Technical details
Open Accordion
Size + fit
Open Accordion

We shot the Plant and Algae T Shirt on trail runner, swimmer and surfer Aljoscha Fábregas who is 6ft 1 / 185cm with a 31 inch waist and wearing size medium. The t shirt has a slightly more relaxed fit than our Carbon Fibre T Shirt and Planet Earth T Shirt.

For more advice on sizing, check our size guide or ask us for help with sizing. And don’t worry if you order something and it doesn’t fit – we have a free, no hassle 30 day return and exchange period.

XSSMLXLXXL
Fits chest83-9091-9899-106107-114115-122123-130
Fits waist71-7676-8181-8686-9191-9696-101
XSSMLXLXXL
Fits chest33-3636-3939-4242-4545-4848-51
Fits waist28-3030-3232-3434-3636-3838-40
Plant and Algae T Shirt | Available at vollebak.com

Life on Earth would be very different without algae

Made up of over 75,000 different species, algae includes everything from giant underwater kelp forests and seaweed, to phytoplankton and green pond slime. But without algae, life on Earth may not even exist. Not only does it produce 50 – 80% of the oxygen on the planet, but 3.5 billion years ago it was the cyanobacteria found in algae that led to the ‘Great Oxygenation Event’ that helped create life itself. 3 billion years later, shallow freshwater algae became the source of all plant life on Earth, including the trees that make this t shirt.

Plant and Algae T Shirt | Available at vollebak.com

Algae may even hold the key to leaving our planet

Having played its role in populating Earth, it looks like algae might also hold the key to humanity surviving off it. Providing algae can grow in microgravity – something being tested on the International Space Station – it looks set to help create the fuel, food and oxygen we would need for interplanetary travel. So having already put man-made materials like graphene and carbon fibre into clothing, we wanted to start the journey of getting algae into clothing too. You can think of algae as a space age material that’s 1.5 billion years old.

Plant and Algae T Shirt | Available at vollebak.com

We grow our algae in bioreactors

Algae is so successful because it only needs light, carbon dioxide and water to grow at high speed. It can colonise lakes in a day, and algal blooms in the sea and lakes can reach such vast proportions that they are visible from space. It spreads in running water, ocean currents, wind, or even by hitching a ride on the side of boats. And it’s this adaptability that makes it straightforward to grow in a lab. So rather than growing in oceans or lakes, our algae is grown in bioreactors. It’s simply placed in water then given light and carbon dioxide to grow.

Plant and Algae T Shirt | Available at vollebak.com

We then print the algae onto the t shirt

To turn algae into a printable ink we use the same technique used in Kenya to create algae cake. Instead of passing lake water through a cotton net, we pass water from the bioreactor through a filter. This process separates the algae, leaving a soupy algae paste. This paste is then dried in the sun to create a fine powder, and this powder is mixed with a water-based binder to make algae ink.

Plant and Algae T Shirt | Available at vollebak.com

We’ve left the t shirt raw and used algae instead of dye

Instead of using dye, we’ve left the Plant and Algae T Shirt it in its raw state. This off-white is simply the colour of fibres that have been made from tree pulp. We’ve then used algae to print the front of the t shirt and the washing instructions inside. While algae comes in reds, oranges, bright blues and purples, we’ve used a green algae called spirulina. As we look for alternatives to chemical dyeing, the natural pigments produced by algae in the form of carotenoids and chlorophylls look like one of the most sustainable substitutes.

Plant and Algae T Shirt | Available at vollebak.com

The algae on your t shirt will change colour over time

Algae can’t survive once it’s removed from water, so the algae on the t shirt is no longer alive. And because it started life as a plant rather than a chemical dye, the natural pigment in algae is more sensitive and won’t behave like colour normally does on clothing. As soon as it comes into contact with air it starts to oxidise, which means the green will begin to change colour and your t shirt may look different from one week to the next as it fades.

Plant and Algae T Shirt | Available at vollebak.com

How to look after the algae

Even though the algae on every t shirt will be a slightly different colour, the care instructions are the same. To make the algae last for as long as possible we recommend hand washing the t shirt in cold water with as little detergent as possible. Eventually the colour of the algae will be almost the same colour as the t shirt itself.

Plant and Algae T Shirt | Available at vollebak.com

The t shirt is made out of pulped eucalyptus and beech

The t shirt is made from wood pulp from sustainably managed forests. Eucalyptus, beech, spruce are chipped and pulped, before being turned into fibre, then yarn and finally fabric. All the wood is harvested from sustainable forestry plantations and certified by both the Forestry Sustainability Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Representing over 700 million acres of certified forests, the PEFC is the largest forest certification system in the world.

Plant and Algae T Shirt | Available at vollebak.com

It’s produced using a closed loop production process

The wood is turned into fabric using an environmentally responsible and closed loop production process. In practice this means that over 99% of the water and solvent used to turn pulp into fibre is recycled and reused. And on the Higg MSI scoring system which measures the impact of producing a kilogram of fibre – taking into account fossil resource depletion, water scarcity, eutrophication and global warming – this fabric scores 10 against cotton’s score of 60. Our eventual aim is to score 0.

Plant and Algae T Shirt | Available at vollebak.com

Just bury it in the ground when you’re finished with it

Everything has a lifespan, from a plant to the Roman empire. When you decide your t shirt has reached the end of its life you have a couple of options. You can put it out with the compost, or you can dig a hole in the soil and bury it. Once you’re done, nature will do the rest and start breaking it down and turn it into worm food.

Plant and Algae T Shirt | Available at vollebak.com

The t shirt is fully biodegradable

As it’s made entirely from plants and algae the t shirt is fully biodegradable and compostable. The speed at which the biodegrades depends on the environment you put it in. The hotter the conditions, and the more bacteria and fungi it’s exposed to, the faster it will disappear. So while industrial composting will be the fastest, with home composting it will take around 8 weeks. If you bury it in the ground in soil you’re looking at around 12 weeks. The t shirt that starts its life in nature is literally designed to end up there too.

Plant and Algae T Shirt | Available at vollebak.com

The Plant and Algae T Shirt lasts as long as any regular t shirt

The Plant and Algae T Shirt feels like a normal t shirt when you wear it. It’s not going to start biodegrading if you go for a run or hang it up to dry. It’ll only start to biodegrade when you bury it in the ground or put it in the compost. It needs the fungus, bacteria and heat from the Earth to start to break down. If you want it to biodegrade you have to bury it in the ground.

Plant and Algae T Shirt | Available at vollebak.com

The t shirt is soft and light and feels like well-worn cotton

While we use carbon fibre and ceramics to build the world’s toughest t shirts, the Plant and Algae T Shirt isn’t remotely tough, and it isn’t designed to be. It’s really light and soft. And while it’s highly technical to create, you won’t feel like you’re wearing a technical t shirt. You can think of it as the sustainable alternative to your most comfortable, well-worn cotton t shirts. It’s light on a run, looks at home on the beach, and will stay cool on a day hiking in the mountains.

Plant and Algae T Shirt | Available at vollebak.com

What the future of sustainable clothing will look like

The future of sustainable clothing is likely to be based on the same principles as this t shirt. It needs to be grown with as little environmental impact as possible. The easier it is to understand the better. And it shouldn’t require huge amounts of effort. The only thing different about this t shirt is that it grew in soil and water, and that’s where it’s designed to end up too. All you need to do is remember to compost it at the end of its life. Here it will biodegrade with them, turn into soil, and help new plants to grow.

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