Your clothes could soon be made of cow poop, seriously
A Dutch designer has created a line of clothing made partially from cow poop. Yes, it’s real.
Jalila Essaïdi was asked by government officials to help reduce animals waste in the Netherlands, where she is a designer and entrepreneur. The excess of animal excrement in the country has caused polluted waterways which produces large algae blooms and fish kills. They are pretty much desperate for a solution to get the amount of poop that can’t be absorbed by the earth out.
Essaïdi came up with a unique technology that removes cellulose and acids from the cow poop and turns them into a biodegradable plastic material. This material has been named Mestic, after mest, which is the Dutch word for manure. Basically, the materials perform in a similar way to plastic derived from fossil fuels, but they are totally biodegradable and much cheaper to make.
The cellulose that is extracted in a lab comes from the grass the cows consume, so it does matter if the cows are industrially fed or grass fed. The acids extracted from the dung can also be turned into cellulose acetate, which is a natural liquid plastic. These materials can then be turned into textiles, but clothing isn’t the only thing Essaïdi is focusing on.
She hopes to be able to create larger scale items using this technology such as tables, flooring, furniture and even a bridge in her home city of Eindhoven. The future of this technology replacing other unsustainable ways to produce goods is really promising.
The cow’s digestive system actually breaks down the cellulose, which cuts out an extra step in the development process. Without having to do this, a ton of energy, time and money is saved. Experts also say that the end product is completely safe, but there are worries about how the public will receive clothing made out of…poo.
Ideally, companies should aim to be pretty transparent when they claim their product is sustainable. But will consumers jump on this product if they are aware cow manure is used to make it? If consumers are truly informed, they will understand that the end product really isn’t much different than any other similar object, the means to make it were simply a bit different.
It’s similar to the production of silk. Silk is actually excrement from worms, but people don’t really care because the end product is so luxurious. Hopefully this new development will produce the same attitudes.