Everyday our dear planet is witnessing issues that harm it, climate change being one. The word “dispose” comes to mind. We buy, we use, we dispose… Its a never ending pattern; one that will keep threatening our environment, and one that will only end once our generation steps in!
Textiles are ending in landfills everyday, not feeding our earth, but intoxicating it! When looking at the design world specifically, leather is one of the most consumed types of fabrics with the highest level of destruction towards the environment and is a $500 billion market. What is the solution you may ask? A more environmentally friendly leather adopting similar properties. PVC and Synthetic leathers took the stand in the industry, creating this misconception that they are ethical. On the contrary, these leathers cannot biodegrade or be recycled so they do not solve the main disposal issue. When addressing potential solutions, Treekind by Biophilica is a catalyst in studying new leathers. Let’s dive into their practice, shall we?
Mira Nameth, founder of London-based bio-textile start-up Biophilica, which makes Treekind, a faux leather created from green waste gathered from London parks including Hyde Park and the garden at Fulham Palace. “Treekind can be made to scale,” says Nameth. “The beauty is that it’s ‘species agnostic’, so they can source the basic material from gardens, parks, forests, municipalities and the agriculture industry – they all work well, which makes it work locally [but also] on a global scale. Shipping adds significant greenhouse gas emissions to the footprint of materials and products. They can support localised supply chains and greatly reduce negative environmental impacts.
In an immersed study of science, design and nature, Biophilica has created a leather made from green waste. Imagine! the gifts of Mother Nature are truly meant to be used then back to feed her. This new leather requires less than 1% of water in its production process in comparison to authentic animal leather. Treekind is non- toxic, estimated carbon-negative, and contains ZERO plastic. Given that most animal leathers are chemically treated to be used and therefore non-recyclable, this new pioneering green leather innovation can in fact be recycled and returned to compost at disposal stages. Isn’t it so refreshing to see a leather that returns to Mother Nature when in disposal? This process of composting is fairly simple and can be done from home; no complications which is at the forefront of Biophilica’s brand identity. This way, customers are easily encouraged to adopt a circular way of living rather than a linear one.
To date, Biophilica has received funding from Innovate UK, the Government of the Netherlands (RVO), Queen Mary’s Social Venture Fund, Central Research Laboratory; they are members of the Sustainable Accelerator and Fashion for Good. They have also been recognised by several, including a feature in Trend Bible Home & Interiors Spring Summer 2022, a Creative Conscience Gold Award 2020, and The Guardian. Alongside, Treekind was a finalist in the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Award and in Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards 2021 for Sustainable Textile Innovation. They have also been nominated as a finalist in the Manufacturing Futures 2021: Fashion District Innovation Challenge Prize. Having all this recognition, truly sheds light on the brand’s main mission as one that is vital for shifting the future of fashion to a more circular and sustainable one.
It is definitely eye-opening to learn about such materials that help in maintaining a cleaner ecosystem, tackle issues such as climate change and pollution, and most importantly make sure that they go back to food for our earth! Remember, the plastic we produce today will be a problem for tomorrow!