Did you know it takes 10,000 litres of water to produce a pair of jeans?

Gary Cass’s Nanollose could be a game changer in sustainable fashion.

Gary’s first vat of wine wasn’t a success; in fact, he failed so badly that the wine was undrinkable. It was contaminated with a bacteria which converted the wine into vinegar, leaving behind a slimy, sludgy material. Gary looked a little closer and found that the material was very similar in structure to cellulose.

Cellulose is the component that gives cotton its structure, so Gary started researching whether the slimy substance could be used in the place of water-hungry materials, like cotton. Currently, cotton requires a lot of land and water, making it an environmentally undesirable option for the fashion industry. So Gary got in touch with a fashion designer to see if his sludge – Plant-FreeTM cellulose – could be the next source of a sustainable fabric. But this was just the beginning; the fabric made from red wine was still brittle, smelly, would fall apart quite easily, and needed to be kept wet...not ideal for daily wear.

It took almost 8 years for him to make his first dress using the Plant-FreeTM cellulose - however it wasn’t without its issues. The material was still brittle and took a whole day just to produce one A5 sheet. By 2015, he had developed the world’s first dress made from beer. The dress took three months to make, and was on show at the 2015 Milan Expo – Textifood exhibition. Gary has since made dresses out of sparkling wine and coconut water, ready for the launch of his company, Nanollose in late 2016.

But the fashion industry isn’t the only area Nanollose is looking at tackling. Gary has found that the Plant-FreeTM cellulose can be used as a medium that can support plant growth. Chefs could use Gary’s fabric to grow herbs and garnishes, without worrying about having grit throughout the dish.

The Plant-FreeTM cellulose also has structural similarities to collagen – a protein that is abundant in the body, and is found in muscles, bones, skin, blood vessels, tendons and the digestive system. It is the foundation on which many organs grow and Gary is currently looking at growing cells on the collagen-like Plant- FreeTM cellulose to potentially revolutionise future medical engineering.

What started off as a mistake in a winery, has lead Gary down a path where he could innovate solutions to problems that could change the world. His curiosity and persistence has driven him to help solve future problems.

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