Indian startup creates zero-waste, animal-free vegan cashmere from plants | Totally Vegan Buzz
Indian startup creates zero-waste, animal-free vegan cashmere from plants

Plant-based ‘Weganool’ is 100% sustainable, cruelty-free and the quality is comparable to luxuriant cashmere.

Indian startup Faborg has created Weganool – a vegan alternative to wool derived from a flowering milkweed-like plant called Calotropis.

This wild flowering shrub, which is native to Asia and Northern Africa grows wildly on deserted lands requiring no water, special care or pesticide treatment.

Gowri Shankar, an India-based fashion entrepreneur and Faborg founder said that he was struck by the possibility of converting the Calotropis plant-fiber into textile after casually observing 10 to 15 sunbirds surrounding the plant bush and making a nest using its fiber.

“It really got me thinking if this … natural fiber could be transformed into a textile,” he told media outlet The Better India.

Working on the idea, he said he was finally able to achieve the vegan cashmere fabric perfect for woolens by blending 30% of Calotropis and 70% organic cotton.

Indian startup creates zero-waste, animal-free vegan cashmere from plants

Vegan Cashmere

According to the founder, the plant fiber’s softness and natural shine makes the resulting fabric smooth, velvety and luxurious. It is also lightweight and offers impressive thermoregulating properties.

In addition, since the plant-fiber is foraged from the wild and processed mostly by hand, the fabric scores on being cost-effective, sustainable and a means of livelihood for the local rural communities.

While extracting the fiber from the pods and stems typically leaves a residue, Shankar added that the residual extract is concentrated and converted into a natural fertilizer and pest repellent drawing on the plant’s antifungal and antibacterial properties.

His company sells this bio-fertiliser and pesticide called Arka to farmers helping them practice chemical-free agriculture. 

Way forward

The fabric’s cashmere like texture has attracted a lot of attention. Several brands have also started sourcing this fabric including Germany based organic and vegan children’s clothing brand Infantium Victoria.

In his interview, Shankar said he was open to collaborations with like-minded individuals and businesses in the industry as he was looking to scale operations.

“I want to have a processing unit for Faborg in every 100 km of India wherever the plant is growing. I hope to create a working model for farmers so that they can become self-sufficient. To this network, I want the farmers to realize the real potential of this shrub and how it can improve their incomes,” he said in his interview with Better India.

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