‘Wellness fabrics’: your daily dose in your clothes

Clothes made from nutritious food waste that benefit your body and the environment – it sounds futuristic, but it’s happening now.

Food waste and fashion have teamed up. Big piles of fruit waste, especially the waste of citrus fruits, grapes, pineapples and bananas are being looked at with much interest as new technology is making it possible to create fabric out of it (SEE OUR ARTICLE SUSTAINABLE FABRICS: DO BANANAS MAKE GOOD T-SHIRTS). This is not only reducing waste going into landfill, but, importantly, innovators have discovered that fabrics spun from the skins of fruits like grapes, lemons and oranges retain the fruit’s nutrients and vitamins in the fabric, creating alternative, healthy materials. The pulp left over from your breakfast’s orange juice can make clothes that have a lower carbon footprint and are often biodegradable, but also contain nutrients that are directly absorbed by your skin.

The concept of ‘wellness fabrics’ is revolutionary for the world of fashion. Two young scientists from Italy are pioneering ways to do something useful with the mountains of orange pulp in Southern Italy, where 700,000 tons of waste is produced every year after oranges are squeezed to make juice. Adriana Santanocito and Enrica Arena were still students when they decided that this was unacceptable and founded the Sicilian brand Orange Fiber in 2014.Their vision was to use these citrusy remains to create luxury, high-quality textiles. No one could doubt that they had achieved this after luxury fashion brand Salvatore Ferragamo launched a capsule collection with Orange Fiber in 2017. The ingenious twist is the natural citrus oil within the material, which is released onto the skin and nourishes you with vitamins.

Orange Fiber is only one of a growing number of companies who are coming up with new, healthy fabrics. Another food group being adopted by the industry is milk. Milk is naturally saturated with lots of minerals, vitamins and protein, and you are able to reap its benefits via QMilk. The brand recycles undrinkable German milk to create a sustainable material that is good for the skin. It can help with anti-ageing, regulating body temperature and aids blood circulation.

Brown algae, commonly known as Knotted Wrack, is a family of seaweed that is naturally sourced from the abundant amounts of it growing in Icelandic Fjords (similar to valleys except for being filled with sea water) and is spun into clothing by the casualwear brand Pangaia. It is claimed that wearing one of their hoodies or track pants can reduce stress, hydrate and detoxify the skin.

From a sustainability point of view, the wellness fabrics are the bees’ knees. Man-made (synthetic) fibres and non-organic cotton In comparison require much more land, water and fertilizers, and release larger amounts of environmental pollution. Fashion production makes up 10% of total global carbon emissions – as much as the emissions of the European Union as a whole – and a huge 85% of all textiles are thrown away every year.

It is therefore truly exciting that these young entrepreneurs have decided to take the initiative in fashion sustainability and to combine this with wellness. Who wouldn’t like to be able to get part of your daily dose of vitamin C and B and reduce your stress levels without doing anything, just by wearing a cool hoodie made from a wellness-material.

Hopefully, bigger names in the industry will soon be inspired to have a long, hard look at fruit too. With its full circularity and very low carbon footprint our ‘healthy’ clothes may start giving us – and the planet – some TLC.

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