Written for the University of Michigan’s One Cool Thing mobile app (08/25/15)
Soft and cozy yarn made from leftover animal parts
Human beings have a long track record of finding uses for most or all of the inedible parts of animals we kill for food, so it may be surprising to learn that today’s slaughterhouses toss out millions of tons of waste per year. Researchers at the Functional Materials Laboratory at ETH Zurich have responded in perhaps the most unexpected way possible. As Gizmodo reports, they spin yarn from the bones and tendons of slaughtered livestock and can now create enough yarn to make a mitten in a matter of hours. The process involves making gelatin from leftover animal parts and then heating and stretching it into very long fibers of gelatin yarn. Currently there are certain limitations to the procedure (the gelatin is water soluble, so some climate conditions could actually take the clothes off your back), but the hope is that the gelatin yarn could help alleviate our unsustainable demand for fabrics. Here’s to wearing our leftovers on our sleeves!