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Challenge: PETA launches $1 million design competition to create vegan wool

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The wool alternative needs to be completely free of animal products in a bid to eliminate the growing ethical and environmental concerns related to mass animal agriculture.

JENNIFER HAHN: Animal rights organisation PETA has launched the Vegan Wool Challenge, calling on designers and researchers to develop a vegan alternative to sheep’s wool with a lower environmental impact. The competition will award $1 million to the first entrant who develops a bio-based or bioengineered material that mimics the look, feel and performance of wool and is adopted by a major fashion brand.

The hope is that this will help to cut emissions from the wool industry and support PETA’s ongoing campaign against animal cruelty. “Even on ‘sustainable’ and ‘responsible’ farms, workers beat, stomped on, cut up and slit the throats of conscious, struggling sheep,” PETA claimed.

“The creation of a viable, sustainable vegan wool could help abate suffering and fight the climate catastrophe, as the wool industry produces massive amounts of methane, erodes soil and contaminates waterways”… “Among animals, sheep are second only to cows when it comes to the production of the greenhouse gas methane,” PETA said.

The winning material has to rival or surpass the beneficial qualities of wool, which is rapidly renewable and can be used to create garments that are biodegradable and recyclable while helping to neutralise odour and hold in warmth. At the same time, the wool alternative needs to be completely free of animal products in a bid to eliminate the growing ethical and environmental concerns related to mass animal agriculture.

In terms of volume, wool is the most commonly used animal fibre in the fashion. But it is also among the industry’s most polluting materials, ranked in the top four just behind leather, silk and cotton – and coming off worse than plastic-based synthetic leather…

With its $1 million prize pot, PETA now hopes to accelerate innovation in this space by demanding that the winning material must be scalable and sold by at least one of the 10 largest clothing retailers in the world by January 2024. “From apples and hemp to kombucha tea and cacti, there seems to be no limit to what designers can use to create wonderful, animal-free clothing and accessories,” said PETA’s executive vice president Tracy Reiman…

A slew of companies are already racing to create biomaterial alternatives to leather and silk, made of everything from mushroom mycelium to natural rubber and rice husks, which have been highly publicised and adopted by brands from Adidas and Hermès to The North Face. SOURCE…

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