Most materials in the world will biodegrade eventually (be decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms), but some take longer than others. Plastic, for instance, can take up to 1,000 years to decompose in landfills. The biodegradability of materials depends on their chemical structure, and natural fabrics like cotton and wool typically break down faster than polyester and other manufactured fabrics, says Vogue Business. As an example, 100% of non-woven polyester will remain in microbial soil after 28 days, while only 40% of woven cotton does.
But that’s not the only consideration. Depending on the manufacturing process, fabrics may contain ink or chemicals that leach into the soil and can contaminate groundwater. This is something innovative men’s fashion brand Vollebak has taken into account when designing its latest product — a hoodie that’s completely compostable and biodegradable.
The Plant and Pomegranate hoodie is made from sustainably-sourced, pulped eucalyptus and beech tree using an environmentally responsible process with recycled water and solvent. The light hoodie has no zips, buttons or pullers, but it does feature recycled cotton thread and a care instructions label that dissolves when washed. It’s colored and softened with a dye made from pomegranate peels.
You can bury the hoodie in the ground or throw it into your compost along with the fruit peels from your kitchen, and it will simply disappear without a trace. Of course, it needs a certain level of bacteria and heat for this to happen, and sweat doesn’t count, so you don’t have to worry about it degrading while you’re still using it.
The $295 hoodie is “robust enough to survive our planet’s unpredictable future,” according to the product page. It will take about eight weeks to decompose if buried in compost, and up to 12 weeks if buried in the ground.
The Vollebak founders, twin brothers, designers and athletes Nick and Steve Tidball, look to the past for inspiration for their biodegradable clothing line.
“5,000 years ago our ancestors were making their clothes from nature, using grass, tree bark, animal skins and plants,” they wrote in an email newsletter. “But for the last few centuries we’ve been heading in the wrong direction. We want to get back to the point where you could throw your clothes away in a forest and nature would take care of the rest.”
Would you buy this all-natural hoodie?