The fashion industry. Not exactly know for sustainability. Far from it. Although.. it could be on the verge of a green revolution. New sustainable fabrics are invading the fashion scene – hemp, nettle, bamboo, tencel, just to name the more common. And the creations are not quirky, no-color clothes made of hessian fabric. They are some of the coolest clothes ever. You can get everything from hemp jeans to soy underwear.
Since the old days people wore clothes made from animal hides (cow and fish skin leather), spidersweb, worms (silk), crustaceans (chitin), and mollusks (byssus). And off course feathers, wool and fur.
Mollusks? Byssus cloth is made of long microfilaments secreted by a certain type of Mediterranean Sea mollusk, that can grow up to three feet long, excreting a fine fiber.
The properties of these plant fiber fabric of today far exceeds the materials we used to this point. TENCEL® is made from wood, but softer than silk. It is more absorbent than cotton and cooler than linen.
SOY UNDIES AND CORN COTOURE
Soy silk? If that sounds funny to you, hold on. You can make clothes of milk protein, polyvinyl alcohol, bio-degradable plastic, spider web, waste coffee grounds, as well as plant fibers such as bamboo, seaweed, lotus flower, agave cactus, coconut, pineapple, corn, soy, flax, kapok, mushroom and wood.
You can get married in a wedding dress made of soy silk. Not soy milk. First time I read about soy silk, I thought it was a misspell. SOYSILK® is a petrochemical free, biodegradable, renewable resource material made from soybeans and tofu production waste.
Soy silk supposedly has a higher breaking strength than wool and cotton, yet the softness and smoothness of cashmere. Wrinkle free, no shrinkage, moth resistant fabric with better moisture absorption and moisture transmission than cotton, making it comfortable to wear in the summer. Soy silk looks just like silk from the silkworm, even drapes like traditional silk, but is more durable. On top of that it’s anti-bacterial, hence sanitary and anti-odor. You can also get soy yarn and knit a soy scarf or a soy sweater. Soy yarn is made from soy fibers and has a strong, silky and stretchy texture.
Ingeo™ from Natureworks LLC is another eco-friendly fabric made from corn fiber. Insulating, wrinkle free, resilient, stain resistant, breathable, hypoallergenic. 100% natural and biodegradable too.
Seaweed yoga apparel from Lululemon Athletica
The company Lululemon Athletica are making clothes for yoga and workout as well as swimwear from healthy materials such as bamboo, charcoal, coconut and soybeans. Their VitaSea line is made with SeaCell, which is fibers of seaweed mixed with cellulose.
Sea Silk is a new luxury yarn from Hand Maiden made from seaweed fiber
Seaweed yarn is considered a luxury yarn. Sheen, firm, light, soft and silky. Takes color beyond compare. Check out the breathtaking color selection at http://colorsongyarn.com/yarns/handmaiden/sea_silk.htm
I want a seaweed sweater. Period. I’m just gonna have to take up knitting..
WOOD & COFFEE CLOTHES
Kapok fiber is found inside the seedpods of the kapok tree in the form of silky fluff that surrounds the kapok seeds. Kapok, also called Java cotton, is used by more and more fashion designers to make innovative clothes and underwear. The fabric has unique properties, it looks a bit like organza silk, but remains stronger, resistant to vermin, resistant to water and moisture and more. Soft, lightweight, resilient fabric that is warmer than wool.
Kenaf is another bast fiber that was used in the Ancient Egypt and Asian. The eco-friendly, low-maintenance plant require a minimum of water and no fertilizers in comparison to conventional crops. The carbon footprint left by growing and processing kenaf is nearly invisible. Growing kenaf improves the soil in the areas it’s grown as it absorbs CO2 more than pine or rain forest, fixing nutrients into the soil and enhancing soil structure. The plant produces many more times the load of fiber per acre than other plants. It is biodegradable and is used for both textile and plastics.
Kenaf fiber is found in the bast (bark) and core (wood) and is a superior option for garments, as its extremely long fibers makes up the very fine kenaf yarn.
