MALAI, A NEW BIOMATERIAL THAT YOU COULD EVEN EAT
On the road to sustainability, I am continuously researching and testing innovative materials for my handbag and fashion accessories collections. I explore new ways of product development, always with an artisanal approach. My aim is to have full control of the product’s lifespan, from its origin to its inevitable deterioration.
The problems caused by conventional petroleum-based plastics are becoming increasingly evident: high energy and resource consumption, environmental pollution and accelerating climate change should no longer be ignored.
Current research on production and over-consumption leads us to the conclusion that biodegradability can solve the problem of a capitalist system based on the constant search for novelty and the consumption of ephemeral throwaway trends.
But what if production could be environmentally friendly? What if you could use your product, after use, to fertilise plants?
As a designer of D-RAÍZ accessories I try to introduce sustainable materials and procedures in which the whole value chain is actively involved in the different stages of product development. I make a point of integrating design, innovation and new materials into craftsmanship, with slow production methods.
After Piñatex®, I have been introduced to Malai, a bio-composite material made from organic bacterial cellulose. This cellulose is cultivated from agricultural waste from coconut plantations in southern India.
THE BEAUTY OF NATURAL MATERIALS
Inspired by the beauty of natural materials, a small start-up from the Czech Republic works in collaboration with farmers in South India, who provide the waste coconut water, the main resource needed to initiate the growth of the bacterial cellulose, which will eventually be transformed into Malai. They also collaborate with local manufacturing communities, as well as working with suppliers whose ethical approach is transparent and verified.
Did you know that a small coconut processing unit can collect 4,000 litres of water per day, which can be used to make 320 square metres of Malai?
Malai is a flexible and durable biocomposite material with a feel comparable to leather or paper. It is water resistant and because it contains absolutely no artificial compounds, it will not cause allergies, intolerances or diseases. It is a completely vegan product and, as such, you could even eat it!
A product made with Malai will last for many years if properly cared for; however, if you wish to dispose of it, you can simply place it with the compostable waste and it will decompose naturally.