Many people don’t even realize the negative impact the fashion and textile industries have on the environment.
Petroleum-based plastic fibers from clothing make up the bulk of our landfills. Not only that, but unnatural materials also pollute our waterways and cause about 5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Charlotte McCurdy wants to change all of that!
Charlotte is both a scientist and a fashion designer. The Yale graduate has been working with algae as a textile replacement since she was a student. That’s when she developed a prototype for a garment made entirely out of algae, the first step toward her ultimate goal of making the entire fashion world carbon-negative.
According to her website, “Charlotte McCurdy is an interdisciplinary designer and researcher whose work focuses on making existential threats, such as climate change, more tractable through design. Her goal: counteract the narrative of climate change as a problem without a solution.”
Her first prototype was a raincoat made from a transparent bioplastic constructed entirely out of biopolymer in red marine macroalgae, a type of seaweed. Since the biopolymer is all-natural and abundant, Charlotte hopes to use this technology to produce everything from raincoats to ball gowns.
In fact, she has already helped fashion designer Phillip Lim adorn a couture dress with “algae sequins” to “avoid reaching for polyester.”
The innovator’s goal is to eliminate the harmful footprints of traditional clothing manufacturing and replace them with technology that actually helps the planet. She chose a raincoat as her first prototype to demonstrate how her algae-based clothing can protect us from climate change.
Charlotte is already taking her invention to the next level, working with other scientists to make more fibers, dyes, and yarns using these naturally-occurring organisms. Great minds like hers will help the world overcome barriers and achieve a healthier future for all!
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