Text description provided by Vollebak: Made from pulped eucalyptus and beech from sustainably managed forests, and algae grown in bioreactors, the Vollebak Plant and Algae T Shirt doesn’t start life like any other piece of clothing.
And it doesn’t end its life like any other piece of clothing either. When you’ve finished with the t-shirt it turns into worm food. You can either put it in the compost or bury it in your garden to biodegrade in the soil and it will be gone within 12 weeks.
The design of the t-shirt is made entirely from algae. To turn it into a printable ink we used the same technique used in Kenya to create algae cake. Instead of passing lake water through a cotton net, we pass water from the bioreactor through a filter.
This process separates the algae, leaving a soupy algae paste. This paste is then dried in the sun to create a fine powder, and this powder is mixed with a water-based binder to make algae ink.
It’s then printed onto a shirt that is made of wood pulp from sustainably managed forests. Eucalyptus, beech, and spruce are chipped and pulped, before being turned into fibre, then yarn and finally fabric.
All the wood is harvested from sustainable forestry plantations and certified by both the Forestry Sustainability Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Representing over 700 million acres of certified forests, the PEFC is the largest forest certification system in the world.
“The only thing different about this t shirt is that it grew in soil and water, and that’s where it’s designed to end up too. All you need to do is remember to compost it at the end of its life. Here it will biodegrade with them, turn into soil, and help new plants to grow,” explains Vollebak co-founder, Steve Tidball.
“Algae can’t survive once it’s removed from water, so the algae on the t-shirt is no longer alive. And because it started life as a plant rather than a chemical dye, the natural pigment in algae is more sensitive and won’t behave like colour normally does on clothing. As soon as it comes into contact with air it starts to oxidise, which means the green will begin to change colour and your t shirt may look different from one week to the next as it fades, making every t-shirt unique.”