Interview With The Founder of MAVOLU – Material Revolution

Nadja, the founder of MAVOLU, and I go way back to our undergraduate studies where we both showed interest in sustainable fashion. This common interest was definitely a part of what kept us as friends ever since our University studies. I am happy to have a friend with whom I can discuss my interest in sustainable fashion and who is an inspiration to me. I can always count on her support and am every day impressed by her integrity and drive for what she wants to achieve. I wanted to share the interview with Nadja as she has some great points on sustainable issues and innovation currently and she has founded a great new platform for sustainability! I hope you will enjoy this interview and let me know if you want to read more of these kinds of posts in the future!

Interview With The Founder of MAVOLU - Material Revolution - byLiiL

Who are you? And how are you connected to sustainability?

My name is Nadja, I am from Germany and 28 years old. After completing my BA in ‘Fashion Business’ at Glasgow Caledonian University I moved to Berlin in order to study an MA course focussing on sustainability in fashion. My MA project was examining innovative and sustainable materials, in particular, peace silk, banana fibre and soy fibre. I went on a research trip to India in order to learn more about the production and sourcing processes of each fibre, and in addition to that, I designed a small capsule collection made from those materials. After finishing the MA course me and some other students decided to continue working together as re/GENERATE, focussing on collaborations and workshops that are aligned to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.  We also got the chance to show our MA projects as part of the ‘Fashion Sustain’ Conference during Berlin Fashion Week, which was very exciting! A small summary of all the projects can be found on our webpage.

What is MAVOLU?

Ever since I’ve started the MA course I’ve been somewhat obsessed with material innovation, especially because there is so much experimentation going on right now in terms of new and sustainable fibre options. But while I was doing the research for my thesis I realised that it is often quite difficult to gain access to clothing and accessories made from ground­breaking and innovative materials. While there are some designers that are already working with those materials, it is very time­consuming to actually find all of them. So I thought the easiest way to solve this problem was to create a marketplace specifically for products made from innovative materials. I, therefore, started an online platform that is currently covering eight different materials, with the intention to add more over time. In the online shop, you can find beautiful and unique products such as wallets made from banana fibre, dresses made from peace silk, and bags made from cork. In addition to that, MAVOLU wants to create a knowledge exchange in the field of sustainable textiles and fibre options, which is why I have added a material library that will show a short summary of each fibre. I have also recently started a blog where each material will be discussed in more depth and where I will introduce the different designers and brands who are behind all these beautiful products.

Where do you see the future of fashion and sustainability?

While material innovation is a big passion of mine, I am of course aware that the right material choice alone is not going to change the whole fashion industry. But I do believe that it makes a very big difference to choose a low­impact fibre or material at the very beginning of the supply chain, which will then have a positive impact on all other stages ­ for example, a material that is free from chemicals will cause less harm in terms of human toxicity for farmers, weavers, and of course also consumers. This can be as simple as choosing organic

cotton instead of conventional cotton, because its production requires a lot less water, chemicals and fertilisers.

What is the most interesting innovation in terms of materials so far?

I am a big fan of fibre production from agricultural residues, such as banana fibre and pineapple fibre. Banana fibre, for example, is derived from the pseudostem of the banana plant, which would naturally rot once the fruit has been harvested. The fibre is therefore entirely made from a by­product of the food industry and its cultivation does not require any additional resources. The same goes for pineapple fibre production: the fibres can be extracted from the leaves of the plant (again a by­product of the food industry) and can e.g. be turned into Piñatex, an innovative material created by Ananas Anam which is often used as a vegan and environmentally friendly alternative to leather.

 

What do you see as the biggest problem within material innovation?

I think for now a lot of the material innovation is still in the research stage. While fabrics made from Tencel, ramie and hemp have been around for some time now, others are not quite as developed and are therefore not used by many designers. That seems to be the main reason why it is currently still quite difficult to get your hands on items made from innovative and sustainable materials. But I also think that there is a huge interest in developing those materials further, as well as coming up with new alternative fibres. E.g. if you look at the winners of the Global Change Award in the past years then you will notice that at least one of them is focussing on some sort of ground­breaking fibre or material ­ be it from citrus waste, algae, or even cow dung. So over time, those materials will hopefully be used by more designers, and as a result, more people can gain access to it, offering them an alternative to mass­produced items made from unsustainable fibres.

