5 Innovative Sustainable Alternative Fashion Materials Made From Fruits
Fruit-based alternative materials are paving the way for more sustainable fashion, with brands choosing to source their materials from innovative companies that have laid the foundation for the next generation of conscious fashion.
While fruits may not be the first thing to come to mind when thinking about sustainability, they are an invariable part of our lives, as humans and animals alike, young and old, enjoy indulging in a banana for breakfast or an apple with lunch. Whether you choose to bite into an apple, peel and all, or juice your fruit, large amounts of waste are created during the cultivation, production, and distribution of the fruits we love. However, sustainably focused companies have innovatively turned fruit waste or by-products and ecologically accessible fruits into alternative materials, turning water into wine (or wine grapes into leather), while simultaneously working to reduce the environmental impact of traditional fashion materials.
Leap™ is an apple-based leather alternative created from upcycled apple waste from cider production. The production of Leap™ takes low-value pulp and turns it into high-value material to be used in a variety of ways through collaboration with brands. Made from 80% bio-based ingredients¹, the apple-based leather is a blend of 64% apple waste sourced from Danish juice and cider producers. According to the company, the production of Leap requires 99% less water and around 85% less CO22, aligning with the company’s mission to be sustainable by design.
2. Piñayarn® & Piñatex®
Piñatex® is made from pineapple leaf fibres, a waste product of pineapple harvesting. Pineapple leaf fibres are initially processed into a fluff-like fibre (PALF) which is mixed with a corn-based polylactic acid (PLA) to create Pinafelt, the non-woven mesh that is the basis for all Piñatex® collections. From the offset all the way through production to distribution, Piñatex® is inspired by the principles of the Circular Economy and Cradle-to-Cradle values ³. The leaves from Pineapple harvesting are a raw material that is low-impact, requiring no additional resources, while still providing the opportunity to develop farming communities through a sustainability-focused industry.
Piñayarn®, like Piñatex®, is made from pineapple leaf fibres, a waste product of pineapple harvesting. It is a 100% plant-based, recyclable, biodegradable alternative to petroleum-based textiles and resource-consuming virgin materials. This pineapple-based yarn is customizable for woven or jersey fabrics but is versatile enough for various products in the textile industry, including footwear, apparel, and accessory markets 4.
Bananatex® is made from the Abacá banana plants in the Philippine highlands and is naturally self-sufficient, requiring no pesticides, fertilizer, or extra water. Contributing to the reforestation of areas once eroded by mono-cultural palm plantations by being grown in a natural ecosystem of sustainable mixed agriculture and forestry, Bananatex®works to enhance biodiversity, while improving economic conditions for local farmers. This fabric, made from the waste of banana plants, was awarded Cradle-to-Cradle Certified® Gold in 2021⁵.
The strong and durable Bananatex® fabric is initially created by turning the Abacá banana plants into yarn, which is then dyed during the yard process rather than during a roll dying process to create the black color. The white Bananatex® fabric is the natural result of the banana fibres, making it free from any dying process. Applying natural waxes creates a waterproof material suitable for various uses such as fashion and lifestyle products.
4. Orange Fibre
Beginning in Sicily, Italy, Orange Fibre created a sustainable fibre made from nearly 700,000 tons of citrus juice production by-product by extracting cellulose to be woven into fabric at the final stage. This fabric is produced to create a more sustainable luxury fashion industry aimed at conscious designers. Orange Fibre goes a step further to provide a transparent and traceable supply chain with citrus by-products coming from the main citrus juice-producing countries around the world .
Orange Fibre has partnered with the Lenzing group to create TENCEL™, a lyocell fibre (a type of cellulosic fibre) made from orange pulp and wood sources to be used in the fashion and textile industries as an innovative, sustainable alternative 7. While Orange Fibre’s main sector is luxury fashion, its past partnerships with brands such as H&M showcase the sustainable textile’s applicability 8 in the commercial fashion industry.
5. Grape Leather
Grape leather by VEGEA is a sustainable leather alternative made from grape waste produced during wine production, mainly in Italy. The production process utilizes renewable resources such as vegetable and recycled raw materials, along with bio-based polymers to create a low-impact conscious textile material that is free from toxic solvents, heavy metals, and substances harmful to humans and the environment 9. Grape leather is already making waves in the fashion industry as a versatile material for use in garments, shoes, bags, wallets, belts and other accessories that is Global Recycled Certified (GRC) and meets the European regulations (REACH)10.
These are only a few examples of the innovative alternative materials created from fruit production waste that give back to the environment while building a more sustainable fashion industry. The alternative materials from the brands mentioned above are geared towards fashion brands and designers; however, hopefully, they can provide some insight for conscious consumers into the multitude of sustainable material options available that they may not have been otherwise aware of.
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