A Glance Into The Kenyan ‘Make It Circular Challenge’ Winner – Redthread Africa

Rethread Africa, is a biomaterials startup that converts agricultural waste into biodegradable textile fabric. Founded by social entrepreneur Charles Oyamo, Rethread Africa was one of the 13 projects that won the Make It Circular Challenge 2022 by What Design Can Do and the IKEA Foundation.

Redthread Africa
Charles Oyamo

Fast fashion is a major cause of the global waste crisis. At the beginning of the century, people used almost half as much clothing and kept them for twice as long. Now, more people are purchasing 60% more clothing and keeping them for half the time. This trend has caused an enormous amount of textile waste, hence the need for sustainable fashion.

Additionally, the rise of the fashion industry has brought about a significant increase in the production and consumption of clothing. This has caused the discarding of an exponential amount of textile waste as loads of textile garbage trucks are exiled to landfills or incinerated daily.

Rethread Africa Sustainable Solution

Redthread Africa is keen on redefining the future of sustainable circular fashion. The company is developing technology that turns agricultural waste into biodegradable textile fabric. Rethread Africa’s fabric uses 99% less water than cotton, reducing CO2 emissions by 80% and eutrophication by 51%. Furthermore, what makes the company stand out is that it uses maize husk residue to make the textile fabric. This process not only helps reduce waste but also enables smallholder farmers to increase their income by 40%.

By using agricultural waste, the company is creating a circular system that works in harmony with nature, providing farmers with an additional income source and enriching the soil.

Currently, Rethread Africa is also developing technology to turn water hyacinth into textile fabric. This helps to control its growth, which would otherwise choke aquatic ecosystems, while also creating a sustainable income source for the communities that live nearby.

Charles Oyamo’s project was the only African entry that made it to the final cut out of the total 650 entries from across the world. According to data from Make It Circular, 10 % of all the entries came from Kenya making it the country with the most submissions for the 2022 edition of the challenge.

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