Around the world, people eat around 100 billion bananas every year. That creates around 270 million tons of waste–from peels to stalks–which are often burned or left to rot. Crop burning pollutes the air, and rotting releases methane into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming.
Food crop waste like banana by-products, pineapple leaves, flax and hemp stalk, and the waste from crushing sugar cane can be collected and spun into a natural fiber that can be woven into garments. As recently as 1960, 97% of the fibers we used in garments and materials were naturally derived. Today, it’s only around 35%.
There’s the Agraloop Bio-Refinery, a proprietary system that transforms crop waste into textiles. The same farmers and producers who harvest the crops can own and use Agraloop systems to create additional revenue for themselves, and put their excess waste to use.
As the population grows, it’s crucial that farmable land be used to grow food, not textile crops like cotton. “If there’s not collective and very swift action, it’s going to be catastrophic for the industry from an economic standpoint,” Nichelson says.