Lotus flower fabric is a material created from the stems of the lotus flower. When harvesting the lotus flowers, the stems are just left in the water, now harvested for fabric. No waste. No polluting chemicals or toxins used in the production. The eco luxury fabric is a cross between silk and linen in texture, and was used to make robes for high-ranking Buddhist monks. The unique and soft material is light, soft, breathable, wrinkle-free, naturally stain-resistant, and waterproof due to its aquatic origin. Like the leaves and flower of the lotus.
Modal is a fabric made of cellulose from beech tree fiber. The production process of Modal involves very few chemicals and recycles most of the water and solvents used. The fabric is extremely soft, dyes well, resists fading and doesn’t shrink.
Pineapple silk, also called piña, is made from the fibers of pineapple leaves. Piña is glossy, ivory-colored, diaphanous, breathable fabric, that has excellent cooling properties. Better quality than raw silk. The fiber takes natural dyes very well, and the glossy surface of the material eliminates the need for toxic treating agents since it acts as a protective layer for the fabric.
Sisal is a type of agave plant that grows in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. Sisal fiber is made from the leaves of the plant, and was traditionally used for rope and twine, but the fine sisal fibers are used for carpets and other home textiles.
Lyocell, also called Tencell is a biosynthetic fiber made from the cellulose-rich pulp of the eucalyptus tree. Lyocell was the original term for the fiber, but was coined Tencel by the company that currently manufactures the material. 100% of the water and non-toxic solvents used for producing tencel are re-used. Lyocell fiber can be spun into high quality yarn that is used for anything from underwear to sheets, even denim. Tencel is soft, drapes well, breathable, moisture-wicking, wrinkle-resistant and entirely biodegradable.
Natural color hemp fabric
Hemp fabric is made from the inner fibers of the stalk of the hemp plant, which belongs to the bast fiber group. Hemp does not require any pesticides or toxic chemicals when cultivated, produces 2-3 times more fiber per acre than cotton, and the plant even fixes nutrients back into the soil. Hemp fabric is breathable, warm, moisture-wicking, anti-bacterial and easily blended with other natural fibers such as cotton and wool for a soft, durable textile.
A STINGING NETTLE SWEATER
… doesn’t sound too nice, however with a little effort stinging nettle fibers can be turned into clothes as soft as cotton – but stronger. The nettle fiber is actually one of the strongest natural fibers. Nettle clothes are actually dead comfortable to wear. Breathable like hemp and flax.
Ramie fabric is known for its ability to hold shape and was used as a luxury fabric for more than five thousand years in Asia. That’s longer than cotton has even been around.
Nettle need little water nor nutrients to grow. Actually it’s a plant that hardly take any nutrients from the soil, in fact it provides a lot of nutrients back into the soil. Hence a good crop to help fertilize degraded land in between other crops. Same goes for hemp.
Nettle fabric is made of the fibrous stem of stinging nettle, the fiber of which is soft and lustrous and was very popular in the medieval times. Cultivating nettle is far more sustainable than cultivating cotton for textiles, as it is a low-maintenance crop and requires minimal amount of water and no pesticides. Nettle plants attracts wildlife and can grow in the poorest of soil, unsuited for other crops.
Ramie is also a fabric made of a type of nettle called Chinese Nettle or China grass. It was used in Ancient Egypt to make the fabric for wrapping the mummies. Ramie is similar to linen, but softer. What is special about ramie is the strength of it. It’s eight times stronger than cotton.
Bamboo is a grass originating from Asia and in spite of its rapid growth, it requires no fertilizers or pesticides and little water.
Both the bamboo leaves and the soft, inner pith from the hard bamboo trunk is used in manufacturing clothes.
Bamboo is often used for baby clothes because of the softness of the fabric. Bamboo socks have the most silky and soft feel to them.
The fabric made from bamboo fiber is silky, yet very durable, and it has moisture wicking properties.
Nettle fiber yarn
Cotton is the most pesticide-intensive crop in the world, using more chemicals per unit area than any other crop. Conventional cotton covers 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land yet uses 16-25% of the world’s insecticides, herbicides, defoliants and other pesticides, whereas the organic cotton is non-GMO and can be grown without the use of synthetic agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers or pesticides.
The pesticides used for growing conventional cotton usually include chemicals that are extremely toxic to the farmers, such asTrifluralin, Toxaphene and DDT. For production of organic cotton, poisons extracted from plants are used.
