A company in Bristol has created an ultra-sustainable material for clothing which is produced within a 15-mile radius of the city from start to finish – and is even compostable.
Bristol Cloth has already sold out of its first 200 metres of material following a crowdfunding campaign and is now producing orders for customers in Australia and the US.
Babs Behan is behind the idea and told Sky News the aim is to bring complete clothing production back inside the UK.
“The UK no longer has a wealth of textiles being manufactured here which are also grown here,” she said.
“A lot of the different elements in the production process happen in different continents and (there is a) lot of transport between continents as well.”
She added: “It’s a highly unsustainable industry so we’re looking to bring manufacturing back to where it used to be and to close the loop in the things we are making.”
The company uses wool from sheep from a farm 12 miles south of Bristol before processing and dyeing the product in the city.
Fernhill Farm uses a regenerative style of sheep farming – letting fields rest by keeping flocks on the move – which it says is better for the environment.
The wool it provides to Bristol Cloth is of a clean grade meaning it does not need to be chemically washed.
Ms Behan says this means the products created by Bristol Cloth could be composted back into the ground.
“It will be something you can compost and something that can end up back in natural ecological systems because it contains no harmful chemicals,” she said.
“It will be safe to go into the ground, into the soil. It is going to give nutrition back to the soil for other life forms.”
Local designers in Bristol are now using the material to fulfil orders.
The textile industry is regarded as one of the most polluting industries in the world – in part down to our appetite for cheap throwaway fashion.
Jane Murrow, from the Chelsea School of Art, thinks consumer attitudes to where clothes come from and how they are made must change.
“I think there has to be a massive adjustment in terms of consumers’ minds,” she said.
“Not only how much we consume, but what we consume and what we’re prepared to spend as well.
“Textiles and fashion have been far too cheap – unrealistically cheap for too long.”
In 2018, the government wrote to 16 leading UK fashion retailers, including major supermarkets, to urge them to improve the social and environmental impact of the clothes they sell.