And what do you see as the biggest problem within sustainable fashion?

I think that most of all, we need to start changing the current mindset in terms of value. We are too used to clothing being insanely cheap and therefore disposable. In fact, we are so used to cheap fashion that it has now become the norm, consequently making sustainable fashion appear ‘too expensive’. However, I think it is necessary that we re­value the labour that goes into each and every garment ­ starting with the fibre production, the spinning, the weaving, the sewing, the distribution. If you consider all those individual steps in the supply chain then suddenly sustainable fashion doesn’t seem quite so expensive ­ it’s just a realistic price for a realistic amount of work.

Interview With The Founder of MAVOLU - Material Revolution - byLiiL

Do you have any tips for people who want to be more sustainable in their fashion consumption?

Start small and don’t get demotivated! To be honest I often get demotivated myself, thinking that I can’t really make a difference compared to the bigger picture. But as consumers, we all have a choice, with every single purchase we make. And even if sustainable fashion is not within your budget then there are still plenty of other options, such as buying second­hand or renting your clothes (e.g. from ‘fashion libraries’ such as Kleiderei. All those seemingly small steps are contributing a lot towards a more sustainable future in fashion.

Interview With The Founder of MAVOLU - Material Revolution - byLiiL

 

I hope that interview got you more excited about material innovation. Now go check MAVOLU out and learn even more about innovative materials. And check her beautiful Instagram account as well!
If you have any additional questions to Nadja ask them in the comment box below!
Shop the products in the post:
With love,
Lii
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Sustainable News of the Month – February 2018

Smartphones and Data Centres Harm The Environment –  A Sustainable issue where we wouldn’t even think of looking: “For every text message, for every phone call, every video you upload or download, there’s a data centre making this happen. Telecommunications networks and data centres consume a lot of energy to serve you and most data centres continue to be powered by electricity generated by fossil fuels. It’s the energy consumption we don’t see.”

Limited Scope of Corporate Sustainability Revealed – As consumers increasingly require more ethical and sustainable practices from the brands they consume, the brands invest in some level of sustainability in their supply chain. However, study shows that the reach of their sustainability falls short.

Sustainable News of the Month - February 2018- byLiiL

Soil Cannot Halt Climate Change – It’s implausible to treat crops and soil to absorb more carbon to halt climate change.

Free First-Of-Its-Kind App Enables Total Impact Modeling of Products – An app that helps any start-up and company to quickly design products with environmentalism and economics in mind. “The system immediately quantifies possible improvements across all performance attributes, such as the effects on compliance, costs and environment.”

How To Keep Computers Out Of Landfills and Recyclers Out Of Prisons – An article explaining why recycling computers and other electronics seem to be a problem.

Can Land-Based Fish Farms Promote Food Security – To not overfish from the oceans and to secure non-contaminated fish, are fish farms a sustainable consideration?

Sustainable News of the Month - February 2018- byLiiL

Arctic Spring Is Starting 16 Days Earlier Than A Decade Ago – This might not sound like a lot, but in a place where spring and summer are shorter than further south, it is a drastic change.

Jaguars Killed For Fangs To Supply Growing Chinese Medicine Trade – I can’t believe that I am still reading this kind of titles. I would’ve imagined that in a country that has as stringed control over beauty testing, there would be something done for the medical industry as well. It saddens me to see these beautiful animals killed when they are already on the brink of extinction, but it also saddens me to read that something has driven the local people to do this.

Should Cloning Bring Back Extinct Species – Do we want to visit the real Jurassic Park or perhaps help reduce the effect we’ve had on the wildlife in recent years?

Sustainable News of the Month - February 2018- byLiiL

FASHION AND SUSTAINABILITY

Why Green Consumerism Isn’t Taking Off – Nevertheless of people being sustainably conscious, as consumers seem that it is peer acceptable to be shopping for fast fashion they do not feel about it. The thrill of finding a bargain and having certain shopping behaviour, it is too much effort to find new brands that would be ethical, would fit, is the right style and the right price point.

