Eco-Tip: Mini Directory of Green Fabrics
We are often asked by readers where to find suppliers of particular eco-materials, so they might join the fray and green their own product. The answer is most likely lurking in our archive of 10,000+ articles, and we would encourage use of the search function to explore these. But on this occasion we will take pity on reader Owen T. and compile a little list of green textiles in one location. Recycled polyester fleece and bodywear fabrics can be sourced from Malden Mills, famous for their Polartec range (though last month the company did file for bankruptcy - they have done this before and survived - we wish them another phoenix-like rise). Some of the recycled post and pre-consumer fibre they use is Repreve and comes from Unifi of Japan. Unifi also supply Consoltex, who make a organic cotton/nylon blended fabric, called Earth While (cute, huh?). The polyester recycling process Patagonia are using for their Common Threads program is via another Japanese company, Teijin, in a program they know as EcoCircle. Hoyutex in Taiwan have a rugged fabric, Cyclepet, fashioned from recycled PET drink bottles. Much more after the fold >Other petroleum based fabrics include Xorel, a polyethylene textile designed to be used instead of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) materials for upholstery and office screens. Recycled and recyclable nylon we know is being worked on for apparel, but at the moment commercial application is mostly limited to the likes of carpeting, as evidenced by Enviro6ix
If natural fabrics are more your loom then there is organic wool for heavy-duty industrial applications, and organic wool for softer clothing and homewares. We’ve also run a story on yarns made of both alpaca wool and recycled silk from pre-loved saris. Listed a whole cocoon of sustainable silk suppliers, when we asked the question if silk could be green? Looked at fabric made, under fair trade arrangements, from natural latex tapped from Amazonian rubber trees. (And even buttons made of tagua nut - the vegetal ivory.) Hemp fabrics can be obtained from numerous sources, with Rawganique (organic European hemp), Hemp Traders and Envirotextile being only three in this game. Of course there is that new standby of organic cotton. These days there are a multitude of suppliers, but one place to find many gathered around the same waterhole is the Organic Exchange. We’ve found a supplier of post industrial recycled cotton too, and a company that makes textiles from stinging nettles. And if that weren’t crazy enough we noted a distributor of cloth made from cork. Wait. We haven’t finished with the weird ones just yet. Try to imagine a fabric crafted from treebark.
Speaking of trees, it was the development of Tencel, a new man-made textile that uses a renewable natural feedstock (wood pulp), that spurred a forest of similar fibres. For instance we’ve end up with Lenpur, a fibre suited to lingerie, even through its origin is white pine trees. And then there is that Treehugger fave, bamboo, made via a like technology. Two of the major suppliers of which are Tenbro and Bambrotex. In Europe, the latter is represented by Swicofil, who also host a range of other interesting eco-fabrics. In the US, you could try Spun Bamboo, who look like they do a custom line of fabrics from this amazing grass. (Not that their website gives much away.) or if seeking something more personalised considered the hand woven bamboo fabrics by Lynn Caldwell. Borrowing from similar technology comes Seacell, a man-made cellulose fabric with a seaweed base, as the name might suggest. We first reviewed it here. And let’s not neglect the sleeper textile, with probably the most marketing clout behind it. Ingeo, is made from corn. But as we warned long ago, US corn production is so heavily ensnared in the genetically modified organism trap that Cargill Dow can’t say whether their product has a GMO content or not. In the UK try as a Cloverbrook as supplier of Ingeo cloth (they once had their own recycled polyester fleece line too.) If in the US market, you are dreaming of something in the hemp, organic cotton, organic linen, soy or bamboo scheme of things then Pickering International might have what you need.
And that is just is a smattering of the green inspired textiles that grace our pixels. You’ll find many more links and references by dropping the words that interest you into our search box up there on the top right of the page. Enjoy the hunt. No foxes nor hounds required.