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The Company Making T-shirts From Spoiled Milk

June 16, 2020 | Joseph Myers

Millions of pounds of milk have gone to waste this year, and more will likely do so as states ponder how they will continue to handle supply chain disruptions from the coronavirus. We have long known that we should make lemonade when life gives us lemons, but Mi Terro, a Los Angeles apparel company, is altering that saying for this situation, using discarded milk to make T-shirts that have thus far proven pretty popular.

Darigold gives a fascinating account of the move by Mi Terro and its founder, Robert Luo, to alter the fashion industry. In it, some sobering facts dovetail with the aforementioned point on wasted milk to classify the present as a key time to evaluate what the T-shirt creation process involves. Take the piece’s note that a single cotton T-shirt requires at least 714 gallons of water to reach the masses, along with the overall call for sustainability, and Mi Terro sounds as if it could become a standout due to the reported softness of goods that depend on milk proteins and fibers.

Here’s how the process works, via Darigold:

With just six employees, the Los Angeles-based company released its first tee—known for its soft, allergen-fee qualities—in June 2019. The company’s Pro-Act technology extracts casein-protein molecules out of milk sourced from farms, grocery stores and food-processing centers. Next, the casein protein is turned into “good” casein protein via self-assembly purification, before it is spun into sustainable fibers using dynamic flow shear (DFS) spinning.

“We use the existing viscose spinning machines to perform DFS,” says Luo. “It is a wet-spinning process often used to create cellulose fibers.”

The apparel world has recently gravitated even more toward environmental integrity, and one would think that the combination of encouragement from the public and the sad fate of so much milk would merge as one of the positives to come out of the pandemic. If we also consider that one glass of milk by itself can reportedly help to make five T-shirts and commend Mi Terro for planting 15 trees for each purchase, it stands to reason that until the supply chain somewhat returns to normal and dairy farmers are able to connect with their usual partners, the company might find itself on the mooooove in securing even more credibility.

This news also has us wondering if other companies are going to consider making milk a mainstay in their composition of T-shirts and if other apparel items could yield similarly comfortable creations. We would think that jeans might be a stretch, but we could see ourselves and others skimming a catalog, inspecting a website or, dare we say, heading to a store to see the handiwork.

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