Part 3: Natural Fibres
Eco-friendly fashion is the new mantra. Adopting Eco-friendly attitude to fashion not only helps you to look fabulous but also helps the environment and provides livelihood to small-scale farmers and processors of natural fibres.
Fabrics come from fibres. There are two types of fibres – Natural and Synthetic.
Synthetic fibres are man-made. Examples of synthetic fibres are acrylic, nylon, polyester and polypropylene.
Natural fibres come from plants and animals.
Examples of plant fibres are cotton, jute, hemp, bamboo, linen.
Examples of animal fibres are silk, wool, cashmere, mohair, alpaca.
Why natural -fibre fabrics are good:
- As estimated, 1 million tons of textiles are thrown away each year, from cotton fabrics to synthetic fibres. Synthetic are harmful to the environment because they take longer time to decompose (According to wasteonline.org.uk). Natural fibres are biodegradable.
- Natural fibres are easy on the skin and do not cling to the body.
- They are extremely breathable and soft.
- They are created from natural process and without toxins.
- They are lightweight and provide comfort in all seasons.
- Natural fibres are sustainable at every stage of their life cycle, from production to disposal.
Features of some popular natural plant fibres:
Hemp is the longest, strongest most durable natural fibre known to mankind and has been used for over 12000 years. Hemp does not require herbicides or pesticides, and uses a fraction of water compared to cotton. Hemp as a fabric provides warmth and softness of other natural textiles but with a superior durability which are not found in other materials. Natural hemp fibre is breathable and is biodegradable. Hemp can be easily blended with other fibres to attain desirable qualities of both textiles.
Jute is extracted from the bark of the white jute plant, Corchorus capsularis and to a lesser extent from tossa jute (C. olitorius).
Jute fibre is 100% bio-degradable and recyclable and thus environmentally friendly. Jute is a natural fibre with golden and silky shine and hence called The Golden Fibre. India is one of the largest producers of jute in the world. Jute is one of the most versatile natural fibres that have been used in raw materials for packaging, textiles, non-textile, and agricultural sectors. Nowadays some popular fashion brands incorporate jute blended with other natural fibres in their clothing range.
Bamboo grows in the wild without the aid of fertilizers, herbicide and pesticides. Bamboo fabric is a natural moisture absorbing plant. Moisture is taken from the body, on contact, and then instantly evaporates. A bamboo T-shirt, for example, keeps the skin comfortable, rather than sticky, in summer weather. Like merino wool, Bamboo is cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
Linen is used in big fashion brands. Linen is a fabric made from the fibres of the flax plant. It is a versatile fabric that never goes out of fashion. It is breathable and is very comfortable to wear in warm weather. Some people avoid linen clothing because of its tendency to wrinkle very easily when worn. For this reason, linen clothing should be packed with care when travelling. Linen is still very popular throughout the world today for household use, such as tablecloths, napkins, and curtains, as well as for clothing
So, if you come across stalls in farmers market or weekend market selling natural fabrics and Eco friendly products, do take a notice. Money spent by us on Eco-friendly products and natural fabrics sustains a balance in the environment we live in and provides livelihood and food security to millions of small-scale farmers and processors in developing countries. By choosing natural fibres we boost the sector’s contribution to economic growth and help fight hunger and rural poverty.
If you are interested to know more on natural fibres, types of natural fibres, features and their benefits please refer to – http://www.naturalfibres2009.org/en/index.html.
Bye for now. Best wishes from PetalDew – Nature’s nurture.