Shirts made of materials manufactured from cow manure. Can you wear a shirt like that? Is it even possible to make a shirt like that? The answer to the first question depends on you. But as far as the second question is concerned, the answer to that is yes. Waste from a cow is always considered a waste. But Jalila Essaidi and some Dutch farmers are working together to make cow manure into a material that can be used to make clothes.
Jalila Essaidi says,” Like a lasagne of manure, you need to make something out of it.” She added,” We see manure as a waste material, something disgusting and smelly. But oil isn’t clean and beautiful at the beginning. You have to show people the hidden beauty if you transform this cellulose.”
Jalila Essaidi is currently working with 15 farmers to create a large-scale manure refinery to increase the manufacturing of their cow manure clothing line, Mestic. For the innovative thinking, she has already won $200,000 from Chivas Venture besides winning tons of other awards, including the H&M Foundation Global Change Award.
When asked about the process involved she said that it was a chemical and mechanical process. Essaidi says,” When you collect manure, it’s a combination of urine and cow poop, 80% water. We separate the dry and wet traction. The wet fraction is fermented and we [extract] solvents to transform the cellulose, which is nothing other than the grass and corn the cows eat.” She added,” What makes our process better than the normal textile industry Croft method is that we don’t need high pressure, as the cow stomach is the first step in making the fibre softer. It’s also more energy efficient.”
What remains a question to all is whether these clothes smell. To find an answer to that question, a Dutch news channel took Mestic out to the streets for the public to judge for themselves. After really inspecting and sniffing the materials, they said they wouldn’t mind wearing it at all.
However, besides the support, charity and awards from various individuals, there are still some people who are sceptical about this. One among them is Mr Jan Willem van der Schans who says,” This will not solve the beef and dairy problem gastric methane emissions.” He added,” It makes a ‘dead end’ technology less bad, so one could argue that it extends the lifetime of a wrong production system.”
But what about the people that spend most of their time around cow manure? What do farmers think of it? Hans Huijbers, The chair of the farmers working with Mestic said that he wouldn’t mind wearing it. He said,” If I’ve been busy in my cowshed, then I’m already coated in manure!”