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A team of
students from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá have taken home the prize for
best ‘vegan wool’ – in a challenge posed to them by PETA, Stray Dog Capital,
and Stella McCartney.

The product

The wool
alternative – dubbed ‘Woocoa’ – is made
from a combination of coconut fibers, hemp, and mushroom enzymes and is fit to
be woven and dyed similarly to real wool.

PETA Director of Corporate Affairs Anne
Brainard described the product as an ‘eco-friendly, biofabricated material that
will satisfy consumers’ – noting that the product is not only good for sheep,
but also the planet.

Sustainability

Woocoa
team member Manuel Ortiz explained that the team drew from the use of over 114
plant fibers in Colombian artisanal crafts to develop their product.

He
added
that the coconut fiber used to make Woocoa would otherwise be an ‘agricultural
waste product’ – making the product an eco-friendly solution to animal
suffering.

Community
benefits

Oritz explained
how mass-production of Woocoa could benefit Colombian communities – noting that
it ‘generates job opportunities in Colombia and can help mitigate the
environmental impact from the textile industry’.

He said
also that ‘hemp could be grown as a replacement of illegal crops on areas that
were afflicted by the internal conflict with the rebel group FARC’ – allowing this team, and Woocoa, to give back to the nation and its people.

Emily Court

Emily Court is a writer and content creator published in Plant Based News, Raise Vegan, Living Vegan and The Financial Diet. A self-described "recovering vegan hothead," she is now a pragmatic member of Vancouver's vibrant and growing plant-powered community. Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, she holds a BA in Spanish and certificate in Intercultural Communication from Dalhousie University, where her thesis focused on topics of cultural and gender-based discrimination. She aims to apply a privilege-conscious...