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Episode 568: Researching Ethical Sustainable Materials ft. Nicole Rawling

By Jasmin and Mariann — November 28, 2020

We’re thrilled to have Nicole Rawling join us on the podcast. Nicole has worked with fashion companies, scientists, and investors worldwide to encourage the development of alternative materials with the aim of replacing animal products. She founded Material Innovation Initiative after identifying the potential of the next-gen materials market through her her work as the Good Food Institute’s Director of International Engagement.

Nicole joins us this week to discuss the role of the Material Innovation Initiative, how it finds viable alternatives to animal-product materials, and why petroleum-based vegan leather isn’t the answer. She offers her tips for avoiding fast fashion while still dressing sustainably and stylishly and shares how to find high-quality, ethical brands that you will last for years. Nicole also shares the most surprising items that have been turned into new wearable leather thus far, from apple skins to mushrooms and even waste from mangos and wine production.

“We’re making the ethical choice the easy choice.”
– Nicole Rawling

This Week in Our Hen House:

  • Nicole’s response to those who say that leather is a byproduct of the meat industry and therefore sustainable
  • The impact of the Rethink Food and Agriculture report and what its findings mean for industrial agriculture
  • The materials in development that Nicole is most excited about
  • The substantial environmental impact of the fashion industry
  • Cruelty issues in the silk industry and the alternatives that the Materials Innovation Institute are exploring
  • Ways for us each to be more ethical in our consumption
  • Why Nicole is so hopeful for the future of alternative materials
  • Why Nicole changed the way she advocates for animals to best use her skills
  • How she envisions the vegan movement as a whole, and Material Innovation Initiative in particular, moving into the future

Connect with Nicole Rawling:

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This episode is brought to you in part through the generosity of A Well-Fed World. A Well-Fed World provides the means for change by empowering individuals, social justice organizations, and political decision makers to embrace the benefits of plant-based foods and farming. Learn more at


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Don’t forget to tune into Our Hen House’s other two podcasts: The Teaching Jasmin How to Cook Vegan Podcast, and The Animal Law Podcast.

The Our Hen House theme song is written and performed by Michael Harren.

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