How Natural Fibres are Improving the Textile Sustainability

natural fibres

The usage of natural fibres has significantly increased in past few years. The reason behind this urge is an increasing awareness and vision of consumer about environment and climate.  In past few years, the sustainable developments in textile and apparel industry compelled manufacturers to produce eco-friendly products. The harmful effects of man-made fibres (acrylic, polyester, spandex and nylon) on environment and shortage of highly used resource (cotton) enforced authorities to conceive something new. As the current organic farming output couldn’t fulfil the present requirements of the industry. So, the industry professionals have to search out some other substitutes which could give the consumers same attributes with comparatively less cost and harm to environment.

Natural Fibres from Natural Resources:

After digging out deeply, the experts came up with some best natural resources which could be used for sustainable products. And these natural resources include; banana, pineapple, coffee, lotus, stinging nettles and hemp. The extracted natural fibres from the said resources are considered as best both for human as well as for environment. Below we shall find in detail about the usage of the natural fibres which are made from above-said natural resources.

Coffee Ground:

A Taiwan based textile company named Singtex combined the post-patented treated coffee ground with polymer (recycled PET bottles as a base) to develop the master batches before spinning it into yarn.  These coffee grounds are the same which mostly coffee makers/drinkers throw away after making the coffee. So, this company utilizes the wasted grounds and used them as a main ingredient for coffee ground natural fibres. This natural fibers based fabric has multi-functional attributes which can use both for household as well as outdoor items. The Taiwanese company introduced S.Café (coffee ground based fibres fabric) for active wears. The said fabric has anti-bacterial natural attribute and dries 200 times faster than cotton.

Moreover, it has also odor blocking and UV protection attribute. All these extra-ordinary attributes are possible with wasted bottles and coffee ground. As per the company, five bottles and 03 cups of roasted coffee ground are good enough to make one T-shirt. Now need of the time is that how we could convince more and more fashion players to use this type of fabrics which has number of attributes with less impact on globe.

Banana:  

Banana natural fibers are made from stem of banana tree. This fibre is one of the world’s strongest natural fibres with added qualities of durability and biodegradable. Anyhow, extracting a fibre from banana stem is quite hard and labor intensive job. Banana fibres are normally similar with bamboo fibres but its durability, spin ability, fineness and tensile strength is better than it. You can use banana natural fibres in different textile products. As you will have different types of thickness and weight of this fibre so you can use the suitable type according to your requirements. For banana yarn, alkaline solution is used for boiling strips of the sheath. Once it gets softer and separated then these natural fibres joined together to make a long thread which are then spun wet.

Similar to coffee grounds, the banana stems are thrown by the farmers which normally use as main ingredient for banana natural fibres. There are so many products (like mats, ropes, hand-made papers and some woven fabrics) in which banana fibre is used as a main ingredient.  A company named “Green Banana Papers” is using banana fibers for its products like purses, vegan wallets, beads and papers.

Lotus:

There are countries like Thailand and Myanmar which is extensively working on lotus based natural fibres fabric. It seems fascinating that producing fabric from lotus. But the interesting thing is that the fabric which is made from lotus natural fibres has a luxurious feeling (mixture of silk and raw linen feel). Along with that it has added feature of stain-resistant, light weight, extremely breathable and soft & silky feel. The fabric processing of lotus based natural fibre fabric is bit typical. After harvesting the lotus stem, it is cut at the end to extract long and thin fibre. These fibres are washed after extraction and then dry it for weaving on traditional hand looms. The fabric which is made with lotus fibre is normally expensive and has relatively rich look and feel.

Hemp:

Hemp fibre is considered as one the most versatile fibre in natural fibres list. It is most durable, resilient, has natural anti-bacterial and air conditioning system. The hemp’s plant is a fast growing plant which consumes less water and don’t require any fertilizer or pesticides. But despite of all its benefits, the cultivation of this plant is banned in the western world. And the reason behind this, it has direct connection with Cannabis Sativa plant which creates drugs. Anyhow, the said plant is freely cultivated in China. And currently China is contributing the 50% of total world’s hemp production. Moreover, it also owes more than +300 international patents on hemp fibers and textile production.

