Friday, November 13, 2009

Sustainable Fabrics

by Taylir Villanova, ASID Eco Committee Member 
Tatterdemalion, ASID Industry Partner
When I first heard of sustainable fabrics, I was flabbergasted. I had never thought of fabric as not being green. I thought that fabric was made from fibers, these fibers were natural and, therefore, the fabrics must be natural too.

Well, not quite. What I had failed to take into account was: a) How the fibers were grown, and: b) What processes the fibers went through to become a fabric -- two vital pieces of information.

When I started doing some research, I found that most “fabric” fibers are being grown on large industrialized fields where they use pesticides and chemicals to “treat” the plants. When harvested, the fibers go through even harsher chemical treatments in order to break them down to be processed and woven into fabric. I thought there must be a safer, less toxic way!

Hemp has been used for hundreds of years by people all over the world, including one of our founding fathers, George Washington, to make rope. Hemp is an amazing plant. It actually acts as a natural pesticide and doesn’t require any toxic chemicals to protect it from insects. It eliminates the need for harsh chemical toxins and pollutants. And not just for the hemp plant itself, but for any plants growing around it, including vegetables we eat. When compared to the same acreage of forest, hemp actually cleans the air 5% faster than trees. Hemp is one of the most durable fibers there is, making it one of the most durable fabrics available (an example of 100% hemp fabric is shown at right, and examples of fabric made from 60% hemp/40% silk charmeuse are shown above and below.)

Cotton, another fabric that people buy a lot of, is the most heavily sprayed field crop on the planet. Did you know that in California 1¼ lbs of agricultural chemicals is used to produce the conventionally-grown cotton in a single set of queen-size sheets? This can’t be healthy for us or the environment. Did you know that if you were to grow that same amount of cotton between rows of hemp, there would be no need for the pesticides?

It’s time to select our fabrics with our health and environment in mind.

For more information please check out our web-site, click on “Products and Services”, and then click on “Green Fabrics”. Or, if you would like to contact me directly, my name is Taylir Villanova and my phone number is 877.629.2299. I will be happy to help you with any green workroom concerns and any green fabric questions you have. Please note that we offer a full line of sustainable fabrics.