It looks like the industry is going back to nature and looking to natural textiles from plants, the ocean and food waste to produce sustainable textiles.
A large portion of ‘sustainable fashion’ items are using a mix of recycled material i.e polyester and natural fabric. This is an ideal situation as it incorporates fabric that would otherwise be sitting in landfill, as long as the production process is eco friendly.
Hemp is currently being used already in certain types of clothing, however it hasn’t gone mainstream just yet. Made from the Marijuana plant, it’s a versatile plant and similar to Bamboo in that it’s fast growing and has a low impact on the environment. The one thing is being called a ‘hipster’ by all your mates for wearing Hemp clothes.
Chitin Fibre is derived from food waste, predominately from crustaceans shell. It’s super cheap and versatile, incorporating waste from the food industry. It’s already being used for a large variety of manufacturing processes and can decrease the use of artificial dyes due to it’s bonding property. Watch this space.
Seaweed is apparently a very versatile and low environment impact material, however I can’t see it going mainstream…mainly because…it’s seaweed.
Banana Fibre is similar to Bamboo in that it’s versatile when softened and cheap. It has been suggested to be better than Bamboo as it’s one of the strongest fibres, hopefully it can be rolled out to commercial use since it’s environmentally friendly as it’s biodegradable.
Pineapple leather + silk is quite an exciting material, mainly because it’s already been patented. Pinatex is a registered company which produces leather products from pineapple using an environmentally friendly process using pineapple plant waste and natural dyes.
Coconut fibre called Coir is made from coconut husks that have been disregarded (if you’ve been to Sri Lanka you’ll have seen this). It isn’t as versatile as it’s a very rough material, it could be used however for things such as bags, shoes or brushes. It’s already in the works in Sri Lanka.
Corn fibre is a versatile and cheap material, which can have no impact on the environment. Ingeo is a current start-up attempting to use it for manufacturing clothing. They have used the dextrose in corn fibre which can be used in a wide variety of things from electrical to apparel. The corn fibre is taken from crops that have been grown for other purposes.
There are lots more exciting materials out there, this awesome article from 1 Million Women can tell you more. The key point to make is that it’s not just the fibre itself, it’s the way they are manufactured and how they are disposed of. There are lots of exciting processes and strategies out there that large brands have incorporated, we just need more brands to get on board. As consumers YOU have the power.
Images source: Unsplash + Trendstop