The concept of climate positivity goes a step further than reducing emissions to actually creating a beneficial contribution to the environment by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The fashion industry contributes up to 10% of all global carbon emissions therefore designers are under increasing pressure to help the environment. Using alternative fabrics to create carbon-negative clothing is a great way to make your clothing line more sustainable.
There are many companies that are developing new and innovative ways to become climate positive. Newlight technologies are a Californian-based biotechnology company who have developed a carbon-negative material named AirCarbon, made from ocean microorganisms. Through the recreation of ocean conditions on land using air, saltwater, carbon and renewable power, the microorganisms are able to use air and carbon from greenhouse gas to grow an ocean-degradable and carbon negative material inside their cells known as AirCarbon. This material can be used in place of petro-based polymers in the creation of plastic and leather alternatives. Covalent is a fashion brand that uses AirCarbon to create carbon-negative products such as wallets, eyewear and handbags.
Another emerging process in the fashion industry is the process whereby designers use Algae in clothes that can take carbon out of the atmosphere, through the process of photosynthesis. Charlotte McCurdy, a New York designer uses algae to create a bio plastic Mac. This piece of clothing is carbon-negative as the fabric can remove carbon from the atmosphere. AlgaLife is a brand that is currently developing eco-friendly dyes and fibres from microalgae. Algalife has plans to use its fibres in second-skin clothing including underwear and activewear.
Designers are becoming actively involved in regenerative sustainability through the production of clothes that reduce your carbon footprint whilst you are wearing them. Post Carbon Lab are a London-based biotech start-up that are creating climate-positive products by designing clothes that synthesise. This brand has developed a coating that contains a layer of living algae on the material that absorbs carbon dioxide and emits oxygen. This has the potential to be used to make a range of accessories including shoes, bags, curtains, pillowcases and umbrellas. However, there are some conditions that must be met to keep the textile healthy. Firstly, the algae need a moderate amount of light. The clothing should also be kept in a well-ventilated area. The fabric should not be kept in an enclosed dark environment. For this reason it is not suitable to store the clothing in a wardrobe. The garment also requires moisture. This may mean hanging the piece of clothing in the bathroom after a shower. It is important to follow the care instructions, as the fabric must be hand-washed as washing machines can harm the algae.
Although there is a long way to go towards bettering fashion sustainability, the developing technologies within the fashion industry that are permitting the creation of carbon-negative materials is an imperative step in the right direction. Climate positivity requires us to understand that we already have the solutions to pollution in our environment. It is not enough to limit pollution; we need to harness new ways to actively take carbon from the atmosphere.