I’ve heard the children of cotton farmers in India are born deformed and mentally deficient as a result of pesticide exposure. I also heard suicide rates of have exploded among cotton farmers in India due to insane debts as a result of the genetically modified Bt cotton seeds from Monsanto.
Some people say there’s a good chance you die of cancer, should you choose to become a cotton farmer. No wonder they recommend you to wash the clothes a few times before you wear them, when buying new clothes.
Cultivating organic cotton require more time and skill, and is more costly. However choosing organic cotton over conventional cotton, you are supporting biodiversity and the ecosystems and improves the quality of soil.
Organic cotton only need a fraction of the watering conventional cotton does. Growing conventional cotton is one of the more water consuming activities on the planet.
Less chemicals end up in the ocean and the ground water, growing organic cotton.
Don’t throw out the clothes you don’t wear. Unless they’re worn to death. Redesign them. Reshape them. Cut them in pieces. Put them back together in a new chic, stylish way. When you buy a piece of clothes, there are thousands exactly like it. Rethinking your outdated items, you can make your own unique designs, exactly after your preference.
If you never buy things you end up not wearing, you can go to the second hand shop and find hopeless pieces, buy them for nothing and make the most gorgeous redesign pieces of them. One designer definitely need-to-mentioning here is www.trashtocouture.com/p/before-after.html, check out the before and after photos, you will be amazed at way the talented designers refashion all kinds of designs.
Check out how she transforms an old polka dot shirt into a fancy cocktail dress, refashion a flutter sleeve dress from a table cloth, a summer outfit from an oversized t-shirt, a peasant blouse from a scarf, a choker dress from a t-shirt, old jeans into overall dress, a top from a bandana, a t-shirt into a lace pencil dress, a skirt from old jeans or a gorgeous dress made of a pillowcase..!
Peasant blouse made of old scarf from trashtocouture.com
You too, can remodel your clothes, reusing good fabric. Just adding a zipper or grommet trim here or there will give a whole new look to your old designs. Or simply buy your own one-of-a-kind redesigned piece at websites like http://www.trashtocouture.com.
82 pounds of clothes are thrown away by the average American, which adds up to 11 million tons of clothes annually in America alone. The clothes are thrown away, left to rot and produce methane gas and release harmful gasses. As these aren’t the biodegradable kind, they’ll just be sitting in the landfills for at least 200 years.
That’s just one disturbing fact from the documentary The True Cost, which I do recommend anyone to take the time to watch.
Pillowcase dress from trashtocouture.com
Fashion is a disposable product. We buy 400% more clothing than we did 20 years ago, mainly because of the exceedingly low prices of today.
Designers seem hell-bent on producing more and more cheap, disposable stuff. And we, the insatiable, deal-sniffing, stuff-obsessed consumers, hell-bent continue to perpetuate the cycle by supporting fast fashion, while growing poorer and poorer spending hard-earned money on cheap clothes that aren’t made to last, adding to global devastation.
Buying second hand clothes or re-designing clothes is the more sustainable way to go by far.
Banana bags – made of abaca
Upcycling is turning discarded materials into something that can be reused. Upcycling, not recycling. Upcycling upgrades the quality of the materials, giving new life to products. Upcycled products are usually handmade, using little energy, electricity and other resources.
Handbags are made from plastic bags, old suits, etc. and again each item is unique. There’s only one bag like yours in the world. Not thousands as with the bags you normally would buy in the shops or online. Inventive styles from brands like Sew much style or Up-Fuse are truly taking off, producing stylish bags made out of upcycle materials such as second hand suits and the 1 trillion (fact) plastic bags, we dispose off on yearly basis.
Pineapple leather made of the leaves of pineapple or banana bags made of banana leaves are examples of upcycling. The leaves are a waste product until this point, now made into plant based leather. Same with abaca, a waste product from growing bananas, now made into super cool bags and other, spearing resources.
The stalks of the banana plant contain long fibers that can be spun into silky threads used in rugs, curtains, tablecloths and other interior textiles. Banana fiber, abaca, has been used in Asia for centuries, spun into banana yarn or made into kimonos.
The designs are trendy as well as eco-friendly. For instance the popular Greypants lamps made out of 100% recycled cardboard box.
