Natural Plant Fibers for the Sustainable Manufacture of Clothing
In the past, the few garments a person owned would fit in a small wardrobe closet. A coat for winter, a few shirts, and a couple of pairs of pants or dresses. Clothes were brushed clean or washed very infrequently and shoes were polished. Today, we have several colors of the same shirt or pants and overflowing walk-in closets. Many consumers act as though clothing is disposable.
The world population is rising as we continue to grow mass quantities of cotton and spin fossil fuels into mountains of synthetic fabrics. The fashion industry must use more sustainable fibers as consumers rethink their clothing needs and how to convince global clothing chains to be more proactive.
Clothing companies are focusing on using sustainable fiber rather than reducing inventory; modernizing their brands through environmental performance, health, safety, and community engagement for sustainable vendors in the supply chain.
They are further encouraging the use of line drying clothes to save on energy costs while producing plant fibers from crops that use less water and pesticides to cultivate as well as spinning recycled plastic bottles into fabrics. It is becoming a global initiative as certain textiles influence the fashion industry evolution.
5 Main Textiles
- Cotton uses a lot of water to grow but it is preferred for its durability, comfort, and breathability. Experiments for blending other fibers like hemp, jute, and flax with cotton will reduce the footprint of cotton clothing for more sustainability in production.
- Hemp is strong and grows quickly without excessive water or pesticides. It does not dye as well and has a rougher look and feel, but manufacturers are working on textures more like denim. The U.S. laws regarding hemp production need to be relaxed, but jute has similar qualities and is the popular option.
- Bamboo was considered “sustainable” but the fibers spun from it required so many solvents that it became a virtually synthetic fabric. Other plant fibers will need to replace it.
- Synthetic fabrics experience less patent litigation today which supports the move toward more environmentally friendly textiles. Some of this change is due to companies sharing ideas and innovation.
- Recycled fabrics are now a large focus of the textile industry to conserve resources and improve recycling technology. Closed-loop processes used by carpet manufacturers need to become the standard. The materials used must be non-toxic, safe for workers to handle, and safe for the consumer. This makes companies work harder to produce products that are eco-friendly.
Reclaimed textiles start at the beginning of the supply chain using materials like recycled fishing nets and other unwanted materials generated into yarns for use as fabric. The clothing can be recycled again and continue a captive recycling process.
The right selection of plant fibers produces “green” clothing and a sustainable environment. As forward thinking individuals buy new clothing, they may want to find out their favorite retailers’ policies on recycling and repurposing during the manufacturing process.
This entry was posted on Friday, December 30th, 2016 at 2:06 pm and is filed under All Natural, Clothing, Go Green, Plant Fiber. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.