Mi Terro, a startup based in Los Angeles, aims to draw attention to the amount of waste produced in the dairy industry by creating sustainable fabrics from unused milk. The company sources excess milk from a dairy farm in China before processing it and turning milk into fibers capable of being used in durable, lightweight clothing . “Do you know that 128 million tons of dairy products are dumped every year globally? I am really upset by such a tremendous amount of dairy waste,” Mi Terro founder Robert Luo explains to me, “our goal is to educate the public that we are consuming too many dairy products and we need to cut down on our food waste.” In his bid to tackle the waste from the dairy industry, the sustainable entrepreneur saw an opportunity to upcycle the unused milk that would be thrown out and turn it into a high-quality shirt.
The entire milk-to-clothing process takes about two months to complete with one glass of milk corresponding to five shirts . Mi Terro collects milk from its dairy farm partner, skims it to remove fats before dewatering it to become powdered milk. It is then dissolved and purified to remove and substances that are not casein – the proteins that make up a large proportion of milk. Once the casein is isolated, it is immersed in an alkali solution and passed through a spinneret to solidify the proteins into fibers. After this, it is removed from the alkali solution and the fibers are stretched, spun into yarn and ready to be used in the manufacturing of clothing.