Covalent carbon capture sunglasses provide a vision of the future of fashion

skin is a A controversial substance, and not just because cows have to die to produce it. Or because leather tanning requires toxic chemicals like chromium, which sometimes happens Dumped directly into the local waterways. No, the worst part about skin, according to environmental activists, is that it’s a major contributor to climate change.

It is estimated that animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Kering, the luxury fashion group that owns such leather-loving brands as Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, said in a statement. Environmental Report 2020 Leather production and processing is by far the largest contributor to its carbon footprint. And when the Amazon rainforest caught fire in 2019, The fires were blamed at least in part in livestock operations, and Many big brands including H&M and Timberland have pledged To stop buying leather from the area.

However, the alternatives available to the fashion industry – polyurethane based on fossil fuels and PVC – leave something to be desired. All plant-crowded leatherettes, which manufacturers claim emit fewer greenhouse gases during production, are also mixed with synthetic petroleum products, making them more harmful than “cruelty-free” marketing suggests. With all the stress around prototyping products from Adidas and Stella McCartney, you’d be forgiven for thinking you could actually buy a lab-grown leather purse or Stan Smith’s mushroom leather boot, but these materials still struggle for commercial viability.

At the moment, there is only an innovative and eco-friendly vegan “leather” that you can click to buy directly from the Internet. AirCarbon, a carbon-negative material made using marine organisms that feed on methane, has been on the market a year ago in the form of sunglasses, wallets, laptop sleeves and a phone.

In an industry known to amplify even the most mundane (other .) product drops Recycled water bottle jacket, anyone?), called a brand new receiver covalentHe was surprisingly silent. Perhaps that can be attributed to the CEO of startup AirCarbon, Mark Harima of Newlight Technologies, who brought the cooler California vibe to our interview. When I noticed his relaxed style, he laughed and pointed out that he had been creating this material for a full 18 years. And anyway, with six rounds of funding under his belt, most recently for $45 million, he’s past the hype stage and into the “just do it” stage.

Literally: In August, Newlight announced a partnership with Nike to explore the uses of AirCarbon. nike who says 70 percent of its emissions are wrapped in its materials, and it is one of the many big fashion brands that have committed To reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30 percent by 2030.

Herema said the idea that would eventually lead to AirCarbon came to him while he was in Princeton in the early 2000s. He was studying politics, but some digestive issues prompted him to start researching diets and diets. Find out that a cow can burp up to 500 liters Methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, is in the atmosphere every day. He imagined the market value of that methane—more than $20,000 a year from a large farm—evaporating into the air, and he saw a business opportunity.

As it turns out, a hundred years ago, scientists discovered that there are organisms that eat greenhouse gases and store that energy inside their cells in the form of a molecule called polyhydroxybutyrate, or PHB. “And this molecule, when you isolate it, turns out to be soluble,” Hirema says. This means it can be molded into all kinds of materials in any color, from leather-like sheets to fibers and solid shapes like sunglasses.

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