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Sustainable Fashion Innovator Makes Fiber From Pineapple Leaves
In 1960, 97 percent of the fibers used in clothing came from natural materials. Today that number has fallen to 35 percent. But sustainable fashion veteran Isaac Nichelson wants to reverse that trend.
"We want to enable food crops to become our primary fibers," Nichelson told Fast Company.
That technology, the Agraloop™ Bio-Refinery, uses pineapple leaves, sugarcane bark and banana, hemp and flax stalks to make a textile-grade fiber. The technology recycles problems into solutions. 270 million tons of banana waste is left to rot each year, contributing to methane pollution and crop disease. But burning crops causes more than 10 percent of global annual air pollution deaths, according to the product's website. Instead, Nichelson wants people to wear that waste instead; just the five crops currently used in the Agraloop could produce 250 million tons of fiber a year, enough to exceed global demand 2.5 times.
"[It's a] regenerative system that uses plant-based chemistry and plant-based energy to upgrade the fibres whilst enriching the local communities and creating a new economic system," Nichelson said in a press release. The Agraloop systems are intended for farmers and producers to own so that they can dispose of their own waste and use it to augment their own revenue, according to Fast Company.
In April, Circular Solutions won the 2018 Global Change Award from the H&M Foundation, which comes with a $350,000 grant Nichelson said he would use to scale up production of the Agraloop.
The Agraloop isn't the only sustainable technology that Circular Solutions has developed. Texloop targets the problem of textile waste—almost 85 percent of used clothing gets sent to landfills—by upcycling it into new fabrics. Orbital™ Hybrid Yarns are high-quality yarns made from recycled food and textile fibers.
Nichelson, who is developing partnerships with H&M and Levis to use his fibers, told Fast Company that the fashion industry was increasingly interested in sustainability, largely for economic reasons. This year's McKinsey and Company and Business of Fashion annual survey said the industry would see losses of three to four percent unless it could increase efficiency and reduce waste.
"Right now, it's so extractive and so destructive, and we're looking at these resources becoming more and more finite as the population grows," Nichelson said.
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By Tracy L. Barnett
Sources reviewed this article for accuracy.
For Sicangu Lakota water protector Cheryl Angel, Standing Rock helped her define what she stands against: an economy rooted in extraction of resources and exploitation of people and planet. It wasn't until she'd had some distance that the vision of what she stands for came into focus.
Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.