You might not have expected it of Freitag. A Swiss company that we've written about for its creation of recycled bags from truck tarps, Freitag took on a big and unexpected 5-year goal – compostable fabrics.
Freitag set itself on this end goal because of a simple need: robust work clothing for warehouse and factory employees. What the company found was that tough, sustainably produced, and compostable textile material made in Europe didn't yet exist.
So they decided to develop their own. It wasn't entirely straightforward to find one plant-based fabric that would meet all the requirements of sustainable production, durability, and then compostability.
Eventually Freitag settled on a blend of hemp, flax, and modal (from cellulose), and called their new textile F-abric. All production of F-abric takes place in a 2,500 mile radius of Zurich, Freitag's headquarters. While many of us wouldn't exactly consider this 'local' it is a step up from the fast fashion journey many items we wear today take from origin to our bodies.
What also sets F-abric apart is the low level of chemicals used in its cultivation and processing, which allows the Freitag F-abric to get certification to the Oeko-Tex® standard. Once the screw-off buttons are removed, the F-abric jeans will break down in commercial composting in a few months, the company said.
While thus far F-abric clothing - there are chinos, long and short t-shirts, and a workdress - is only available in Freitag stores, mostly in Europe, the good news for us in North America will be if a sustainably-oriented mainstream company - perhaps Levi's - will take on this type of project for our continent.
There have been some efforts to that effect, and H&M is working with some more 'sustainable' fabrics, yet until consumers take this into account in their clothes shopping they will likely be boutique-y endeavors. Up to 5% of the trash sent to the dung heap is clothes (over 10 million tons of fiber) so worth thinking about as a way to make fashion less 'fast' and more earth-friendly.