Stinging Nettle:   

Similarly to hemp fibre, the stinging nettle natural fiber has also resourceful features. The sting nettle fiber based fabric keeps the wearer cool in summer and warm in winter. Urtica dioica is a common example of stinging nettle. And this plant is spreading throughout Europe, North America and also occurs in North Africa and some parts of Asia. So, it has an edge on hemp that it can be cultivated anywhere in Europe and US. Moreover, it consumes less water and don’t require any pesticides or fertilizer for growth. In order to get its fibres, it harvested in summer season. After harvesting the stems, you can get its fibre after drying the stems through certain steps.

Pinatex:

Just like its name, Pinatex drive from pineapple fabric. The fabric which is made from pineapple leaf’s fibre is look like leather. The process which extracts fibre from leaves is called decortication. And the extracted fibres go through a certain industrial process to become non-woven textile.  Pinatex is a introduced by a UK based company named “Ananas Anam”. It’s a result of company’s several years efforts and research. The Pinatex is strong, versatile, breathable, soft, light, flexible fabric. And company is using this leather look fabric in both footwear and other textile accessories. Just like lotus fabric, the Pinatex is also costly fabric and normally consider as luxury item. On the other hand, the rest fabrics have potential to market them into mass level.

How Clothes Can Protect You from Ultraviolet Radiation

How Clothes Can Protect You from Ultraviolet Radiation

The cases of skin cancer are increasing in all over the world. Especially in UK, the figure of new patients is increasing significantly in every coming year. Over 80% of all types of skin cancer are caused by over exposure to UVR (Ultraviolet Radiation) of Sun. So, the experts are already trying to find the best solution or prevention to get out from this situation. And as of now, they found that clothes are the best and easy way to prevent ultraviolet radiation affect to human body.  This is why the customer’s demand toward UV protecting clothes has significantly increased.

The textile experts are doing a lot towards the functionality and over all look of the UV protecting clothes. Initially, the cloth’s appearance (darker) and especially the comfort level was not as good as it should be. But with the passage of time, the look and comfort level has significantly improved. The clothes which are UV protecting are normally called UPF labeled clothing. And now you can find a variety of garments in casual, athletic and sportswear category in the market. Due to increasing customer’s awareness, the demand and variety/functions (a part from UVF) of such clothes is significantly increasing.

Ultraviolet Radiation Protection:

In 1996, Australia has highlighted and standardized the concept of UPF (ultra-protection factor). It means how UPF based clothes can give a shield against the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The ultraviolet radiation protection level varies in different fabrics. It’s level normally based on fabric construction, weight and color. For example, if a top labeled with UPF of 50, it means it allows only 1/50th of the Sun’s UV rays to your body. So, we can say it’s giving excellent protection from Sun’s UV rays. On the other hand, a white thin top allows 1/5th of the Sun’s UV rays to the body. Which means your body is badly effecting by the Sun’s UV radiations. Moreover, if the same white top is wet due to sweating then it will absorb even more UV radiation.

It’s really difficult to assess UVF protection through hand feel or naked eye that how much a cloth can protect you from UV radiations. Although you can see that how much light is passing through the cloth yet you can’t judge the UV radiation passing quantity. So for this, UPF system was introduce which determine the criteria of assessment. And the same system is working all over the world including the US (The ASTM International). The UV labeled clothing means that fabric has been tested in a standardized laboratory. And consumer can gain the narrated benefits of UV protection.

Ultraviolet Radiation Protection Cheap Alternatives:

Since the skin cancer patient’s numbers are increasing significantly so everyone should wear UPF labeled clothing. As these clothes are a bit expensive than daily routine wearing and not available on every store. So, is it necessary to get the same in any case? The answer is “NO”. As per studies in Australia, the clothes which are composite with Lycra/Elastane have more than UPFs of 50. The denim and corduroy clothing are one of those clothes which have higher protection from ultraviolet radiation. Moreover, the fabrics which are more dense in making (tight weave or knit), can protect you better from UV radiations. But it’s not necessary that every dense fabric can give you better protection. As composition of the fabric is also matter a lot.

