Sustainable Products from Harmful Species

By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Professor, Texas Tech University, USA

(Lubbock, USA, May 12, 2024)—Sustainable fashionable goods can be produced from invasive harmful species.

Located in Tampa, Florida INVERSA is working to safeguard the environment by generating useful and sustainable goods from non-native invasive species. INVERSA was founded in 2022 by two brothers and a schoolmate, a typical American business success story in information technology and biotechnology.

Invasive species such as lionfish, dragonfin, and Python endanger native fish and other organisms in the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi River, and Florida Everglades. Invasive species cause the extinction of 60% of important species.

In the summer of 2011, brothers Kahan and Aarav Chavda visited Lubbock while attending high school in Dallas and conducted brief summer study on cotton nonwovens in our Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory at Texas Tech University. The results of the brief study were presented as a poster at the 2011 TAPPI conference in Atlanta. The scientific curiosity that began during the trip blossomed throughout higher education, leading to the formation of the start-up.

In addition to these two high school students, Ronald Kendall, Jr., and Luke Kitten, from Lubbock participated in the study that involved my postdoctoral research, Utkarsh Sata. Ronald Kendall and Luke Kitten have become entrepreneurs, which is pleasing to report.

Chavda brothers co-founded INVERSA with school mate Roland Salatino which is using the skin of the invasive species to develop shoes, handbags, and other fashion products.

“We are excited to bring new fashion and advanced materials,” stated Aarav Chavda. Individual Lionfish lays about 6 million eggs per year, which kills small fish, and supports the growth of algae suffocating coral reefs, added Aarav Chavda. In speaking to me, Aarav stressed the importance of sustainable materials to positively impact the world.

Start-ups like INVERSA are endeavoring to save our planet by protecting native species. More importantly, they convert invasive species to fashion goods resulting in net positive effect on consumers.

Acquiring the materials for large scale production may be difficult, but we have been successful, stated Aarav Chavda.

“Ecosystem protection resonates well with the consumers and the reception for our products has been exciting,” stated Aarav Chavda.

INVERSA’ s mission is “sustainable fashion can heal the world.”

It is pleasing to see how research initiation happened to high school students at the Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory, Texas Tech University is spearheading start-up culture in sustainable products.

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