Subject Matters – The Monthly Molecule

Subject Matters – The Monthly Molecule

In celebration of the festive season, the December Monthly molecule edition is dedicated to Christmas. We’re pleased to report that this edition has been written and collated by our Year 12 Scientists. Here we publish a taster of the new Monthly Molecule with the feature article titled, A Christmas Made of Food Waste.

As we approach the festive season, everyone will be rushing around trying to buy the best gifts for their loved ones. However, now more than ever, we must try and avoid plastics and other materials that are harming our planet. Recently, there has been a big push towards the innovation of sustainable materials. However, some of these are made of materials you would not expect. When I say food waste, it probably evokes a rancid image. What you may not have in mind, is that out of this waste, researchers around the world are creating innovative fibres and fabrics made from its by-products. These fabrics have lower carbon footprints and often have the added bonus of being biodegradable. It is no wonder that brands are snapping them up to make everything from trainers to spectacles. Here are a few such fabrics that I found particularly intriguing:


MycoTex is a material similar to leather made out of the mushroom spore mycelium. It is grown in a mould, so there is absolutely no waste – garments don’t even need to be sewn! The best part is, that once you are done with the garment, it is completely biodegradable – you can put it in your home compost. Yes, home compostable clothes are now a thing! Most fast-fashion production is currently carried out in Asia due to the availability of more skilled workers and lower labour costs. However, you can grow MycoTex locally, with the whole process being fully automated. It needs no farmland, pesticides nor hazardous chemicals.


I think we all can relate to the foul taste of spoiled milk – yuk! Most of us could hardly imagine that vile curdled liquid being the basis for a new dress line or moisturiser. Using spoiled milk to create textiles is not a new concept. People have been trying to make fabrics from milk protein since 1930. QMILK turns milk, that would have otherwise been wasted, into fibres and cosmetics that are biodegradable. QMILK is antibacterial, dermatologically beneficial and flame retardant. To top it all off, it is a zero-waste process.


The UK is responsible for a quarter of a million tonnes of waste coffee grounds every year. Once these reach the landfill, they emit methane and turn the soil acidic. So why not use them to create great fashion instead? S.Café uses leftover coffee grounds to make yarns. The yarns have a high surface area, making them excellent at dispersing water. This leaves you with a textile that is great at absorbing body odours as well as reflecting UV rays (200% faster than cotton!). The yarns can be used in tops, bottoms, bedding, shoes, luggage and accessories. S.Café fabric has already been hugely popular with retail giants Timberland, The North Face, and American Eagles Denim.

So, when you are out doing your Christmas shopping, why not keep an eye out for products made from sustainable materials. The ones I have discussed above are still relatively new to the market, so may be a little out of budget. However, there are numerous other affordable, sustainable materials out there. This year, I don’t know about you but I’m going to be dreaming of a green Christmas.

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