New Eco-Friendly Fabrics You Should Know About

Woman wearing eco-friendly clothing
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New Eco-Friendly Fabrics You Should Know About

New Eco-Friendly Fabrics You Should Know About

There’s no denying that our planet is getting more and more polluted every day. It seems like each of our daily living activities can have a negative outcome for the environment. While we can’t control all of our actions, we can do our best to decrease our carbon footprint. That’s why sewers with the environment on their mind choose eco-friendly fabrics for their projects.

The good news is that there are several traditional options you can use, while the amazing discoveries and innovations in cloth production are creating new ones. Some of the new eco-friendly fabrics will surprise you to say at least. But let’s first have a quick look at more traditional eco-friendly fabric and textiles as we move on to the more exotic stuff.

Traditional Eco-Friendly Fabrics

Some of the traditional “green” fabrics are centuries old, while others are manmade. Each of them has many perks that are triumphing over their downsides, but the major one is that they are eco-friendly.
What does that term mean relaying to fabrics? It means that they are made from natural fibers, but more importantly – their production doesn’t harm the environment.

Here are some of such traditional fabrics:

  • Hemp – This fabric made from the Cannabis sativa plant is used by humans for thousands of years. Hemp materials were found in the tombs dating back to 8,000 B.C.E. Cannabis sativa plant grows without the help of any chemicals or pesticides. There’s no need for them since the plant growth is so fast that is replanted and harvested annually. Alongside all the warmth and softness of a natural textile, hemp fabric is super durable.
  • Bamboo fabric – As the name says it, this fabric is produced from the natural fiber of Bamboo plants. Bamboo is the world’s fastest-growing, self-regenerating plant, and the fabric, as well as clothing that comes from it is naturally anti-bacterial, hypoallergenic and very soft, while also biodegradable.
  • Organic Silk – Naturally sustainable since the silkworm is not killed when making it, on the contrary to standard silk. It still posses that same fabulous luxurious look, as well as feel.
  • Soy fabric – You might don’t know that this fabric comes from tofu and soybean oil manufacturing waste. Some chemical manipulation is included, but the result is an incredibly soft material that feels similar to cashmere. It is often combined with organic cotton.
  • Linen – Durable and strong, linen fabric is made from the fibers of the flax plant. Due to its light feel and high absorbency, it is an ideal choice for hot tropical climates.

Woman wearing light-red linen dress

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Now that we know our traditional, let’s see what new and fascinating eco-friendly fabrics are invented.

Polyester Fabric from Recycled Plastic Bottles

As the material that is causing the most pollution, experts are working hard to turn plastic and transform its residues into something useful. Ironically, plastic is one of the easiest materials to recycle, but many times this process uses more resources than it creates.

Luckily, that’s not the case with polyester fabric from recycled plastic bottles also known by the name Eco-spun. Production of this “green” fabric starts with the collection of plastic bottles that have been shredded into plastic flakes by recycling companies. Such flakes are then converted into small pellets that are further melted, extracted, and spun into polyester threads. Each of these processes is producing with minimal damage to the natural environment.

Better yet, the designers and clothing manufacturers are embracing this fabric, gaining more popularity as it is slowly invading the mainstream textile and fashion industry.

In 2013, Livia Firth worn a fashionable and eco-friendly gown made from this green polyester fabric by Giorgio Armani. Colleges all around the country have accepted it also, so an estimated 400,000 students will be accepting diplomas while wearing gowns created from this environmental-friendly fabric.

Livia Firth in eco-friendly dress designed by Armani

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Spider Silk from Metabolically Engineered Bacteria

Recycling plastic to make the fabric is good news, but maybe not so original as the next on the list. And that’s spider silk.

This insect produces thread-like proteins called spider silk and uses it to catch other animals, while the nets also protect its offspring. For decades, researchers have tried to find ways to utilize this silk as a thread and make it into fabrics.

It seems like the breakthrough has finally happened since Canadian company Bolt Threads has announced its plans to launch spider-silk clothing line later this year. However, their type of spider silk is actually produced in the laboratory, as seen in the video bellow.

By using genetically engineered yeasts, the company found a way to produce spider silk through fermentation. As the yeast cells ferment, protein fibers are released and then centrifuged, producing threads that can be woven into fabrics. Its fibers are thinner than a human hair but stronger than steel.

While the process needs to be proven and modified for mass production, we live in interesting times, and this innovation can lead to us wearing clothes made of spider silk. Take that Spiderman!

Label on spider-silk material, one of the new eco-friendly fabrics

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Yarn and Fabric from Hagfish Slime Thread

Hagfish is proof that nature has cruel and twisted humor. As one of the creepiest living things in the world, this slim-producing fish is something you never want to see in person. The gruesome-looking creature protects itself from predators by producing gooey materials made of slimy thread cells and mucin – a type of protein.

Dissolved in water, these threads become strands of super-tough fibers that researchers from the University of Guelph in Canada now trying to turn into a functional material by reassembling the thread and spinning it into a fabric that is as strong as nylon.

They have been able to harvest the slimy threads and looking for ways to transplant the slime genes bacteria. If they are successful, the hagfish thread can be potentially cultured on an industrial scale and available to the worldwide market.

There is still a long way to go, but this type of producing eco-friendly fabrics is quite possible.

The Future Is Here

While the 21st century didn’t bring flying cars and food in the form of tablets (yet) it did wake the conscience of people about the environment. Some are still asleep, but globally people have started to take more care about their impact on the planet and turning to greener options.

Spike in interest has contributed to the development of many “green” products, including new and eco-friendly fabrics. Some of them are still in developing stages, but it is interesting to imagine how the textile and fashion industry will evolve in the next couple of years. And sewing with spider silk or hagfish slime thread will be truly something special.

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