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Consumer Products


Ecofriendly skivvies with benefits

by Marc S. Reisch
November 3, 2019 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 97, Issue 43


Dressing the milky way

A cartoon of a baby crying over spilled milk.
Credit: Will Ludwig/C&EN/Shutterstock
Stop crying over spilled milk: Make it into a fiber and wear it instead.

Your mother may have told you not to cry over spilled milk, but if you are all grown up, it’s perfectly OK to be downright livid over the global waste of milk. So why not wear it instead?

At least that’s the advice of Mi Terro Global, a Los Angeles–based start-up that describes itself as being “at the intersection of innovation, fashion, and eco-friendliness.” Mi Terro’s latest offering is the Limitless Milk Shirt, a T-shirt it describes as “the world’s first and only shirt made from upcycled milk.”

To get its environmentally responsible T-shirt and boxer shorts off to a good start, Mi Terro appealed for support on the social media fundraising site Kickstarter. Rather than see bad milk go down the drain, 354 backers pledged nearly $28,000 in August to launch the milk undergarment. A $35 pledge, for instance, entitled the donor to one T-shirt.

Mi Terro knows that the world is awash in milk gone bad. University of Edinburgh scholars told British tabloid the Guardian last year that globally, 116 million metric tons of milk annually goes to waste.

Still, the ecofashionable firm acknowledges that sour milk isn’t exactly an appealing starter. But Mi Terro says its suppliers extract the protein casein, which by the way has a pleasant odor, from otherwise spoiled milk and extrude it into a silky fiber that it claims has antibacterial properties.

However, Mi Terro isn’t the first to go fashion forward with sour milk. In the late 1930s, Italy’s Snia Viscosa made and sold a casein fiber processed with formaldehyde. Milk clothing made back then with Snia’s Lanital fibers was a fashion rage.

Mi Terro says makers of its milk fiber eschew formaldehyde, but the firm doesn’t reveal what other chemicals they use. The milk shirt also contains micromodal, a type of chemically processed wood fiber, and elastane, a stretchy polyurethane fiber.

Still, there’s that milk component of Mi Terro’s underwear that’s sure to delight desperately chic ecoconscious consumers.


More underwear that’s fun to wear

A cartoon of underwear made out of seaweed.
Credit: Will Ludwig/C&EN/Shutterstock
Green with envy: The environmentally chic can now buy underwear made with seaweed.

If you are committed to environmentally friendly underwear, you might also consider sustainable intimate wear made from seaweed.

At the end of July, the Germany-based supermarket chain Lidl introduced men’s and women’s sustainable undies, priced at about $6.50 a pair and made with SeaCell fiber. A product of German technology firm Smartfiber, SeaCell is just 4% seaweed; the rest is wood fiber. The Lidl tops and briefs made with SeaCell also contain cotton and elastane.

But seaweed is not just any old renewable resource, says Smartfiber, because it protects skin against “harmful environmental influences” and is rich in vitamins, minerals, and other substances that the company claims can help “relieve skin diseases, reduce inflammation and soothe itchiness.”

Lidl skivvies wearers, let the Newscripts gang know if they work for you.

Marc Reisch wrote this week’s column. Please send comments and suggestions to


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