Two Eco-friendly Fabrics

While doing an article for work about organic fabrics I realized I could also feature some information I got since I haven’t finished yet with the different popular fabrics. I think I was just able to feature cotton, polyester and poly cotton blend. And there is so much more to feature.

Anyway, what we have here are some of the eco-friendly fabrics which are now becoming so popular. Sustainable fashion or eco-fashion is the term used for the type of fashion which aims to create a system where products are created and produced while consideration is given to the environmental and social impact it may have in the long-run. Where being environmentally- aware then was to donate to eco orgs, fashion designers now are more conscious. They now seek to find environmentally friendly materials to use as well as ecologically correct methods and process for production.

According to experts, sustainable fashion does not simply mean products made from eco-friendly materials. There are other things to consider such as the renewability of the product, the ecological foot print of the resources and how many chemicals are used to make it ready for the market. It’s hard to know these things though so it is important to read and research more on this if you are really interested to make a change in your fashion sense.

Here are 2 fabrics that you might want to consider getting and using for your own clothing. Or check out the clothing you’re buying to see what it is made of. You can see the comparison of the conventional and organic version of the fabric.

Linen
Linen is a textile or fabric made from the fibers of the flax plant. Linen is a bast fiber meaning it is derived from the inner bark of the plant stalk.

The process of loosening the long flax fibers from the stalks is called retting (rotting) which can be done with chemicals in water or with dew. Conventional linen uses the faster retting process which is commonly done in rivers, lakes or man-made ponds where leftover water which now contains the chemicals can contaminate water and endanger wildlife. Organic linen is dew-retted which takes longer because it only uses moisture and sunlight.

Conventional linen is less labor intensive and time consuming compared to organic linen but very damaging to the environment. The retting process of conventional linen is not only environmentally damaging but also uses herbicides to control weeds.  Thus, environmentally aware consumers would rather have organic linen though it is more expensive than conventional linen.

Flax (Linum) plant

Flax (Linum) plant

Fiber characteristics
•    Linen is highly absorbent and a good conductor of heat, thus linen fabric feels cool to the touch. It also quickly removes perspiration from the skin.
•    Linen is less likely to cling to the skin and when it billows away it can be dry out and become cool again.
•    Linen is among the strongest of the vegetable fabrics, with 2 or 3 times the strength of cotton. It is very durable and is stronger wet than dry.
•    Linen is very smooth and good quality linen finish fabric is lint free and it also becomes softer with washing.
•    Linen have high natural luster and natural color ranges between shades of ecru, ivory but bleaching can create pure white linen.
•    Linen wrinkles easily because it has poor elasticity, it is better to iron it when damp. It actually requires ironing to maintain perfect smoothness.
•    Linen is easy to care for because it resists stains and dirt. It can be dry-cleaned, machine-washed or steamed but it should not be dried too much by tumble drying.
•    Linen is resistant to moths and carpet beetles but mildew, perspiration and bleach can easily damage the fabric.

Some products made with linen: apron, bags, towels (swimmers, bath, beach, body and wash towel), napkins, bed linen, linen tablecloth, runners, chair cover, man and woman wear.

Bamboo
Bamboo is botanically categorized as a grass and not a tree is probably the most sustainable resource in the world today. It grows very fast and can even shoot up a yard or more a day. It matures really quickly and is ready for harvesting in about 4 years. It is self-regenerating, meaning that every year it can be cut a few feet above ground and they grow back ready for the next year’s harvest. It does not need irrigation system, poisonous pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. It does not require replanting because its immense root network constantly sprouts new shoots into new growth. It also does not even require heavy industrial equipment to harvest and transport.

While bamboo the grass is sustainable, bamboo the fabric is not that easy to categorize. There are even controversies about how eco-friendly it really is. There are actually 2 ways to process bamboo into a fabric: mechanically or chemically. The mechanical process is almost like producing linen fabric from flax wherein the woody parts of the bamboo is crushed and using natural enzymes to break the bamboo walls into a soft mass so that the natural fibers can be mechanically combed out and spun into yarn. The bamboo fabric made from this mechanical process is sometimes called bamboo linen although only very little is produced through this process as it is more labor intensive and costly.

On the other hand, chemically produced bamboo fiber which is a regenerated cellulose fiber is similar to rayon and thus called bamboo rayon because of the manufacturing similarities as well as similarities in its feel. Conventional and eco-aware designer and consumers love the fiber characteristics such as these about the chemically-manufactured bamboo fiber.

Bamboo

Bamboo

Fiber characteristics
•    Bamboo yarns are soft and luxurious and can be an alternative to knitting with cashmere or other super-soft animal fibers.
•    Bamboo fabric is soft and non-irritating or hypo-allergenic even to sensitive skins making it ideal for baby clothes. Although there are also cases of some people, especially those with chemical sensitivities, who cannot tolerate bamboo clothing.
•    Bamboo fabric has a natural sheen and softness and drapes beautifully similar to silk but less expensive and more durable.
•    Bamboo clothing is easy to care for, easy to launder in washer and dryer.
•    Bamboo is highly absorbent and has wicking properties 3 or 4 times faster than cotton. It keeps wearer drier, cooler and more comfortable because it does not stick to the skin.
•    Bamboo fabrics are breathable and thermal regulating than cotton, hemp, wool or synthetic fabrics. Meaning it’s good for all seasons, breathable in warm weather while keeping wearer warm during cool weather.
•    Bamboo clothing is more wrinkle-resistant than cotton and though it still needs ironing after washing it can be ironed at lower temperature than cotton.
•    Bamboo fabric does not need to be mercerized to improve luster or its ability to absorb dye faster as compared to cotton.
•    Bamboo clothing is 100% biodegradable.

Some products made with bamboo: shirts, skirts, socks, underwear, furniture, floors, paper, plates, sheets, towels, plates, bowls, spoons, kitchen utensils, keyboards, cleaning wipes…practically enough items to outfit an entire house made with bamboo everything.

This are just 2 of the now increasing number of eco-friendly fabrics. We will talk about soy, organic cotton, nettle, hemp, silk and others in the next blogs or so.

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One response to “Two Eco-friendly Fabrics

  1. This is a good news for environmentalist especially those who are conscious of their impact on the environment through the clothes they are wearing. These two eco-friendly fabrics are just great to wear for by using these fabrics we are not just providing ourselves comfortable clothing but also providing the next generation with plenty of resources through these eco-friendly fabrics. Great!

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