Textifood : textile and food : the comeback of a thousand-year-old alliance towards more sustainability?

What are the links between food and textile sectors? My pullover and my morning cereal, my new pants and Sicilian orange peels? What are the conections with food waste, circular economy and more widely, sustainability?


Vestito fatto a partire da fibre di foglie di banana

Banana silk

I found many interesting answers to those questions the occasion of my passage to Milan at the beginning of June within the framework of the exhibition Textifood, which is held at the French institute in Milan until July 14th (one the nice exposition of the Expo 2015 Off).

I Thanks again all the people working on this exhibition, in particular Estelle, for their nice welcoming.


From the rediscovery of traditional use of natural fibers…

Since the down of times, men used local natural resources for dressing themselves extracting from vegetal fibers (from the stem, leaves or fruits) or using animal fibers (silkworms, wool).

The exhibition recalls us concretely – thru wonderful artisanal, engineer or artistic creation coming from all around the world –how this kind of fabric, directly linked to food and agriculture sector, are reflecting the own richness of each territories: from the use of pineapple leaf woven by hand in Philippine, to the silk of the bananas trees and the famous linen which oil and seeds are eaten, and fibers extracted.

The virtues of some of these fibers are now rediscovered and used by the textile industry: the nettle for its antiseptic and insulating properties, flax composites for baskets that hold heat etc.

To the used of food resources in synthetic fibers

Layette de lil de lin et seacel : fibre de pulpe bois enrichie de poudres d'algues

bnaby clothes made with linen and seacell, wood pulp dissolved enriched with ground seaweed that promotes blood circulation and cell regeneration.

Did you know that is was possible to produce fabric from orange peels, coffee grounds, milk or seaweed. We’re here dealing with “synthetic fiber” that are “obtained through the chemical treatment of natural material ».

This kind of textiles are more and more used to give new properties: coffee grounds against smells and UV; eucalyptus for its thermal properties; milk protein antibacterial.

Two issues are particularly linked to sustainable development: 1) the fact that those textiles are entirely biodegradable 2) the fact that many of those textiles are issues from products that would have been otherwise thrown away: oranges waste issued from Sicilian agroindustry amount to about 700 000 tons by years (project http://www.orangefiber.it/ ), milk that is normally thrown away,  coffee ground (www.scafefabrics.com).

These projects tend to a more circular economy where every resource are used, and the less possible thrown away, where a link is created between sectors.

It is however important to not justify food waste by the fact it can be reused to create fiber, and to not privilege one sector over the other, for instance, as it was for biofuel, using agricultural resources, by using food resource to make clothes.

The exhibition is really beautiful, makes think and question yourself of what you wear, eat and the capacity of imagination and innovation of humankind and nature put together.

Go before it ends, the 14 of July.

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