MATT&NAT is an example of the new upcycle companies, using sustainable and natural materials such as recycled nylons, cardboard, rubber and cork to make non-leather leather accessories. Even recycled bicycle tires. Linings are made of 100% recycled plastic bottles. You can get not only every type of bag under under the sun, shoes, wallets, passport holders, briefcases, etc. from matandnat.com
reWrap.com is another innovative company that makes designer bags from natural materials from trees which are fully biodegradable such as natural rubber, walnut wood and coconut and palm fibers.
Beautiful fully compostable creation of bioplastic made from plant sugar
Polylactic acid fiber, PLA, stands for polylactic acid fiber, a biodegradable polyester derived from dextrose, a plant sugar from corn, sugar beets, wheat, tapioca root, or sugar cane.
Cellulosic fibers are fibers manufactured from cellulose and hence a part of the plant-based synthetics fabric group, which include synthetics such as rayon/viscose, lyocell and acetate, derived from cellulose in wood pulp, bark or leaves of plants.
rPET, recycled polyester, is made from recycled plastic soda and water bottles, food containers, unusable second quality polyester fabrics or even worn out polyester garments. The polyester is simply broken down and re-made into new polyester fiber. Upcycling materials like rPET utilizes waste and reduces the use of oil as well as contamination of air, soil and water contamination from the polyester manufacturing industry.
Nettle fiber drying
TIME TO GIVE LEATHER THE BOOT..!
Accessorizing with handbags, clutches, man-bags, messenger bags, phone covers, computer bags, wristlets, wallets, belts, and shoes, such accessories brought in £1.34 billion in the United Kingdom last year alone.
The problem is that the herds of cattle required to produce leather will need to grow, too, in order to keep up with demand. It is estimated that the number of cows slaughtered annually will have to increase from 290 million currently to 430 million by 2025, in order to keep us in wallets, handbags, and shoes. Billions of cows yearly to produce leather pants and sofas.
If you really care to know what you are supporting by purchasing leather products today, watch through the documentaries. Hell for Leather, and/or The True Cost, both exposing the cruel, heartbreaking conditions for the animals as well the child workers, knee deep in toxic chemicals in the tanneries, burning and discoloring their skin. The tannery workers, mostly child workers, have a low life expectancy, as 90% of them die before the age of 50. Even living next to a tannery can make you sick. The chemicals used to turn skin into leather are dangerously toxic, including lead, cyanide, formaldehyde and coal-tar derivatives. Children are standing barefoot in cancer causing chemicals, sometimes up to the shoulders.
The leather industry typically target developing countries like Ethiopia, Cambodia, Vietnam, India and Bangladesh because of the lack of standards there in regards of pollution, as well as exploitation of animals and humans. Children, often the age of 11 to 14 work shifts of more than 12 hours a day in unregulated tanneries. Under fatal conditions. Without any safety measures.
The environmental devastation caused by manufacturing leather is horrific. Chromium contamination of vast regions of northern India by unregulated tanneries, chemicals that leach into the ground and waterways causing birth defects, skin discoloration, and other physical deformities in countries like India, as exposed in the documentary The True Cost.
According to a 2012 report by Human Rights Watch, every day the tanneries collectively dump 22,000 cubic litres of toxic waste into Dhaka’s main river, Buriganga, in Bangladesh – which serves as a main water supply. Every day, no less.
The extraordinary level of pollution caused by the toxic chemicals required for tanning, the pressure is on to produce more.
If the customer doesn’t buy leather any more, things will change.
If you think leather is a by-product of the hamburger industry, think again. Leather is NOT made from the hide of dairy cows or cows raised for meat, and would otherwise go to waste. Leather is from leather cows raised for leather and nothing but.
This was once the skin of a living animal. I wonder about the poor cow, whose life has been ended so the belt’s can begin..
PINEAPPLE LEATHER AND MUSHROOM SUEDE
Whoever told you you need cow leather? Synthetic leather really is on the up. Many new groundbreaking materials, like biobased PU polyurethane, paper, waxed cotton, plant based leather made from pineapple, cork, wood and kelp algae are slowly, but surely taking over the market. Every bit as good as cow leather, even better some people might say. Like leather, but without the mayhem.
