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The living fabrics that can help clean the air

Mushroom, pineapple and algae: it sounds like the topping for a rather unusual pizza. In fact, they could be the crucial ingredients in the wardrobe of the future as growing numbers of designers try to create fashion that doesn’t harm the environment.

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Examine a garment’s care label and you may find that it was made out of pineapple stalks or cactus leaves, or a tote bag was woven with thread made from banana trees. From mushroom leather to algae T-shirts, the search is on for alternative materials with smaller carbon footprints. And the latest result are carbon-negative clothes made with algae that absorb carbon dioxide from the air.

“Fashion is part of the problem but it’s also part of the solution,” said Nina Marenzi, founder and director of the Sustainable Angle, a not-for-profit organisation which promotes green textiles at its annual Future Fabric Expo. “We begin with materials and making them sustainable, and if fashion supply chains can change, then we start to address that.”

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Words by James Tapper