Greening up your life means taking a look at everything you do and how it affects the world. It appears that the trend towards greening up has now hit your closet and your dressers. Now there are many new fiber choices available that tout the ability to green up your life. A search for these eco-friendly fashions will provide many hits. There are now many eco-friendly alternatives to the traditional cotton, wool, linen, silk and synthetics. We now have organic cotton, green wool, bamboo, hemp and soy. The following guide will help you to sort out the world of eco-friendly fashions.
Green wool does not mean wool that has been dyed green. It means wool products that have been raised and processed in the most environmentally friendly way possible. In order to be certified “green” or organic, sheep must have been fed organic feed and forage through the last third of gestation. They cannot have been given synthetic hormones, or genetically modified products. The sheep themselves cannot be genetically modified. Sorry, Dolly, you and your cloned offspring do not qualify! They cannot have been given pesticides, either internal or external, and their pasture cannot have those applied either. They are kept in small population densities and in such a manner that promotes their optimum health.
Whew! That is a lot of information for those not agriculturally inclined. However, it is really easy for those that wish to produce the best quality product possible. Like organic cotton, it cannot have been processed with chemicals, waxes, or other such processes. Organic wool production is not new; after all, this is the way it has been done since time immortal. Green wool means healthy animals, fewer skin allergies, and a healthier environment.
Many people do not realize that the “itchiness” they feel from wool actually does not come from the wool itself, but from the residual acid left over from processing. Conventional wool is dipped in a strong acid bath to remove material such as sticks and weeds from the wool. In green wool, this is accomplished during the carding process, just as it has been done for hundreds of years. It you think that you are allergic to wool, try green wool. You might find that it is not the wool at all that is the culprit, but the residual processing chemicals.
Bamboo is no longer just for garden screens and placemats. Bamboo fabric is the latest craze in the world of environmentally friendly fabrics. Bamboo is a renewable resource and fabric made from is has anti-bacterial qualities. It is also odor resistant, and more absorbent than cotton. It wicks moisture away from your skin. It is durable, strong, and does not need intensive ironing like cotton. Bamboo also passes flammability requirements without the addition of formaldehyde (Hartsfabric, 2009).
Bamboo is being fashioned into a number of items with which you are familiar. Bamboo can be used to make almost anything that can be made from cotton. It feels wonderfully strong and soft to the touch. Bamboo is synonymous with organic production and handling. It is difficult to find bamboo that is not sustainably produced. It requires no replanting, pesticides or fertilizers. A bamboo forest produces 35% more oxygen than a comparable stand of timber trees (Bamboofabricstore.com, 2007).
Bamboo fabrics look and drape like silk, but can be machine washed on gentle. They can be dried on a clothesline or in the dryer. Diapers made from bamboo are much more absorbent than their cotton counterparts without adding bulkiness. The texture is soft and wonderful for baby or adult skin. However, like all fabrics, you must read the label, because some manufacturers are combining bamboo with synthetics for different qualities.
Hemp fabric is not new on the scene, but it has come a long way. For many of us, our experience with natural hemp is in the way of rough macramé cord or beads strung on hemp cord. The reason for hemp’s use in these items is strength and durability. Now, a new generation of hemp cloth gives it a look and feel much like linen. Hemp is produced organically, with much of it currently coming from Europe (Rawganique.com, 2009).
Hemp now has a luxurious texture and feel. It comes in a number of weaves, including herringbone and other traditional linen weave patterns. It ranges from heavy weight canvas to fine suit-weight cloth. Hemp is combined with organic cotton, providing the absorption qualities of the cotton to the hemp. It is available in jersey knits and terry. Hemp is an excellent alternative to explore in environmentally friendly fabric choices.
Soy is the wonder-plant of the green movement. It seems that everything is made of soy. Now, there are even clothing products made from soy products. Like, hemp, green wool, and bamboo, soy fabric is an environmentally conscious choice. Many soy fabrics are blended with cotton, and spandex (Soygeniousfabric.com). The use of spandex increases the life of the garment and gives it stretchiness. In many cases only a small percentage of spandex is used.
Soy fabric is made from the by-products left over from processing tofu, soybean oil and other soy foods. Soy fabric is relatively new on the market and much of the production is currently taking place in China (Soygeniousfabric.com) Soy has many great qualities. It has a UPF of 30+; it is stain resistant, antimicrobial, wicks moisture from the skin and has other great qualities that make it a great choice for children’s clothing. They are soft and luxurious, perfect for children’s garments. It remains relatively wrinkle free and has breathability similar to cotton or linen.
One of the key drawbacks is that the dyes tend to run when washed. It is suggested that soy fabrics be laundered separately and that a dye catcher sheet is used (Soygenioufabric.com). Soy fabric must be washed in cold water, without chlorine bleach. It must be air dried, or tumble dried without heat. However, when these care instructions are followed, soy provides a durable and environmentally friendly fabric choice for you and your family.
Now you have an idea of the new fabrics that are currently available. Check them out and consider them in your next purchase. You will be pleasantly surprised!
Bamboofabricstore. 2007. About Bamboo Fabric. Available from: http://www.bamboofabricstore.com/
HartsFabric. 2009. Bamboo Fabric. Available from: http://www.hartsfabric.com/bamboofabric.html
Rawganique. 2009. Organic Hemp Fiber and Fabrics. Available from: http://www.rawganique.com/HAfabric.htm
Soygenius. n.d. Our Fabric. Available from: http://www.soygeniusfabric.com/pages/fabric1.html