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Earth friendly fabrics

By Edited May 13, 2016 2 3
Soft bamboo fabric tee shirt

Fine, soft, breathable bamboo fabric used in a printed tee shirt

The world is resetting its values and fabrics are going earth friendly. Earth friendly fabrics are grown, processed and manufactured with more concern for being biodegradable, creating less waste and being more eco-friendly. Here is some information about the interesting sources that are creating new fabrics these days.

Fabrics are being made out of recycled soda and other plastic bottles. Most of these earth friendly fabrics are made of a polymer called Polyethylene Terephthalate, or PET. PET polymers are popping up all over. For example, you'll find PET polymers in that 'Fleece' you are wearing to keep you cozy in the winter. The great thing about these recycled fabrics is that rather than creating waste, they reduce it!

Terratex, a fabric made from recycled polyester, corn-based "PLA" fibers and sustainable wool is just one more example of man-made recycled fabrics taking a bite out of our trash and converting it into fashion.

Organic wool is making a major come back which is great for a sheep industry that had almost completely turned into a meat producing business. Sheep's wool is now becoming more than a hobby craft and offers wonderful yarn and materials for clothing and home use. Even dyes are more earth friendly these days! The 'hair' sheep must be pleased about this new trend, too!

Organic cotton is special because the normal cotton crop uses enormous quantities of agro-chemicals. Sustainable cotton growing uses biologically sound methods. Organic cotton fabric is just as soft and has all the benefits of regularly grown cotton, without all the chemicals, insecticides and waste.

Bamboo produces a fabric with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. The plant grows very fast and is considered a renewable crop -- defined as a crop that can be fully replenished within a ten year period. Bamboo can be planted to stop soil erosion and it is good for improving soil quality. Since it does not attract many insect pests, it is easy to keep pesticide free. One of the best parts of using bamboo as a cloth fiber is that it is very fine and soft, making it ideal for delicate looking clothing like designer, printed tee shirts and soft fuzzy towels.

Biodegradable leather is showing up in interior designs, furniture, and fashion. Brentano is one company that has developed a Polyurethane based faux leather. They felt it was important to find an alternative to the extremely the toxic, dioxin-releasing vinyl (PVC)usually used for faux materials. Brentano claims their fabrics to be less harmful than real leather both in production and consumption. These polyurethane fabrics use less energy, fewer solvents, and less labor to produce than other leather look-alikes, though they look convincingly like leather.

Sustainable silk is still that wonderful silk we all know and love. There are some companies producing a more expensive material dubbed 'wild silk' that treats the moths more humanely than the usual form of production. Shipping costs still demand oil usage, but for the most part silk can be considered 'green'.

Hemp tends to be a little coarser than many of the new 'green' materials so it is often combined with softer fibers like cotton, silk and recycled polyesters, still staying earth friendly. One of the positive sides of hemp is that almost all parts of the plant can be used to produce organic products of one sort or another so there is no waste. Hemp, like bamboo, is a fast grower.

Soy, too, is being made into fabric.

Industrious companies are finding more and more earth-friendly resources for creating fabric fibers. Seacell, for example is a cellulose fabric with a seaweed base. And there are fabrics made from stinging nettles and cork!

A whole revolution is happening in the world of fabrics. As demand grows, prices will fall and I expect we will be seeing newer and more imaginative sources being used to feed our demands for fabrics.



Oct 26, 2009 10:24am
Thanks for the info. I really want to learn more about Terratex, and organic wool. :)
Nov 1, 2009 8:46pm
Interesting...didn't know there were so many different kinds.
Feb 25, 2011 7:55pm
Interesting read, like Traqqer said, I had no clue there were so many different types.
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