Why you should be wearing natural fibre products
Posted: Mar 20 2017
NATURAL FIBRE CLOTHING
According to recent reports the apparel industry is now consuming twice as much fibre as it did 25 years ago which is having a massive impact on our environment.
The use of synthetic fibres and our fast fashion culture means that around 350,000 tonnes of clothing (£140 million worth) ends up in landfill every year in the UK alone.
Below we look at which fibres you could be using to help reduce your impact on the environment.
Cotton is the most commonly used natural fibre. It is super soft, breathable and affordable. On the downside side of this and although cotton is better than synthetics, it does have a negative impact on the environment as it takes 20,000 litres of water to make one kilogram of cotton. It also uses high levels of pesticides, fertilisers and chemicals that affect the eco system and our health. Typically cotton farmers work in the developing world and aren't always paid a fair living wage. In India, over 400,000 child workers have been reported as working in the cotton industry, many working for 9-12 hours a day.
BETTER ALTERNATIVES TO REGULAR COTTON:
Organic cotton has a much less negative impact on the environment as it is grown without the use of pesticides, fertilisers and chemicals. The main certification to look out for is GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard). GOTS is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria right throughout the supply chain and production process. It has very strict criteria and ensures clothing that states it is organic, is in fact certified organic. The certification also ensures that the standard in which the items are manufactured are at a high standard in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.
Fairtade certified cotton ensures that the garment can be traced all the way back to the farmer who grew the cotton. To get the Fairtrade certification strict guidelines must be followed. The main things that Fairtrade focuses on are: a fair living wage for everyone in the manufacturing process, health and safety, safe working hours, workers rights and training and to reduce the negative impacts on workers health by controlling the use of chemicals.
Shop Organic/Fairtrade Cotton products HERE
Tencel or Lyocell is a great fibre for clothing as its extremely soft against the skin, breathable and environmentally friendly. Eucalyptus trees are grown in responsibly managed forests and are cut rather than uprooted so the trees grow back quickly. The trees require little water to grow and are typically found on land which is unsuitable for agriculture.
The process of turning the Eucalyptus wood into fibre has minimal impact on the environment. The wood pulp is dissolved in the non toxic chemical Amine Oxide and reduced down into a cellulose viscous solution. This solution is then extruded through fine holes to create the fibre and spun into the fabric.
99% of the chemical, water and waste is reused in the unique closed loop system which minises the impact on the environment and conserves water and energy. The water consumption to make lyocell is 10-20% lower than the manufacturing process for cotton.
Shop Eucalyptus Tencel products HERE
Merino Wool is a fantastic, sustainable fibre which is composed of a natural protein meaning it is biodegradable. The Merino sheep produce a new fleece naturally every year and farmers shear the sheep only in the summer to ensure the animal's comfort, hygiene and mobility.
The brands that we stock ensure that the farming is also responsible and adhere to strict animal welfare standards, fair working conditions for the farmers and factory workers and have in depth environmental programmes to minimise their carbon footprint.
Shop Merino Wool products HERE
Modal fabric is becoming more and more popular in the clothing world due to it's environmentally friendly production and incredible softness.
it is twice as soft as cotton, lightweight and breathable.
Modal is a cellulosic fibre made out of wood from Beech Wood trees. These trees are completely sustainable as they multiply by rejuvenation which means that the trees propagate by themselves rather than having to be planted, and no chemicals are needed.
Lenzing Modal® is produced in an environmentally friendly way with a process called Edelweiss Technology where up to 95% of the production materials are recovered as a result of the innovative environmental processes. Edelweiss technology uses only oxygen based chemistry for the entire production from pulp to fibre and is the only Modal fibre which meets the highest environmental standards and is CO2 neutral.
It also has the lowest consumption of fossil energy (even less than cotton) as the energy required is released within the manufacturing process, meaning no additional energy is needed.
80-90% of the water used for the production of Lenzing Modal® is cooling water which is immediately returned to surface waters without contamination. Consumption of water is also 10-20% less than the production of cotton.
Micromodal® (by the company Lenzing) has been awarded the 'Confidence in Textiles' label by Oeko-Tex®, meaning that it has been successfully tested to be free from harmful substances.
Shop Modal products HERE
We are huge fans and advocates of natural and renewable fibre products, but sometimes we have to use alternatives and Nature Shop do stock some products made with synthetic fibres. Or products that are a mix of both natural and synthetic fibres.
When looking for the products we stock we look at the fibres and fabrics, the quality (only the best will do for NS), the brand and their ethics. There are many things we take into consideration when stocking our products, and sometimes to give our customers the best choice as well as alternatives in cost, we do stock products with synthetics in them. These will be from brands we believe in and who have strong environmental and ethical policies in place.
BETTER ALTERNATIVES TO REGULAR SYNTHETICS:
Although not as good as using natural fibres, recycled polyester is a good alternative to normal polyester as it consumes 70 per cent less energy and is created from recycled plastic bottles. Here at Nature Shop we are all about re-using and recycling, so recycling plastic bottles into sweaters is a great way to reduce the plastic from piling up in landfills.
The Bluesign accreditation is given to fabrics that have reduced the environmental impact over the entire process of producing the final product. Bluesign technologies encourages the textile industry to be as environmentally friendly as possible when producing its products and implement sustainable processes.
To earn the Bluesign accreditation, there is strict criteria to meet in all aspects of the supply chain. You can read about the Bluesign Principles HERE.
Here at Nature Shop we believe it is incredibly important to sell clothing from environmentally and socially responsible brands. If you would like any more information about the products/brands we stock please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: The ethical fashion source future fibres sourcing report, fairtade.org.uk, globalstandard.org, wrap.org.uk