A very common and controversial topic today is the impact of the Textile Industry on the environment.
We know that this is the second most polluting industry in the world, especially because its consumption is exponential. However, there is more awareness about this issue, the people who work in it and the procurement of textiles.
Before starting to delve deeper into the topic, it is important to differentiate between the terms sustainable and sustainable.
By sustainable we mean the balance between ecosystem and community, that is, both the people who work, manufacture or cultivate for the manufacture of textiles deserve decent treatment, quality of life and salary, as well as the awareness of production or processes that are friendly to nature and biodegradable.
On the other hand, sustainability seeks to reduce the environmental impact through strategies, recycling of materials and the consumption of natural resources.
It is important to mention that there is no fiber that is 100% ecological or effective, since the manufacturing process, materials or research are still under development. But they do have a great environmental and social impact.
Below we will mention some sustainable fibers, some with greater and others with less impact, but they are generating a change on the planet and in the industry.
Hemp fiber . A short fiber of plant origin that is one of the most versatile, as it is cool when it is hot and thermal when it is cold. Also, it is durable, resistant, antibacterial, soft to the touch, resistant to UV rays. Furthermore, hemp is a plant that grows quickly, requiring less water than others and a small amount of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or genetically modified seeds.
Illustration: Hemp fiber.
Ground coffee fibers . Had you considered it before? I bet not, mostly because most people throw away the grinder residue after brewing their coffee. However, it can be reused to make fabric if it is combined with polymers.
Precisely, in Taiwan a brand called Singtex is creating a variety of products with this material, from outdoor fabrics to sports equipment or household items used every day, since they are anti-odor, have protection against UV rays and a drying time. fast.
What better way to eliminate waste and at the same time give coffee a second life!
Illustration 1: Ground coffee fiber.
Pineapple fiber. A natural cellulose plant fiber that is extracted from the pineapple leaf through a process called decortication, that is, after being stripped, the fibers are gummed and subjected to an industrial process to become a non-woven fabric giving it a leather appearance better known as Piñatex.
The extraction residue called biomass is used as a natural fertilizer rich in nutrients or as biofuel, so nothing is wasted.
Today it is known as vegan leather, because it does not contain harmful chemicals or animal products. They are also very conscious with agricultural communities, it has antibacterial properties.
Illustration 2: Pineapple fiber.
Banana fiber. It is a fiber of plant origin that is obtained from the stem of the fruit tree, which is mainly composed of cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin.
The thicker, stronger fibers are taken from the outer pods of banana trees, while the inner pods result in softer fibers. In addition, it is one of the strongest natural fibers in the world, since it is very similar to bamboo, resistant, durable, biodegradable and has fineness.
It has multiple uses and applications, as it can be used to make ropes, mats, and fabrics, even purses, beads, or paper. However, the process is expensive and extraction has a high degree of difficulty.
Illustration 3: Banana fiber.
Lotus fiber. In our Western world it is rare, but in other countries like Thailand and Myanmar not so much, on the contrary it is a fiber that has been used for several years.
However, the result of its extraction is still seen as a luxury fabric, since the feel and lustrous appearance is very similar to silk. Despite this, the fiber is stain resistant, light, soft, silky, has excellent quality and is extremely breathable. How can you not love a fiber like this?
Illustration 4: Lotus fiber.
Cactus fiber. It is such a common and everyday natural resource in Mexico that it was transformed into an innovative and popular fabric internationally. Would you have believed it possible?
Indeed, this is a perfect alternative for sustainable textiles and was discovered by two Mexican entrepreneurs called Adrián López Velarde and Marte Zázares , who presented the cactus as a vegan leather called “Desserto Pelle” at the Lineapelle 2019 fair, held in Milan, Italy.
This is free of animal cruelty, toxic, does not need water for cultivation and is partially biodegradable. In addition, it has excellent resistance, elasticity and durability of approximately 10 years, which makes it a candidate to replace animal leather.
Illustration 5: Cactus fiber.
Of course, another alternative is biotextiles, since their manufacture proposes that living organisms (bacteria, fungi and yeasts, among others) or even other materials such as sawdust, lavender or others, function as if they were textile fibers. Of course, they need to be fermented and grown in a laboratory, they can be genetically modified or not, as mentioned in the previous blog. But these are still in research and development.
As you may have seen, there are many sustainable fibers and there are still others to be discovered with the help of research and innovations, there will be new ones.
We still need to look to the future to find a more viable, economical and easy way to market, as they are excellent options and have great potential, but we need to perfect them and find the right way for mass and conscious production.
Did you know any of these fibers or any brand that works with them?
Author | Jimena Chavez
Editorial Web City Cannabis News, (2020) “Cotton or hemp, which textile is more environmentally friendly?” Retrieved on July 28, 2021 at https://ciudadcannabis.com/news/estilo-de-vida/algodon-o-canamos-cual-textil-es-mas-amigable-con-el-medioambiente/
Image 1: Brones Anna, (2017) “Upcycled Coffee Textiles: Out Of The Garbage Can And Into The Dyer” in SPRUDGE retrieved on July 28, 2021 at https://sprudge.com/can-you-wear-the- coffee-you-drink-125116.html
Image 2: Hirsh Sophie, (2020) “These Companies Are Making Vegan Leather Out of Plants Instead of Plastic” in Greenmatter retrieved on July 28, 2021 in
Image 3: Dolors Massot, (2017) “The branches of the banana tree give a flexible, ecological and very resistant fabric. And the nettles would surprise you..." in Aletei recovered on July 28, 2021 at https://es.aleteia.org/2017/11/24/en-el-futuro-vestiremos-con-fibra-de-banano /
Image 4: Ortega, Alez, (2015) “Lotus flower fiber” in Alex Style retrieved on July 28, 2021 at http://alexisortegazafra.blogspot.com/2015/04/flor-de-loto-una- new-textile-fiber-que.html
Image 5: Criterio noticas, (2020) “Mexicans triumph in Milan, they imitate leather with Nopal fiber” recovered on July 28, 2021 at https://criterionoticias.com/triunfan-mexicanos-en-milan-imitan-piel- with-nopal-fiber/