not first create an alternative that already fits into the same mindset?” she says. “This is a first step to something else.”

Gosiewski got into that mindset when her team won an art and design competition called Biodesign Challenge for their work on Algknit. She hopes they'll soon be winning over bigger companies who can use the material. Or even just passionate knitters.

She also thinks people just need to stop comparing bioyarn and other more environmentally friendly material to synthetics. They're a completely different thing.

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"Really it’s its own category: it’s something different," says Gosiewski. "It has natural stretch and flexibility, and when you’re knitting you can really control the amount of material you use.”

The team wants to see what other people will do with the bioyarn and are excited about the possibilities when everyone puts their heads together to imagine a more sustainable world.

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