Anke Damaske, founder of Qmilk.

Spinning fashion from milk

Do chemically untreated fibers exist? They do, and one of them is made from milk. Qmilk’s journey started when Anke Damaske turned her kitchen into a lab, with equipment bought in a grocery store for about €200. The result is a natural, renewable material, easy to wash and as soft as silk.

QMilk produces textile fibre from milk that can no longer be used. The idea came about when German designer Anke Domaske, who had also studies microbiology, thought of developing a biopolymer containing the protein casein. Casein is the protein that makes up about eighty percent of the protein in raw milk. Only in Germany, 1.9 million tonnes of milk is thrown away every year, which is a shame as the raw material still contains valuable ingredients with great potential for technical purposes.

In QMilk’s method, the waste milk is heated, combined with ingredients such as beeswax, and spun into thread. The resulting textile has a smooth surface, suitable for sensitive skin. When it comes to feel, QMilk can be compared with silk. This material is versatile and can be used in apparel, home textiles such as couches or antibacterial beds, and in technical fabrics. It is a hundred percent natural, odorless, washable and dries twice as fast as cotton.

As for the water use during production, a maximum of two liters of water is needed to produce one kilogram of fibre. Compared to cotton this is a very small amount of water. In cotton production, it can take up to 20,000 liters to create one kilogram of textile.

« Qmilk is as soft as silk, antibacterial and suitable for sensitive skin »

Milk proteins have been processed into textiles before, in the 1930s, but it was a chemically-intensive process. Qmilk aims for zero waste and a transparent production chain.

As for the water use during production, a maximum of two liters of water is needed to produce one kilogram of fibre. Compared to cotton this is a very small amount of water. In cotton production, it can take up to 20,000 liters to create one kilogram of textile.

Using milk is in itself not a given – livestock and their byproducts account for 51 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Methane has global warming potential and reducing methane emissions would create immediate benefits. And not to forget, approximately a thousand litres of water is required to produce one litre of milk.

But if it’s here, it should be used to its fullest potential. If we’re facing a future where milk revolutionizes the fashion industry remains to be seen. Regardless, milk fibres are a sustainable solution and provide new ways of challenging an already existing process, turning waste into resources and making use of what’s already here.

Visit QMilk here

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