Getting out of the shower and pulling on a bunch of crab shells really doesn’t sound like fun. But what if you could do that, and have it look like any other athletic-style shirt? Bonus: the shirt is naturally antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial, so if you really hate doing laundry, you can stay fresh a little longer. A company in Alaska, Tidal Vision, is doing something really interesting with the tons of byproducts from the fishing industry. Chitoskin shirts, made from crab and shrimp shells, are just one of their innovative products. Wallets and belts made out of fish leather are another.
Tidal Vision is using new technologies to add value to fisheries that are already trying to be sustainable. By giving them a way to reduce waste, they can benefit from the upcycling of their byproducts—like fish skin and crab shells. Tidal Vision was founded in Alaska, where two billion pounds of fishery byproducts such as skins, bones, and shells are dumped into the ocean annually.
Founder and CEO Craig Kasberg said, “I grew up in a coastal community in Southeast Alaska, where we rely on ocean sustainability for our food, culture, traditions, and economy. I have been working on commercial salmon, halibut, and crab boats since I was 15 years old. My love for the sea started at a young age, in part I’m sure, to growing up how I did.”
The idea for Tidal Vision, Kasberg continues, didn’t come by looking for a way to make textiles. Instead, it came from looking at the byproducts the seafood industry dumps into the ocean and wondering how we could use that waste for something better. Fish skin leather—or “aquatic leather”—is just one way to upcycle the waste. The leather is used to make wallets, cell phone holders, and belts, but in the future, they hope to team up with craftsmen to bring a limited edition of shoes, boots and more.
Tanning fish leather isn’t easy. According to the Tidal Visions website, the first step in the 24-step “proprietary tanning formula” includes removing all the scales and natural fish oils from the salmon skins. Then a “secret blend” of natural vegetable-based tanning oils take the fish oils place and the tanning process begins. This process produces the highest durability while ensuring that the coloring, natural (silver), or brown (shown above), is absorbed all the way through the salmon hide.
Chitosan (pronounced Kyte-Oh-San) is the material extracted from crab and shrimp shells. Rather than coat a garment with the material, Chitoskin incorporates it right into the threads, creating a stronger and naturally odor-resistant fabric.
Kasberg said that using our ocean’s resources to their fullest potential is huge. No one likes waste. “It is a shame that billions of pounds is ground up and dumped into the ocean annually,” he said. ” But, reducing waste alone isn’t enough to excite me. I wanted to encourage sustainable fishing, and promote sustainable fishing with our products.” Tidal Vision isn’t stopping at just making products out of seafood waste. There are environmental remediation uses for the mining industry for which our Chitosan extraction method can open the doors.
Images and video via Tidal Vision USA