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Brief Published: 15 Apr 2020

Start-Up Develops Freshwater-Free Sustainable Textiles


The fashion and textile industries are notorious for their excessive use of freshwater across many manufacturing processes. In an attempt to tackle the problem, London-based start-up SaltyCo is developing a range of sustainable fabrics made using seawater-grown plants.

Existing cultivation methods for the likes of cotton need freshwater to succeed. However, according to the start-up, the water used to produce a single cotton sock equates to three years’ worth of drinking water for one person.

Working with saline farmers, SaltyCo has identified a salt-tolerant plant (currently undisclosed) that can be irrigated using seawater. The plants are then processed into fibres, which are suitable for woven, non-woven and insulation materials.

The insulation is lightweight, hydrophobic and completely natural, offering a sustainable alterative to existing synthetic filling options – see New Puffer Jacket is Stuffed with Flowers for another example. Meanwhile, the fabrics will offer alternatives to faux leather and textiles for clothing domains. The team is currently working on bringing the materials to market.

The sustainability credentials of all raw and manufactured materials are increasingly coming under fire, but the road to a truly sustainable product is complex. Our Trend Reports in Sustainable Fashion: A How-To-Guide help to decipher better options across materials, manufacturing and marketing. Read How to Source to learn about a more responsible and sustainable materials portfolio.

See Water Warriors for more on cross-industry best practices in water conservation.