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2 Sisters Are Recycling CO2 to Create Sustainable Textiles

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

“Our vision is a world where human prosperity and economic growth is planet positive.”

The fashion industry releases 1.7 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. This industry alone makes up 10% of all human-made greenhouse gas emissions. But fashion isn’t going anywhere fast, especially fast fashion. So, what can we do?

That’s the question two sisters asked and answered after discovering a way to recycle CO2 released by fashion industry production and turning it back into clothing. Meet Neeka and Lelia Mashouf, co-founders of Rubi – a company that creates textiles made 100% from carbon emissions.

The sisters are nieces of the lifestyle brand, Bebe’s, founder. They saw the fashion industry and business models up-close from a young age and have recycled that knowledge to create a potentially planet-altering solution to the waste produced by a massive industry.

Neeka, who’s always had an interest in sustainability and climate, published a paper at age 15 on artificial photosynthesis (a clean energy alternative where light is used to convert CO2 into organic matter). Leila has worked in bioengineering research labs since she was a teenager, working to unlock treatments for brain cancer. “I found myself really wanting to understand the biological systems that evolved to build carbon-based life, and how you could take inspiration across nature and engineer intelligent systems of biology that could solve human problems.”

Business + bioengineering = a powerful background for innovating sustainable solutions. With this foundation, Neeka and Leila have as-far-as-the-eye-can-see visions of what is possible. This has allowed them to innovate production solutions in one of the biggest climate crisis industries – fashion.

To put it in a nutshell (or should I say at test tube), Rubi’s patented process creates viscose (one of the 3rd largest textiles used in the fashion industry) by capturing the very carbon emitted by fashion production and turning it into cellulose which is then converted into viscose – all with 100% zero waste. Viscose is a material that’s made by combining wood pulp from trees and bamboo. Typically, in textile work, this material is made into textile-fine threads by treating it with chemicals and spinning it into fibers. But with Rubi’s process, the chemical treatments and waste are skipped and the source of viscose comes by recycling one of the major fossil fuels hurting the planet.

This could also mean that Rubi’s carbon emission creations could be used to produce sustainable building materials, shipping, and packaging! These sisters are really out to change the planet. Discover their story here.



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