Anke Domaske
2013, Germany
Fashion from milk

This project found a way to produce textile fibers from milk residues. The method does not require chemicals, waste and environmental degradation.

Anke Domaske has developed a method to produce textile fibres from milk leftovers. The procedure is chemical- and waste-free and environmentally sound.

When Anke Domaske’s stepfather was diagnosed with cancer, and his tarnished immune system began reacting allergically to conventional fabrics, they started looking for alternatives. She soon realized that casein, the main component of cheese, was the perfect raw material for textile fibres: The protein is kind to the skin, easy to dye, biodegradable and edible. It also preserves natural resources: 2,000 litres of water go into the production of a single cotton T-shirt, while a kilogram of casein only requires about two litres of water. Moreover, the procedure is not in competition with food production: Casein can be obtained from spoiled milk that would be thrown away otherwise. A technique to produce plastic from casein was already developed in the 1930s, though it required large amounts of formaldehyde. What Domaske devised in her kitchen is a way to keep the procedure free of chemicals. In 2011, the 30-year-old entrepreneur from Hannover founded her company Qmilch, where she wants to produce milk fibres on a larger scale. In order to fund her vision, Domaske collected 5.5 million Euros from various venture capitalists, banks, sponsors and silent partners. Now she is building a pilot plant that can produce thousands of tons of organic fibres a year. And customers are already lining up: “We have 600 requests, mostly from the fashion and home textiles industry”, the founder says.