In recent years, industry has tried to reduce its environmental impact by using eco-friendly materials. One of the main problems is related to the massive use of plastic in our daily lives. For this reason, attention has been focused on ecological composites, such as natural fibers, trying to make them cheaper and more convenient. The parameter that best defines the environmental impact of these materials is the associated energy referred to the agricultural, extraction, preparation and production operations related to the fibers and the materials consumed in these phases. Anydesign has made an important choice for its natural products by using productions and materials with the least impact on the environment. These are Jute, Hemp, Bamboo and Organic Cotton, Linen, Ramie and Tencel.
Jute. It is obtained from some plants of the Tiliacee family cultivated mainly in India and China. In order to obtain the fiber, the stems of the plants are dried, macerated and processed as to obtain linen. Because of its shiny and golden appearance it is also called gold fiber: all this makes it the second most common natural fiber in the world, after cotton. Jute is a 100% ecological fiber, biodegradable and recyclable. Each hectare of jute consumes +/- 15 tons of carbon dioxide and releases 11 tons of oxygen into the atmosphere. This plant actively and passively contributes to environmental improvement. A versatile fiber that can be used in combination with other fibers or materials. Among the advantages of jute, we can mention its anti-static and insulating properties, low thermal conductivity, moderate moisture retention, low coefficient of extensibility and high tensile strength. Jute is often used in the production of bags, reinforced bags for agricultural products, these same packages are then reused in the decoration sector. In recent years, there has been a strong growth in the production of jute packaging to replace plastic packaging.
Hemp. It has been cultivated by humans for thousands of years, but only in recent years has it been rediscovered, broken out of its niche and inspired a wide audience. The hemp plant is very robust, grows fast and is resistant to pests. In fact, it contains little protein, but many bitter substances and is therefore ignored by pests and insects. It is therefore not necessary to use pesticides in its cultivation. It also seems that this organic plant exerts a beneficial action on the soil on which it is cultivated. The fibers called “lint” are contained in the plant of the herbaceous family Cannabis sativa which grows in temperate-humid climates, mainly in China, India, Russia and Europe. The processing of the fiber is similar to that of linen: in the factories, the raw fiber is subjected to sorting and combing operations, in which the long fibers are separated from the shorter and poorer ones, which will be used to make ropes, bags and coverings. Hemp is a recyclable and hardly flammable material, it is a renewable raw material. Hemp fiber is very strong and durable, its fibers are an environmentally sustainable material because it has a low carbon footprint.
Bamboo. Among the textile fibers most appreciated by those who care about the environment there is certainly bamboo, a fiber with exceptional properties. First of all, it is extremely soft, with a hand feel comparable to that of silk. Then it is resistant: much more resistant than cotton fiber, for example. Bamboo fiber fabrics are also naturally anti-microbial and highly breathable: in simple terms, they do not tend to let moisture and sweat accumulate on the skin, with the unpleasant formation of odors that follows. Bamboo cultivation is also highly environmentally sustainable: the plant reaches maturity in about four years and can live up to a hundred years. Shrubs are capable of growing in few centimeters of soil and in extreme weather conditions, having a very limited need of irrigation. The antibacterial properties of the plant make the use of fertilizers and pesticides unnecessary; on the contrary, the cultivations improve the quality of the soil where they are placed. Think also that bamboo plants consume four times more C02 than trees and produce 35% more oxygen! Until not so long ago, it was a concern that fiber processing methods required the use of caustic soda and carbon disulfide, substances that are highly harmful to both textile workers and the environment. Recently, however, ‘gentle’ processing methods have been developed based on non-toxic agents and enzymes that can be reused many times. So today bamboo fiber is fully compliant with OEKO-TEX Standard 100.
Organic Cotton. Organic cotton is cotton grown using methods and products that have a low impact on the environment. For the production of organic cotton, organic production systems are used to fertilize the soil, eliminating the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, which are toxic and persistent in the cotton itself and in the environment. The production of organic cotton is certified by third-party organizations that are responsible for verifying that producers use only methods and products allowed in organic production. In addition to the ban on the use of toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, organic cotton, to be called organic, must not come from genetically modified seeds (GMOs). In Europe, the regulation that regulates the production of organic cotton is the EC regulation n°834/2007 of 28 June 2007. There are different certifications to guarantee that the cotton is organic, the most used certification for organic cotton is GOTS.
Linen. Linen is a cellulosic fiber derived from the stem of the flax plant. Its fiber has high tensile strength and elongation, is brighter and silkier than other natural textile fibers, and is a hygroscopic fabric, meaning it tends to absorb and release moisture very well.
Linen is environmentally friendly as it is grown without any need for irrigation or fertilizers, it just needs a favorable climate. The transformation processes have zero impact on the environment, maceration takes place in the sun and does not consume energy, scutching takes place through a mechanical treatment.
Linen is ethical because it contributes to the maintenance of the economic and social fabric in rural areas. Its cultivation and processing require an important, qualified and local workforce.
On request, the fabric can be certified OEKO-TEX®.
Ramiè. Ramiè is an ancient natural fiber of vegetable origin derived from horticultural plants.
The cellulose used to create Ramiè fiber that is environmentally friendly can be extracted mechanically (like other natural fibers) with textile certification such as OEKO-TEX®.
Ramiè is a cellulosic fiber and this makes it similar in characteristics to VISCOSA®. With the fiber of Ramiè it is possible to make clothing, but also cloths, bags, ropes, boat sails and some parts of shoes, as well as a type of very fine paper. The Ramiè fiber is 100% biodegradable. With this textile fiber is produced a neutral fabric that with the addition of Organic Cotton, Linen or Hemp acquires brightness and anti-wrinkle properties to the fabric.
Tencel. Tencel is a type of ecological fabric that is produced from Eucalyptus1 and Beech2 trees, of which the wood pulp is used. There are many advantages that derive from the use of this fiber, which is appreciated for its great strength and its ability to absorb moisture, as well as for its remarkable breathability.
Its versatility shows decidedly intense colors due precisely to the absorption capacity of the fibers mentioned earlier. Tencel is advantageous not only because its use is environmentally friendly, with an ecological impact reduced to a minimum, but also because it is practical and convenient (even biodegradable and able to decompose in a few days). The International Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), has declared TENCEL’s agricultural practices as sustainable: it eliminates the negative environmental impacts of traditional fiber processing, thanks to the use of new sustainable technologies and chemical extraction processes based on solvents that are not harmful to the environment and above all recyclable.
1The TENCEL™ Lyocell textile fiber is obtained from Eucalyptus trees grown by companies certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), respecting socially and environmentally responsible standards.
2The textile fiber TENCEL™ Modal is obtained from Beech trees and also in this case the companies are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).