02 Feb 2024

Sustainable Fibres - The Low-down

Sustainable Fibres - The Low-down
I always like to think it's the little things that eventually equate to the big changes and trying to buy sustainable materials is one of them.
If you are interested in some of the natural options out there I have listed a few options below. For a much deeper dive into the subject, Selvedge Magazine has an amazing selection of online talks coming up on Cotton and Linen. I've signed up and can't wait!
LINEN - One of the oldest and most eco-friendly fibres there are. Linen is derived from a very versatile and sustainable crop - the Flax plant. It requires little water and fertiliser to thrive and can even grow in poor-quality soil.
HEMP - As you might possibly know Hemp is the sober cousin of the Marijuana plant. Not only does Hemp clean the soil it grows in, but can survive without pesticides. Once hemp is made into fabric it's durable, long-lasting and biodegradable.
COTTON - The tale of two halves, both Cotton and Organic Cotton are biodegradable but, take note, Cotton is a highly “thirsty crop” that requires substantial amounts of water. Organic cotton is grown without synthetic chemicals, pesticides, or fertilisers that can pollute the soil, water systems and harm living organisms.

QMONOS -is synthetic spider silk, having been developed through the fusion of spider silk genes and microbes. The fibre is said to be five times stronger than steel, the toughest fibre in nature while being very lightweight, more flexible than nylon, and entirely biodegradable.

(Do not fear, no spiders are farmed or harmed in the manufacturing process, making Qmonos a more sustainable and ethical alternative to silk and nylon.)

Other fibres of note:

VISCOSE - is a confusing one to me as It's neither a synthetic nor a natural fibre. Viscose is a semi-synthetic fibre because it's derived from a natural source, but needs extensive processing using chemicals. It's a manufactured fibre, originating in natural wood cellulose, or protein, while synthetic fibres are completely man-made.

RECYCLED POLYESTER - This versatile, man-made fabric is made from old plastic bottles - clever right? The plastic is broken down into tiny, thin chips, which are processed and eventually turned into yarn. I must admit I am a little sceptical of this one, but it's a great example of upcycling plastic that might alternatively be heading to landfills.