Levi’s Cleans Up Denim Supply Chain With Automated Finishing Process – Levi has found an automated way to finish denim without as many chemicals. They are also planning to reduce chemical discharge by 2020 and hope to reuse water in the near future. In addition, they are planning to reduce textile waste. All of this sounds great and about time! But my question is; is it healthy for the people who are going to wearing the garments? And are they recompensating the employees who might have long-term problems from making their denim?

Digital Technology As A Driver Of Sustainable Innovation – Article explaining what are the technological innovations that help designers to have a more sustainable designing, sampling and production methods.

Is ‘Ethical Fashion’ Made With Deadstock Fabric Just Greenwashing? – Explaining how deadstock fabrics and mills who create them work.

Sustainable News of the Month - February 2018- byLiiL

EVERYTHING ABOUT THE WATER

Wastewater Treatment Plants Could Generate Electricity – There is another possibility for clean energy.

Stand-alone System To Produce Drinking Water By Means of Solar Energy – “Designed only for desalinating water, this is a sustainable, eco-friendly technology, as its energy is supplied by solar photovoltaic panels in a CO2-free process, thus not contributing to climate change.”

Water Filtration Breakthrough Using Metal-Organic Frameworks – A new innovation can separate ion and salt from the water.

Involving The Public In Water Policies Is Key To Successful Municipal Water Systems –  Article outlines how one study researched water quality and people’s concern for costs and shortages. How human behaviours can influence water policy in a city.

Sustainable News of the Month - February 2018- byLiiL

The 11 Cities Most Likely To Run Out Of Drinking Water – Like Cape Town – As the crisis in Cape Town is reported other cities watch it with fear of who will follow the suit.

Averting the Next Cape Town: Water Strategy Is A Shared Responsibility – Article examines what went wrong in Cape Town and what we can learn from it.

Sustainable News of the Month - February 2018- byLiiL

 

Share your sustainable news in the comment box below!

With love,

Lii

Sustainability in 2017

2017 was a year of learning to me, as I mentioned in the Reflections and Goals post. I learned a lot about myself and about sustainability. There is still much more to learn, but I have to be proud of all that I’ve learned so far. If you missed any of those posts here is the list of sustainability posts from 2017:

5 easy sustainable fashion changes - byLiiL

Bee’s Wrap Sheets – A Sustainable Food Wrapping

4 Posts That Make You Think

Sustainable Vegetable Marking – Forget The Stickers

Dreams of a Dining Space

5 Easy Sustainable Fashion Changes

Why Change To Natural Cleaning Products?

Anek. – Sustainable and Instagrammable

Introducing Primrose and Pixie

A Mall For Repaired and Recycled Goods

Fashion Revolution Week

Introducing Mirabelle – Jewellery with Meaning

6 Piece Capsule Wardrobe by Honest Rosie - byLiiL

Introducing Boodle Boutique

Travel Sustainably

Use Your Power of ‘Choice’ When Making Buying

Straws – Eco-Friendly or Healthy?

Inspiration of the Month – The Sustainable Futures Report Podcast

7 Reasons Why I Choose To Shop Small

Introducing – 1 Dress 14 Styles by Doo.Bla.Vey

Sustainable News of the Month – July 2017

Are Big Brands Stealing Small Brand Thunder?

Before the Flood Documentary and Review

Uncovering The Secrets Behind Fashion Sizing - byLiiL

TED Talks About Sustainability

Understand The Sustainable Fashion Terminology

Chasing Coral

Why Do We Expect To Buy Cheap Fashion?

Sustainability Causes and How To Support Sustainability

Inspiration of the Month – Cradle to Cradle

Sustainable News of the Month – October 2017

What’s All The Fuss About Plastic?

Why I Don’t Shop on Black Friday – The Issue With The Sales Culture

Sustainable News of the Month – November 2017

Straws - Eco-Friendly or Healthy?

My plan is to make even more and better sustainability content for this year and you can help by letting me know what you would like to read about Sustainability in 2018 in the comment box below!

