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The New Sustainable Textiles You Need to Know About

The textile and fashion industry is taking action to become more sustainable and ethical. Brands all over the world are adopting new practices, like recycling and repairing services, as well as introducing new eco-friendly materials to their collections.

The entire industry is looking at a constant innovation that goes from recycling waste from the landfills and transforming them into ready-to-use yarns, to designing highly engineered fibers. These are the new sustainable textiles that are changing our clothes’ DNA.

Tencel

Tencel is a very popular fabric nowadays and that is due to its multiple properties and its unique fiber structure. It has antimicrobial and moisture wicking qualities, and it uses thermo-regulating technology, which makes it perfect for both summer and winter. It will keep you dry and cool during hot days, as well as warm and fresh during the cold season.


In addition, this innovative textile is highly breathable 一it can absorb up to 50% of the sweat一 and it provides a silky smooth feel, making it an ideal fabric for people with sensitive skin or propense to allergies.

Tencel, also known as Tencel Lyocell, is a type of rayon made from wool pulp. Once the wood chips are sourced and mixed with solvents, the resulting cellulose is dissolved and dried through a spinning process. This wet mixture is then transformed into threads, which are finally spun into the yarn.

Tencel is considered to be sustainable because, as it is a plant-derived fiber, is therefore biodegradable. Moreover, its manufacturing process requires less energy and water than other natural fabrics like conventional cotton. And it also requires less dye.

The most renowned brand using Tencel is outdoor label Patagonia. Following its lead, we can find Canadian brand TenTree and Copenhagen-based company Organic Basics.

Piñatex

While only a few years ago leather was a coveted material in the fashion industry, today brands are actually running away from it and looking for cruelty free alternatives. Among the new generation of vegan leathers, we can find Piñatex.


It was created by Spanish scientist Carmen Hijosa, who founded Ananas-anam, the company responsible for the production of this new textile. Piñatex is made of pineapple leafs, which until now were left to decompose in the ground, as there was no use for them. For instance, over 27 million tons of pineapple leaves are discarded every year worldwide.

Because it is a pineapple harvest by-product, its production doesn’t require further land, water or natural resources than the ones needed for the crop of said fruit. It is made of 95% renewable materials and it reduces the carbon footprint of the textile industry significantly. In fact, the company has become carbon neutral since 2020.

Several luxury brands, such as Chanel and Hugo Boss, have already introduced Piñatex to their collections, designing shoes, bags and clothes. Outdoor and sportswear labels, like Puma and Camper, have also adopted this new material for its flexibility and durability.

In similar news, you should take a look at these Fiber Tracking Technologies.

Recycled polyester

Recycled polyester 一also known as RPET一 has arrived as a temporary and sustainable solution to plastic waste. It is often made from post-consumer plastic bottles, marine plastics (like fishing nets) and textile waste. As a consequence, recycled polyester doesn’t use non-renewable resources as raw production material, like virgin polyester does.

Because of its strength and durability, this long-lasting fiber has gained popularity among brands that design swimwear, sportswear, loungewear and outdoor garments as well.


Recycled polyester is an eco-friendly alternative because it reduces the use of energy, land and the emission of greenhouse gases. As well, it minimizes the dependency on fossil fuels. In addition, it prevents and diverts plastic waste from finishing up in the oceans or landfills.

There are two methods to recycle polyester: a chemical and a mechanical recycling. The chemical process is more ecological because the plastic waste can be brought back to its original stage several times 一that is identical to virgin polyester一 without losing quality. Nevertheless, it is more expensive than the mechanical recycling.

This last one consists of shredding the plastic waste into tiny flakes or chips, and then melting and transforming them into recycled polyester pallets. These pallets are melted once again and pulled through spinnerets to make the durable, yet soft yarn. Although it is cheaper, the mechanical process makes the fibers shorter and weaker every time they are recycled.

Ecoalf, Patagonia, Mara Horffman, GOEX and Girlfriend Collective are just some of the brands who choose recycled polyester.

Amni soul eco

This might be the most revolutionary fiber of this new generation of eco-friendly textiles. And that’s because it is the world’s first biodegradable yarn. Amni soul eco is a recyclable and reusable nylon developed and produced by company Solvay.

It looks like any other synthetic fiber, yet its composition is very different. Amni’s chemical structure is made of an enhanced polyamide that allows bacteria penetration, accelerating the fabric degradation process. It actually takes 3-5 years to decompose, which is a major difference if compared to the 50 years that it takes for a conventional polyamide to decompose. Amni soul eco is ten times faster.



In other words, it is not just an eco-friendly fabric because it is made of recycled materials, but it also addresses the end of its lifecycle, which no other synthetic fiber does. Once the textile biodegrades, the remains can be used for producing electricity or they can also be transformed into new environmental resources.

Its production requires less clean water (as all water is reused) and it is toxic free. Moreover, Amni recycled nylon reduces CO2 emissions and the small percentage of gasses created are taken care of before they are released into the environment.

Amni soul eco is resistant, durable, breathable, high-performance and soft, which makes it ideal for lingerie, hosiery, underwear, jeanswear, sportswear and beachwear. Brands using this new fiber include Save The Duck, Aurai, Mara Hoffman, Nawake and Lilikoi.

We also recommend reading The New Science of Eco Zinc.

References

I. Wolfe, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://goodonyou.eco/brands-using-recycled-plastic/

M.V. Elven, 2018. [Online]. Available: https://fashionunited.uk/news/fashion/how-sustainable-is-recycled-polyester/2018111540000

The Honest Consumer, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.thehonestconsumer.com/blog/tencel-clothing-brands

K. Martinko, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.treehugger.com/what-is-pinatex-5074666

Materials, Tentree. [Online]. Available: https://www.tentree.com/pages/materials

The Honest Consumer, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.thehonestconsumer.com/blog/clothing-made-from-recycled-plastic

Our Fiber Eco-Review, Sustain your style. [Online]. Available: https://www.sustainyourstyle.org/en/fiber-ecoreview#:~:text=Eucalyptus%20trees%20grow%20quickly%20without,to%20be%20even%20more%20sustainable.

Conscious fashion, Solvay. [Online]. Available: https://www.solvay.com/en/brands/conscious-fashion-amni-soul-eco

J.M. Chua, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.commonobjective.co/article/is-recycled-polyester-green-or-greenwashing

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