This fashion label is making clothes out of air pollution

Streetwear label Pangaia desires to promote you pollution. Actually.

The model’s newest capsule assortment options clothes and equipment emblazoned with logos that use black ink produced from poisonous particles. This particulate matter would in any other case contribute to international warming and hurt human well being. However Pangaia partnered with Graviky Labs, a startup spun out of an MIT undertaking, to suck it out of the ambiance and rework it into display screen printing ink. This is the primary time this type of ink has been utilized in clothes.

[Photo: Pangaia]

Making a marketplace for pollution

Anirudh Sharma, Graviky’s cofounder, is from India, the place air pollution is a significant issue. The nation is essentially the most polluted on earth, with no less than 140 million people inhaling air that is no less than 10 instances above the World Well being Group’s protected limits. In large cities, like Delhi and Calcutta, manufacturing crops spew tiny particles into the ambiance, shrouding the town in a perpetual dense fog. Six years in the past, when Sharma was learning on the MIT Media Lab, he started to tinker with the concept of capturing these particles and reworking them right into a helpful product. “It got here out of the hacker tradition at MIT,” says Sharma. “If there’s an issue and also you take a look at it a bit of in a different way, you may uncover large, untapped alternatives.”

Sharma centered particularly on carbon, one of the most important sources of air pollution, which enters the ambiance when automobiles, factories, and energy crops burn fuels. When the particles are seen, you may see smoke within the air, however the extra harmful particles are these which can be too tiny to understand. These particles, that are generally known as PM 2.5, can get deep into an individual’s lungs and bloodstream, impacting respiration and coronary heart features. Additionally they linger within the ambiance, trapping the solar’s warmth and contributing to local weather change. It is attainable to seize these microscopic particles, however most firms don’t have the inducement to take action. Sharma believed that if this pollution turned the uncooked materials for a brand new product, it may create a brand new income stream. “Should you create a marketplace for this carbon—for this trash—then extra carbon might be collected,” Sharma says.


He developed a course of for filtering particulate matter from the ambiance, then isolating and purifying the carbon particles, so they’d be protected to make use of. When he collected sufficient particles, it created a strong mass that appeared a bit like charcoal and smudged simply on paper. So he started to create strong and liquid inks, from pencils to printer cartridges. When he graduated, he launched Graviky Labs to proceed creating and commercializing this ink, now referred to as Air-Ink.

He’s since moved the corporate’s operations to India, the place it companions with factories and automobile operators to seize carbon emissions on the supply. Graviky makes use of a cylindrical gadget it calls the Kaalink to gather the exhaust, which is then filtered to eliminated heavy metals and carcinogens. On the finish of the method, the corporate is left with a black pigment that may be remodeled into varied sorts of ink. (Emissions from 2,500 hours of driving a regular automobile can produce 150 liters of ink, which is sufficient for hundreds of shirts.)

[Photo: Pangaia]

A trendy new ink

Amanda Parkes, the chief innovation officer at Pangaia, is an alumna of the MIT Media Lab and had heard about Sharma’s work. The fashion trade makes use of ink extensively to create dyes and patterns on material, so she wished to understand how Air-Ink may work on clothes.

Collectively, Sharma and Parkes collaborated on a model that may work in silkscreen printing, which is how patterns are utilized to clothes. They discovered that the Air-Ink produced a black pigment that was corresponding to—or higher than—what Pangaia was already utilizing. “Within the fashion sector, we spend so much of time in artificial chemistry, utilizing so much of poisonous chemical substances, to get a black this pure,” Parkes says. “We have already got this good black ink in nature, so why not use it as an alternative of synthesizing one thing else?”

Pangaia is recognized for utilizing experimental sustainable supplies in its clothes, together with a patented new filling for down jackets produced from a polymer that comes from wildflowers and corn. But it surely’s by no means straightforward to include new supplies into the fashion provide chain, she says. Not solely do producers should be taught tips on how to use them, however in some instances, the federal government additionally must approve them. “We’re speaking a few materials that doesn’t have a class as a result of it’s so new,” says Parkes. “Luckily, we’ve got a workforce of individuals who have expertise coping with these regulatory bottlenecks.”

Air-Ink is at the moment double the value of related black inks in the marketplace as a result of Graviky invested a lot cash creating it. However for an organization reminiscent of Pangaia, the fabric presents a chance to start out a dialog about fashion’s function in air pollution and local weather change, and the way it’s making an attempt to handle it. It plans to proceed utilizing Graviky’s ink in different merchandise going ahead. “There’s so much of language round local weather change that is very complicated,” says Parkes. “Individuals don’t absolutely perceive the distinction between carbon dioxide and carbon particles, or what it means to sequester carbon. With this product launch, we’ve got a chance to have this dialog.”

Sharma’s final objective is to cut back the value of Air-Ink in order that it’s aggressive with different inks. He says it will take a number of years, however he hopes that within the meantime, the ink’s sustainability element might be a promoting level for firms that wish to mitigate their carbon impression. “It’s a wholly new method to carbon seize,” he says. “We’re actually extracting carbon particles from the ambiance and promoting it to the patron.”