"QMilk takes a highly innovative approach to repurposing a waste stream that is seen in every country in the world."
-Anke Domaske, CEO and Founder of QMilk
I love milk. I always have. If I could drink it all day every day, I would. Despite my unequivocal obsession with the udder-ly delicious beverage, I admit that I'm repulsed by the thought of milk-gone-bad. I automatically associate it with the word "sour". The smell, the taste, even the mere memory of tasting moldy milk brings about a visceral reaction that leaves me wary of dairy.
Until I heard about QMilk.
QMilk is a German-based company that transforms "surplus milk unfit for human consumption" into a "new casein-based fiber as a bio-textile replacement for cotton" (LAUNCH). Brainchild of designer Anke Domaske, QMilk was created in response to the unneccesary waste of inedible milk. According to Advanced Textile Source, Germany's dairy industry annually discards upwards of 2 million tons of milk that fail to pass food regulatory standards. The true irony of this inefficient system is that people have recognized the applications of soured milk's central protein from as early as the 14th century! From the usage of casein-based paints in 14th and 15th century churches to the utilization of casein fibers to compensate for the shortage of wool during World War II, casein has been a useful resource throughout multiple historical milestones.
So with the help of history, Domaske brought this innovative question to the table: Why not bring milk casein fibers to the sustainability movement? By acknowledging the wasteful practices of traditional cotton production, Domaske wanted to use a higher-quality alternative that was ecologically, economically, and socially responsible. Through intensive trial and error in the laboratory, Domaske and her team finally came up with a method for milk fiber production that drastically cuts down on water consumption and is extremely time efficient. (The Triple Helix). This method essentially comes down to feeding a large machine an amalagation of natural materials, including of course, recycled milk. As a result, the machine dispenses the milk casein fiber, which can subsequently be "spun rough for a heavier texture or spun smooth into a soft jersey." Trademarking this versatile cloth as QMilk, Domaske decided to bring milk fibers to the fashion world with her line, Mademoiselle ChiChi.
As exemplified by the line Mademoiselle ChiChi, milk fibers can be used to make beautiful and fashion-forward pieces of art. So next time you see that your milk's expiration date is long gone, be cognizant of its possibilities in the fashion industry.