Young-A Lee makes clothes from tea. Or rather, she cultures the “mother” from kombucha—a fermented tea—to grow a cellulose gel that can be turned into a vegetable leather. If that sounds a little convoluted, compare it to the process for making regular cowhide leather.
Lee, an associate professor at Iowa State University, created the tea leather as a sustainable alternative to real leather. But it’s not so much leather’s animal origins that led her to find a better option. It’s the waste.
“Fashion companies keep producing new materials and…
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