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.

The current organic farming output couldn’t fulfil the present requirements of the industry. Although, the growth trend of organic farming is increasing day by day. And every year, we are getting handsome growth in the total organic farming production of the world. But, there is still a huge gap between supply and demand of the world which can’t fill in next few years. And unfortunately, this gap fills by other conventional way of production which doesn’t meet the ethical and sustainable production standards. So, the industry professionals are searching out some other substitutes which could give the consumers same attributes. But its impact on our environment is comparatively less than the current which we are following presently.

Natural Fibres from Natural Resources:

Our environment and natural resources has ruined due to extensive usage of synthetic material and other harmful chemicals. In order to meet the fast fashion demand and supply, the manufacturers are bluntly using all these materials and chemicals. As these materials and chemicals have direct impact in destruction of our green environment. So, the environment people are continuously striving for those alternatives which could replace these harmonized materials and chemicals. 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 lotus natural fibres fabric 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 lotus fibre’s fabric is normally consider as expensive fabric due to its rich look and hand feel.

Hemp:

Hemp fibre considers 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 ban in the western world. And the reason behind this, it has direct connection with Cannabis Sativa plant which creates drugs. Anyhow, this plant is freely cultivates 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 pineapple leaf’s fibre fabric looks and feel like a leather. The process which extracts fibre from leaves is calls 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.

Author: admin

Fakhar is a textile professional with more than 15 years of experience in the fields of Marketing, Merchandising, Sourcing, Liaison, Training & Development, Industrial Relations. Being a keen observer, he constantly tracks the textile innovations and other notable events. And whatever he thinks, is interesting and informative, share the same along with his own understanding and opinion. He loves book reading, cricket and chess.

97 thoughts on “How Natural Fibres are Improving the Textile Sustainability”

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