INNOVATIVE MATERIALS: SUSTAINABILITY
It can often be overwhelming and daunting reading and researching about what fabrics are sustainable and the reasons why. Just when you think you know why a particular fabric should be considered sustainable, you then find out a reason why it shouldn't be.
What we have learnt is that there is no such as a 'perfect' fabric. Sustainability is a long game. It is the issues such as fast-fashion that are the major problem as it is too fast-paced and therefore not sustainable for our environment.
When we look at recycled fabrics, this brings other problems of their own. For example, Recycled Polyester (rPET - recycled PET bottles) is often deemed sustainable and eco-friendly, as it is already using a product in existence. Even though recycling plastic uses less energy than processing virgin plastic, it is still a product made from petroleum derived chemicals, and contains a variety of chemicals within.
Recycling plastic requires a lot of heat which degrades the durable qualities of the plastic, and in turn, the recycled product cannot be recycled again, therefore ends up in landfill.
For the textiles world, Recycled Polyester does not help the waste produced within the textile industry, as it uses waste (PET bottles) from a different industry. In both these instances, it is not a circular material.
However, we all must try to be to be more conscious, and Recycled Polyester products are a much more eco-friendly purchase if the end-product needs the longevity and durability of plastic, than its conventional virgin product.
There are so many new and exciting developments to look out for. Innovative materials are always being researched but bringing them to a commercial scale is much more difficult. So let's generate the interest to help get more sustainable textiles onto the market to substitute those materials that aren't so.
Things you may have already heard of and to look out for are:
- Piñatex® - a textile made from the fibre from waste pineapple leaves
- Atlantic leather - leather from fish skin, a by-product of the fishing industry, utilising raw material that would not otherwise be used
- Leather alternatives made with fibres from Mangoes or Apples
- Natural Cellulosic fibres:
- Orange Fiber - from citrus juicing by-products, spun into a lightweight, silk-like yarn that can be blended with other fibres or used alone.
- SeaCell® - cellulose-based fibre combined with brown algae to produce a fabric which the company believes its structure facilitates the active exchange of nutrients between the fibre and the skin.
- Casein - the protein fibre of milk. At Swicofil, bio-engineering allows a wet spinning process of the protein spinning fluid, embedding micro zinc ions into the fibre improving its strength. This fibre is said to be moisturising and healthy for skin, with the allowance for bright colours due to good dyeability.
- MycoTEX® - Mycelium is the network of all the threads of a fungus, (also called the root of the mushroom) with insulating and moisture-absorbing properties. The growth of mycelium can be controlled and engineered to produce the properties required in a fabric.
Using what is already in existence, we have the technology to develop and explore what our amazing planet has to offer us. This is just a small list of exciting ventures currently in processing, or already in execution, and just a snippet into what the future holds for us. The possibilities are endless!
Although our fabrics may not be as advanced as the ones listed above, take a look at the sustainable dressmaking fabrics we currently have here at A KIND CLOTH!