Synthetic materials have evolved to the point where leather is unnecessary and you can buy bags and other accessories that are gorgeous, with that delightful patina that so appeals, without traces of cruelty.
The company Modern Meadow produce animal-friendly as well as eco-friendly leather, made of collagen. Piñatex are making sustainable, plant based leather from pineapple.
MycoWorks is a durable, strong, but flexible water-resistant, mushroom leather substitute made of agricultural waste. Carbon negative process.
MuSkin is a new eco, 100% biodegradeable material that is both resistant, soft, breathable, naturally water-repellant and keep moisture. A natural substitute for leather AND suede, made of mushroom, using chemical-free methods as it is naturally stymie the profileration of bacteria. No tanning.
Unlike animal hides, plant based leather substitute products can be grown just about any size or shape.
MuSkin mushroom bag from GradoZero Espace
When you walk into a shop selling leather sofas or leather jackets, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Leather reeks. You can hardly go near most leather products for the first couple of months after you purchase them, until the chemicals from the tanneries has somewhat evaporated. My ex-boyfriend and the friend of him invested in a pair of leather pants to attract women. Unfortunately for them, the leather pants turned out a woman-repellant, stinking up the whole scene in the bar, eventually in the bedroom.
Stella McCartney. A luxury brand where people are prepared to pay £1,500 for a bag, and it’s not made of leather. And anyone who has ever held a Stella McCartney bag or had a good look at one can testify that they’re every bit as good as a cow leather one – better, if you factor in the environmental damage and loss of life they’ve displaced.
Bourgeois Boheme also comes recommended, offering a wide range of high quality leather-free shoes made of plant-based polymers, including grains and seeds.
Pineapple sneaker from Piñatex
DEAD THINGS SHOULD BE BURIED
Fur and feathers too. Why use feathers for stuffing? The hollow shaft of a feather, calamus, will eventually stick out of the pillow and poke you in neck or in the face.
Today we are making microfiber like Microlux that are better than the greasy, damp old goose and duck feathers they used to stuff our pillow and dune with, turning your bed into a teeming nest of bacteria, dust bunnies and microbes thriving, living off the deceased feather stuffing, causing allergies and asthma. No more blocked nose and sinuses and the end of the neck that is out because of lumpy, flat pillows.
For some reason the feathers always tend to end up sticking together, making the pillow flat as a tortilla, and the dune thin as a sheet in various parts.
The ball fibers of todays pillows and dune are super insulating, doesn’t stick together, dry fast after washing, doesn’t keep moisture such as sweat like feathers do.
Same goes for coats stuffed with feathers.
When I wear fur, people tend to stop me in the street and ask me where I bought this piece. I explain where and at this point people realize it’s fake fur. Everyone is taken by surprise. They can’t tell. Fake fur is invading the runway, even Chanel launched an all fake fur collection with the winter collection in 2010/11. “It’s the triumph of fake fur.. because fake fur changed so much and became so great now that you can hardly see a difference”, Karl Lagerfeld announced.
There’s just no need to kill animals.
Conscious cardigan from H&M, made of recycled fabric material
MORE THAN 5.000 YEARS OLD LINEN DRESS
The Tharkan dress is the worlds oldest piece of clothing ever found. A womans dress made out of flax fiber linen, excavated from a cemetery. Well over 5.000 years old, probably between 5.100 and 5.500..
Linen is made of flax, therefore it has a high level of natural oils, making linen textiles quite resilient. It has been used since Ancient Mesopotamian times, hence people from the bronze age and iron age was found, or rather, the clothes of them was found, completely intact, because of they were made of linen. Flax is one of the strongest plant fibers. It dyes well, is highly absorbent and keeps you cool. No doubt hemp, nettle and flax clothes are exceedingly durable, almost imperishable.
The fabric has been used for home textiles and canvas bags as well as clothes, because of its tensile strength.
Growing flax requires little water and no chemical fertilizers. Flax fibers used for linen fabric come from the flax plant and are know to be one of the world’s strongest and most durable natural fibers. Flax is naturally pest-resistant and requires very little fertilizer or water.
Every part of the flax plant is used. Flax seeds for food and the rest of the plant for fabric.
“Is it time to give up leather?” by Lucy Siegle, executive producer, The True Cost