Innovation That Matters

T-shirt uses cabbage to track pollution in the water


To raise awareness of climate change, a team in the UK has developed a t-shirt that changes colour depending on the acidity of the water around it.

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The Cabbage Project has been developed by UK fashion brand The Unseen. It uses the extraordinary powers red cabbage has to create a T-shirt that changes colour depending on the pH levels of the water it is washed in. Take it around the world and your purple t-shirt may change into a green or a red one, dependent on the acidity of the local water. Take it to the Dead Sea and it turns into a yellow T-shirt. The change of colour is made possible by the anthocyanins, water-soluble vacuolar pigments which are contained in red cabbage juice and act as pH indicator.

The Unseen was founded by self-styled ‘alchemist’ and Royal College of Art graduate, Lauren Bowker. This label specialises in bringing together fashion and chemistry “to develop simple visual solutions applicable to everyday complicated and invisible problems, visualizing data by using the primal language of colour change.”

The ocean is getting more acidic. This may not affect humans directly when they go for a swim, but it can have a dramatic affect on marine life, killing off micro-organisms. This is almost certainly related to growing CO2 levels in the atmosphere. The Cabbage Project is a high-fashion solution to raising awareness of this important issue.

Environmental protection is becoming an ever more important topic for the fashion industry and innovative brands, big and small, have been finding ways of protecting or raising awareness through their clothing. For example, we recently covered a trainer made from algae and clothing that uses nano-technology to do away with air-conditioning.

Is ‘green fashion’ a trend that is here to stay? Will customers pay more for sustainable products?



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