With love,

Lii

Inspiration of the Month – Cradle to Cradle

This post is coming to you quite late, not because I didn’t know what I wanted to write about, I actually have been inspired by this book for a while now, but I found it quite hard to summarise everything that I found interesting in the book!

Inspiration of the Month - Cradle to Cradle - byLiiL

Cradle to Cradle is a design philosophy as well as a book which I am basing my inspiration on. The book was written by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. It is a small book, only 186 pages, but it offers an immense amount of inspiration especially for design practitioners as well as consumers who want to be more sustainable and mindful of their lifestyle. It helps you understand what are the problems in the current design methods, what is being done about them and offers ideas what could be the better way to design.

In this book, I found that the main principle that McDonough and Braungart were saying is that almost all our products have been designed wrong as they end up being a waste and littering our planet and that we should learn from nature. In product design the common thing to think about is what is the product the consumers want or need, how can it be produced as economically as possible, so that the company can win the big profits from the product sales. It is completely ignoring the afterlife of the product or its ingredients where valuable ingredients often end up to the landfills or being downcycled, as the ingredients were not designed to be retrieved at the end of the products useful life. For example, we think that recycling is an amazing way of being sustainable. We might not realise that actually it is just being a bit less bad and trying to find an alternative to the landfills. Big amount of the waste is incinerated which can cause toxic dioxides. The rest are recycled, but as our products haven’t been designed so that the ingredients with which the products were made with could be retrieved, but they rather are mixed with chemicals or other ingredients that reduce the value and usability of the ingredient.

Inspiration of the Month - Cradle to Cradle - byLiiL

Instead companies could be taking example out of nature of how to make their products profitable, good for the environment and the human beings, that could improve human life, be economical not only with making the product but potentially for the human who uses it, for the government or for the same company once again when they receive their ingredients and can build more products out of it again. The products could be designed with the whole lifecycle in mind rather than just the most useful one.

 

“We need to see the world as what we can learn from it, not as what we can take from it”

 

Many times while reading the book I felt that the whole humankind is doomed as it has designed everything wrong and how companies are still using toxic ingredients in various products that can be harmful to humans, how companies are eroding soil and destroying ecosystems only to find new materials for their products and get their profits. But the solutions the book offers are clever and doable if only enough people would go the extra mile. It offers various long-haul plans that would end up being economical to the company, the economy and the people as well if companies thought about their products as more than profit.

Inspiration of the Month - Cradle to Cradle - byLiiL

Another important point raised in the book was how everything is designed for everybody without understanding that everybody and every place has different needs. I read several lovely and maybe slightly disgusting stories about how people in rural areas used to get rid of their waste or use various things to their advantage whilst keeping their ecosystems thriving until the modern technology and infrastructure was introduced and their ecosystems paid for it. Whilst upgrading and improving areas we should think about ways how it can be done to support humans as well as the ecosystem in which it is done. So there wasn’t bare pieces of land where nothing grows anymore because of pesticides or a wrong way of doing agriculture for that area. Companies should be more respectful of the knowledge local people have of their ecosystems!

 

“What would have happened, we sometimes wonder, if the industrial revolution had taken place in societies that emphasize the community over the individual, and where people believed not in cradle-to-grave life cycle but in reincarnation?”

 

We often forget what effect our actions can do, but on this planet, every action can affect multiple things from other people to other organisms, to the ecosystems, so we should strive to make better choices and be less selfish about them. I got really inspired by this book and still while reading it started to be more mindful about the products that I am using or buying and what I should be looking at instead. Sometimes there is no best option and we just have to work with the “least bad” whilst letting our actions speak for themselves. I do hope there will be more designers who are adopting this design philosophy. I can see how the world could be a much more beautiful and healthy place.

 

“Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. Negligence is described as doing the same thing over and over again even though you know it is dangerous or wrong.”

 

Inspiration of the Month - Cradle to Cradle - byLiiL

Here you can see just how much I was inspired by the book. All the folded pages are something that I want to keep coming back to!

Have you read Cradle to cradle?

With love,

Lii

TED Talks About Sustainability

Here are some Ted talks to inspire, inform and think about sustainability, fashion and environment.

