It’s no surprise that consumers are investing in new products that offer an elevated sense of reassurance and comfort in their primary living spaces. In a reaction to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and with added time at home, many are re-examining the material implications of the products they live with and educating themselves on ‘healthier’ options. Synthetic fibers, much like plastics, are being replaced with organic, natural alternatives that feature a surprising range of inherent benefits - both environmentally and functionally.
We’ve shortlisted 5 fibers that should be considered when developing any healthy home soft goods collection to enhance your brands ‘conscious’ credentials.
Considered to be the strongest of all natural fibres, linen is a natural fibre with a lower environmental impact than cotton alternatives. Made from the stalks of flax plants, which are resilient species that can grow in poor soils requiring very little if any fertilizer, linen production process has been found to be significantly less water intensive than that for cotton, reducing the eco-footprint of the final product. Almost all of the flax plant can be used, and due to the demand for flax seeds and oils increasing in the health food industry, there is very little to no wastage of the natural resource. But the benefits of linen don’t stop there—as linen fibres are hollow they allow more airflow over your body than other materials. Linen is also highly absorbent, gaining up to 20% of its dry weight in moisture without feeling damp to touch. This makes linen perfect for bedding and sheets as it allows for a cool, comfortable and breathable sleep experience.
Many consumers would be surprised to learn that jute is the second most used textile material worldwide after cotton, and is considerably more sustainable. Unlike traditional cottons, Jute requires no pesticides to grow and requires far less water. In recent years Jute applications have expanded from rugs to heavy wovens and tactile cushions as consumers look to bring more organic textures into their living spaces. Jute is also known for its inherent insulation and antistatic properties, reducing skin irritation and softening acoustics. These properties, combined with the natural strength of the jute fibers, make it both an economical and appropriate material choice for high-traffic home spaces.
‘Organic Cotton’ refers to cotton materials that have not been genetically modified and are grown without synthetic additives or pesticides. In contrast to conventional cottons, organic cotton is grown naturally and thus, greatly reduces the environmental pollutants caused by pesticides that negatively impact soil fertility and damage biodiversity. Organic cottons also reduce the impact of toxins on farmers, which due to repeated exposure, can lead to life threatening illness. Organic cotton is breathable, lightweight and is extremely versatile in its woven applications, from bedding and sheets to towels and upholstery.
Hemp is gaining increased consumer demand due to its inherent low-tox and allergy-friendly properties. One of the stronger natural fibers, Hemp is also naturally hypoallergenic and non- skin irritating, making it particularly attractive for high traffic and kid-friendly spaces. For eco-conscious consumers, hemps’ low environmental cultivation impact offers an even greener alternative to other natural fibers. This is due to the fibers inherent resistance to insect species, reducing the requirement for pesticides, and its ability to grow with less water. Consumers who consider hemp to be too rustic of a natural fiber choice will be surprised to learn that the fiber is also found in many blends, giving it the ability to produce soft and luxurious hand feels comparable to those of cottons and linens.
Bamboo is perhaps one of the most eco-friendly and versatile fibers available on the market. In recent years consumers have become increasingly educated on the many applications of this renewable resource, from textiles and soft furnishings to accessories and furniture. In many categories, bamboo fiber is being utilized as a sustainable plastic alternative. These sustainable credentials come from the extremely fast growing plants ability to grow with less water, pesticides and labour than other natural fibers including cotton. Made from the pulp of bamboo grass, fibers are spun and woven into cloth to create a material with many health benefits. Bamboo is naturally antibacterial, keeping fabrics odour free, and highly moisture wicking for a comfortable dry touch. In addition, the hypoallergenic properties of bamboo make it perfect for indoor spaces with frequent skin contact.
For added sustainability and non-toxic credentials, consider utilizing natural dyes made from vegetables and pigments or simply celebrate the organic state of these textiles for an undyed ‘conscious’ collection.
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