What’s common between plastic bottles, trees and cotton? You’d be pleasantly surprised to know that they are all contributing towards making clothes more sustainable and environment-friendly.
Read on to know more about sustainable yarns and how they’ve brought about a change in the textile industry.
Newer Sources, Safer Processes
Today, sustainability carries a whole new meaning in the textile industry. What was earlier considered as just a responsibility has today transformed into a pursuit of innovation. Designers and textile manufacturers are introducing newer varieties of fibres obtained from natural resources. Furthermore, conventional manufacturing processes like spinning, sizing, textile dyeing, or finishing are completely innovated to reduce their environmental impact. What’s worth noticing is that all these transformations are happening without any compromises on the quality of the fibres, yarns or fabrics.
Fibres For A Safer Future
Let’s look at some of the sustainable fibres that are rapidly gaining popularity in the textile industry.
Organic cotton is cultivated without the use of environmentally harmful chemicals like fertilisers or pesticides. This form of cultivation benefits both – the cotton farmers and their lands as well. Due to the non-usage of pesticides or fertilisers, the soil remains fertile for longer periods, while the health of the harvesters is safeguarded as well. In addition, organic cotton complies with international standards, including BCI, Fairtrade cotton, and more. One of the most skin-friendly fibres of all time, organic cotton is used extensively in the apparel industry. Owing to its softness, it’s also used widely in clothing for babies as well.
Disposed PET bottles get converted into flakes, only to be ultimately transformed into fibre in different denier polyester. As a result, recycling PET bottles is economical and reduces landfills. From casual wear to sportswear to home furnishing, this innovative fibre finds widespread use amongst people.
Cupro is a regenerated cellulose fibre, which is soft, silky, and robust. It is created by treating cotton cellulose with cuprammonium salts. Thanks to their breathability and softness, Cupro fabrics are used widely in the fashion industry for making elegant suits and dresses.
This fibre is made using the wood pulp of trees cultivated and replaced on specialised tree farms. Yarns made from Tencel are soft, breathable, and have wicking abilities. Used as an eco-friendly substitute for cotton or silk, Tencel is used for making garments of all kinds.
Fabrics made from Bamboo are known for their durability, softness, breathability, sweat absorption, and antibacterial properties. Often referred to as Bamboo Rayon, this eco-friendly fibre is used extensively in products like sportswear, bedding and towels. Bamboos grow rapidly, making them an ideal natural resource for faster textile production as well.
Sustainable and Conventional Fibres – A Comparison
Sustainable and conventional yarns differ on the following parameters:
Sustainable yarns use raw materials such as cotton and wool, which are naturally occurring and renewable. The extraction of organic raw materials does not contaminate the land or the water. Conventional yarns are composed of synthetic fibres such as polyester or nylon, which involve the extraction of fossil fuels and are more pollutive to natural resources.
Synthetic fibres use fossil fuels for manufacturing processes, which requires significant energy levels for extraction. Consequently, their carbon footprint is considerably substantial.
A study conducted by the Stockholm Environment Institute revealed that the energy used (consequently, the CO2 emitted) to manufacture 1 ton of spun fibre is substantially greater for synthetics than for hemp or cotton.
Sustainable fibres like hemp or cotton, on the other hand, have a much lesser carbon footprint as compared to their synthetic counterparts.
03Amount Of Waste
Most synthetic fibres are petroleum-based and thus non-biodegradable, leading to monstrous waste problems such as landfills and soil pollution.
Sustainable fibres are produced from natural fibres such as wool and cotton, which are biodegradable. Besides natural fibres, recycled cotton and polyester are also used in manufacturing, thereby solving the landfills problem.
As mentioned earlier, the manufacturing techniques employed when producing sustainable fibres are eco-friendly due to their minimal carbon footprint and recyclability after usage.
However, synthetic fibres like acrylic, polyester, nylon, polyolefin, and others are petroleum-based and environmentally toxic during extraction.
Sustainable fibres, including Organic Cotton, Bamboo, Tencel, and others, are cultivated naturally without chemical treatments in the factory. As a result, they do not involve fossil fuel extraction, and thus, their embodied energies are relatively minimal. Being biodegradable and recyclable, they solve the landfills’ problem and are reusable when creating more yarns without polluting the environment.
Synthetic fibres, including Acrylic, Polyester, Nylon, and others, get manufactured using petroleum, which demands considerable energy levels for extraction, leading to a higher carbon footprint.
Synthetic linens, non-biodegradable and non-recyclable, often pile up in landfills, leading to soil and air pollution.
The Way Ahead
With the ever-advancing needs of the population and the call for sustainability to curb global warming, the textile industry has hopped onto the approach of using natural fibres over synthetic ones.
Besides being eco-friendly, these fibres are less hassle to obtain and do not involve non-renewable resources. Sustainability is no longer a far-fetched dream; with more companies steering towards environmentally responsible fibres, it is an achievable plan for a healthier society.