Normally, the clothes are made in different fibers like cotton, polyester, wool and nylon etc. Some fibers have more ability to stop/reduce the ultraviolet radiation. For example, the fibers like Lycra, Polyester, Nylon and Acrylic are more protective towards UV protection. So, the clothes which have said fibers can protect you better from rays. On the other hand, a dense cotton cloth normally absorbs much UV radiation. Whereas, the shiny thin rayon fabrics normally reflects more UV and absorb less.  So, you have a range of options and characteristics of the fabric’s fibers. Now you have the choice here to select any option protect yourself from unseen rays.

Why Water Pollution is More Critical Than You Think

 Why Water Pollution is More Critical Than You Think

Water is life and it’s a main driving force for all living creatures of our planet. As per Slovakian proverb, “Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine”. We as human beings are the solely responsible for the pollution of this precious natural resource. Scientists are continuously discovering the reasons of water pollution. And as per their findings, one of the main reason of water pollution is our industries and especially the textile and clothing industry. No doubt the textile and clothing sector is catering the basic needs of the human beings. But on the other hand, it is also the main cause of water pollution and shortage.

As most of the industrial processing operations are totally depend upon water. The world’s environment organizations are really concerned about environment as well as water pollution issue. Now, they are working together to find out the ways for pollution free world.

Water Pollution in Textile & Clothing:

As mentioned earlier the textile and clothing industry is major entity of water consumption and pollution. The whole fabric making (De-sizing, Scouring, Bleaching and Mercerizing) and garment manufacturing (denim/non-woven laundry) process requires the plenty of water. And the water discharge from fabric and garment making process has full of hazardous chemical and metals.

Although there are ways to treat the water for reusable yet the treatment solution is a bit costly. And most of the small and medium mills avoid to install such pricey treatment plant into their production facility. So, when the untreated water of the mills dilutes into our rivers and lakes then it causes the sever health and environment issues.

Fashion Industry Trends:

The other studies show that the “micro-plastic” is a major component of synthetic clothing which is polluting our water. And it is worse than already banned plastic “microbeads” from cosmetics. And one more recent studies proves “microfibers” from synthetic clothing pollute water even worse than “micro-plastics”.

As per the recent research study of International Union for Conservation of Nature, the micro plastics contribute up to 31% in ocean’s annual pollution. And almost two third of this pollution derive from synthetic textile and car’s tyres. And other than industrial processing; these micro-plastics also enter into the water in everyday home wash and driving. As per study, a new fleece jacket release 1.7 grams of microfibers on each home wash. And polluting content quantity would be double in case of old jacket. This polluted water with microfibers (which is more harmful than micro plastics) directly affect the sea world. These microfibers absorb chemicals and penetrate into animal tissues in a high quantity.

The pollution rate of micro-plastic and microfibers varies country to country. As per recent research on fishes of Indonesia and America, the Indonesian fish was more contaminated with plastic whereas the American fish was infected with microfibers. In few countries car’s tyres causes the main pollution of micro plastics. Whereas, in other continents, synthetic textile is the main reason of micro-plastic pollution.

Water Saving Measures:

Keeping in view the present scenario, we should be more careful about the main causes of microfibers and micro-plastics pollution. And for this, we should make such clothes which uses high quality of natural fibers. We should change our washing instruments by adding washing bag and filters so that it can stop the debris and other fabric fibers.

For industrial processing, the Control Union (CU) issued new standard named Global Recycle Standard (GRS) for wastewater and chemicals. As per the standards, the wastewater treatment and chemical (sustainable chemical) usage should be in accordance with GOTS and Oekotex 100 standards.  The certification and installation cost of water treatment plant is high so small business normally owners avoid to do this. So, here the Govt. should take some productive measures and combine the industrial units at one place. In this way, they can share the combine water treatment plant and other mutual benefits for cost savings. Furthermore, the Govt. should take measures to promote the “World Water Day” (22nd March) theme (“Why Waste Water”). So, that everyone should know the importance of this valuable natural resource.