Biodegradable Fabric – How Science Solves Fashion’s Waste Problem

Oliver More

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Biodegradable Fabric – Time to let science solves fashion’s biggest problem.

You might not realise, but plastic, a petroleum-based product, is the most used material in the fashion industry right now. In fashion, plastics are turned into many types of fabrics such as organza, nylon, lycra, sequins, even ‘vegan leather’ and vegan fur.

Biodegradable Fabric


PVC’s and plastic-based fabrics are polluting and unsustainable, with a profound negative impact on animal welfare and the environment. Plastic fabrics are synthetic polymers that emit persistent, toxic, and bioaccumulative chemicals, known to disrupt hormone balance and cause cancer.

Moreover, plastic fabrics can stay in the environment for hundreds of years, clogging up ecosystems such as oceans, rivers and soils with chemical pollution.

Until now. Rachel Clowes, a London-based embroidery and print designer, has created a new type of sequin that biodegrades at the end of its fashion lifetime.
Called ‘bio-sequins’, Rachel’s biodegradable fabric creations are designed to sparkle for a few wears and then safely biodegrade.

“Plastic sequins shimmer for a few hours on the dancefloor, only to end up in a landfill, lying there for centuries if not more,” says Clowes.

Dissolve in Boiling Water

Biodegradable Fabrics

Clowes’s quest to create a biodegradable fabric that could solve fashion’s waste and pollution problem materialised into organic bio-sequins that dissolve in boiling water.

Similar Read: Innovative Materials Used In The Fashion Industry

The bright, shiny bio-sequins are made from water, fruit glycerine, starch, and natural dye and have the rigidity and flexibility of conventional plastic.

Once dissolved, the biodegradable fabric sequins turn into a solution that can be composted. Moreover, the solution feeds plants and crops by returning the nutrients found in the natural dye and fruit glycerine back to the environment.

Clowes next advent is a biodegradable fabric sequin made from PLA (polylactic acid), a biodegradable polymer made from plants and bread waste, often used in biodegradable packaging.

Without Impacting Style

Sustainable sequins fashion

The biodegradable fabric sequin could last a lifetime in the wardrobe but breaks down with ease when exposed to a microbial environment such as compost-rich soil.

With the understanding that throwaway fashion will never go away, Rachel’s invention of an environmentally friendly and biodegradable fabric could finally put an end to fashion waste and pollution without affecting the aesthetics.

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  1. Galena32

    5 September 2020

    Ok, so science has solutions to waste, material depletion, environmental disaster, etc. Question is, what does the end consumer say about these solutions? Do they care?