A new material made from seaweed will transform the entire textile industry
Kelsun™, Keel Labs’ flagship product, is combating textile waste and turning the fashion industry (and potentially beyond) into a more sustainable economy.
Fashion is one of the planet’s biggest polluters – up to twenty one billion tonnes of textiles and materials end up in landfills every year, accounting for up to 10% of global CO2 emissions.
As a designer working in fashion and seeing first-hand the amount of waste and pollution generated by the industry, I recognized that the materials throughout our most fundamental items were simply too harmful to reconcile. Rather than continuing to contribute to the problem, I set out to make a change, starting with the building blocks of garments: fibers, yarns, and textiles.
My co-founder, Aleks Gosiewski and I founded Keel Labs with a mission to harness the radical potential of our oceans to positively impact the fashion industry and the world. The actualization of this mission is steadfastly rooted in our belief that we can transform our planetary health by combining material science and design thinking in collaboration with nature.
Our flagship product is a yarn called Kelsun™ made from abundant polymers found in kelp. By connecting planet-positive resources with the existing textile supply chain, we are able to help brands transform their models into the circular economy.
Because seaweed is vertically farmed in the ocean, sequesters carbon at a rapid rate, and is one of the most regenerative organisms on the planet, Kelsun™ has a lower environmental footprint than conventional fibers currently available on the market.
Kelsun™ also bypasses the environmental detriments of conventional yarn production. With a production process that uses no harmful chemicals, minimal water, and does not create toxic by-products, the result is a cleaner manufacturing process for people and the planet. Furthermore, Kelsun’s production is a drop-in solution for existing yarn and textile production infrastructure—enabling vast potential for scale.
As a collective of scientists, designers, and innovators who are fighting against material waste, we are building a healthy relationship between nature and the human ecosystems.
By using seaweed, which is not only a renewable source but also carbon sequestering, we are changing the textile ecosystem and creating a more sustainable and circular future.
Tessa Callaghan is a guest contributor to Upworthy and co-founder and CEO of Keel Labs.