How Pollution Is Changing The Ocean’s Chemistry – Explaining one part of climate change.

Truly Sustainable Economic Development – This one is not so much about environmental sustainability, but does have an interesting way of thinking that can be applied to sustainability and environmentalism through entrepreneurship. Ernesto Sirolli is funny, but so on point and has great insight!

TED Talks About Sustainability - byLiiL

Why I Don’t Care About ‘Climate Change’ – David Saddington explains why people are not taking climate change so seriously, as they do not see the effect on themselves.

Our Relationship To Fast Fashion – This is only a short piece done by a young girl, who question whether ignorance is a bliss and the western culture.

 

Have you seen any additional sustainable Ted talks? Share them in the comment box below!

With love,

Lii

 

 

Sustainable News of the Month – July 2017

Sea Shells For Sale: A New Source Of Sustainable Biomaterials – Discarded molluscs are a big waste that could potentially be turned into a circular economy.

Remote Sensing Technologies Key To The Future Of The Oil Palm Industry – We know that the oil palm industry can be very harmful to our environment and animals, but it is also a very productive crop meaning companies will want to harvest it. This article discusses the possibilities of making it more sustainable.

Sustainable News of the Month - July 2017 - byLiiL

Biodegradable Cleaning Products And Eco-Friendly Plastics From Mushroom Waste – Each week more than 50,000 tonnes of mushroom waste is generated in Europe alone. How great it will be if this can be generated into something else?

Sourcemap, Provenance Harness Supply Chain Mapping, Blockchain Tech to Power Robust Traceability Platform – Traceability for brands and customers.

Meet the Company Refusing to Accept When a Lithium Ion Battery Is ‘Dead’ – Different solutions for Lithium Ion batteries to reduce wastage.

Sustainable News of the Month - July 2017 - byLiiL

Target, Stella McCartney Strike Up New Partnerships to Drive Sustainable Textile Solutions – Research into sustainable cotton production.

British Retailer Tesco To Detoxify Clothing – How Tesco is joining other brands at aiming to remove toxic chemicals from their clothing supply chain.

The Next Step In Sustainable Design: Bringing The Weather Indoors – How nature and weather affect our mood and mental health, and the way design can support it.

 

Have you read any interesting sustainable news lately? Share them in the comment box below!

With love,

Lii

What Have I Been Up To In May

The end of May was a beautiful time in the UK with the amazing sunshine and the heatwave, and I enjoyed it to my fullest, but more of it in the upcoming Happy Favourites of the Week post. During May I’ve been trying to plan and look for the summer, but somehow the summer bucket list seems to be hard to compile and half of what I managed to add to it was accomplished during the beautiful days in May; drink Pimms cocktail, sunbathe in the botanical gardens, spend time on a terrace. The rest are concentrated on travelling and working, as well as reading few more books and having a picnic. I hope I will be bitten by the summer inspiration bug in June! What summer did inspire me to do though was write about Finland as a tourist destination and some tips to be touristy in a sustainable way.

Happy Favourites of the Week - New Found Motivation - byLiiL

This month I was excited about several sustainable brands like Mirabelle Jewellery and Boodle boutique. What especially caught my eye was the Kickstarter campaign by OneSqin, which you should definitely check out as well!

Introducing Mirabelle - Jewellery with Meaning - byLiiL

I got on a story mood in one of my happy favourites of the week and in another, I told about my Finland trip and my beautiful new dishes! I shared my favourite April pictures from Instagram, and there were quite a few of them. I shared some videos for feminists and about feminism, which I was inspired by.

Happy Favourites of the Week - The Happy Day - byLiiL

By the end of the month, we were shocked by the brutality in Manchester which made me think and then inspired me to share some articles that inspired hope. Sometimes even the terrible things can inspire you to do something, and I guess it is exactly the horrible things that inspire the change in our world. What do you think? Finally, I ended the month with hopes of inspiring people to really embrace their power to choose how they behave and how the purchase things.

Now I wish June will be full of adventures for me and in addition to hard work I wish to relax a lot! How was your May?

With love,

Lii