Pineapples and Bananas: Yummy to Eat, And Now Fashionable to Wear

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renewables—think mills powered by solar energy—clothing line Aday developed patterns designed to reduce waste to a minimum, and it saves what scraps that are left for future garments. The New York startup has raised $3.1 million from investors such as H&M CO:LAB, H&M’s venture capital arm, and ADG, a consumer tech-focused fund. Aday has also developed a fabric made from 41 plastic water bottles, from which it makes its “Waste Nothing” jacket.

“We decided to call these experiments because we wanted to try things out on a small scale,” Aday co-founder Meg He said in a Fast Company article in July. “But, in the end, it will help us think about how to push the industry to have higher standards.”

(Outdoor gear retailer Patagonia has for decades recycled plastic bottles into polyester garments. The company’s shirts, jackets, and other items cost more than those sold by H&M and other fast fashion stores, though Patagonia intends for its products to be worn dozens or hundreds of times.)

In April, Circular Systems, a material sciences startup that is focused on converting agricultural, industrial, and consumer waste into textile fibers, received a $350,000 grant from the H&M Foundation. Among the technologies it’s developing is what Circular Systems calls the Agraloop Bio-Refinery, which can convert food crop wastes into fiber from banana trunks, pineapple leaves, sugarcane bark, and stems from oilseed hemp and flax plants.

In 1960, 97 percent of clothing fibers came from plants and animals. Today, it’s about 35 percent, with most clothing being made from petrochemical-derived textiles. The impact will not only adversely impact the environment, but ultimately, the industry itself, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation states: “If nothing is done, these severe weaknesses are expected to grow exponentially with dramatic environmental, societal, and economic consequences, ultimately putting industry profitability at risk.”

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