Through a partnership among PETA US, investment firm Stray Dog Capital, and Stella McCartney Ltd., the 2018 Biodesign Challenge for university students will include the first-ever prize for Animal-Free Wool, which seeks a biofabricated vegan wool.
Participating schools include the University of Sydney, Arizona State University, Drexel University, the Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons School of Design, University of California, Davis, the University of British Columbia, just to name a few.
Today’s wool industry devastates the environment and leaves gentle sheep bloody and broken in shearing sheds. The Biodesign Challenge award will both inspire and equip young designers to develop a sustainable material that spares animals suffering.
“Biodesign aims to create a new kind of beauty in nature” and “couples entrepreneurial energy & imagination” -Daniel Kevles #BDCSummit2017
— Biodesign Challenge (@Biodesigned) June 22, 2017
The Biodesign Challenge connects design students with biotech professionals to develop new inventions. Each of the more than 30 universities that participate in the Biodesign Challenge holds a competition at the school level, and the winners from each school head to New York City to showcase their designs and compete at the national level.
The prize will be awarded in June 2018 to the team that explores and/or develops proofs of a concept for a sustainable biomaterial that could replace animal wool. The student teams should take into consideration the material’s lifecycle, production processes, disposal, and potential for recycling. The teams should also explore how the biomaterial manufacturing process might scale up to be compatible with or even propel today’s garment industry.
PETA has released six exposés recorded at 39 wool-producing facilities on three continents -including Australia – that have all revealed that sheep are mutilated, abused, and skinned alive in the international wool industry. Shearers are typically paid by volume and not by the hour, which encourages fast, violent work. The wool industry also produces massive amounts of methane, erodes the soil, and contaminates waterways.
What You Can Do
You don’t have to be a design student to speak out for animals abused and killed for their wool. Help stop the cruelty endured by sheep and lambs in the wool industry by clicking the button below, and if a garment says “wool,” leave it on the shelf.