Here at Lovejennr HQ (basically my laptop and an extremely overloaded desk) I am tirelessly searching for the next buzz in sustainable and eco friendly textile production. Recently I have ventured into the world of vegan fabrics, as I endeavour to create a range of silky scarves made from, guess what, NO SILK!
While I am a huge fan of Peace Silk and the ethical and sustainable methods used by the manufacturers we have carefully chosen to supply our silk, I envisage printing our designs on a completely non-animal derived fabric. One with the same luxurious qualities as silk of course!
Unfortunately many vegan fabrics, being man made, have a hugely damaging impact on the environment (not to mention the unethical working practises that come with the mass production of these fabrics.) However, new technologies in textile manufacturing have allowed for some very exciting developments in the range of organic and recycled non – organic raw materials being used to produce fibres ethically and sustainably.
One remarkable achievement is that of a fabric produced entirely from waste orange peel Yes really! But until fabrics like this are more readily available, here is a break down of some vegan and earth friendly alternatives to silk including links on where to find out more….
Modal and Lyocell
For me these are the big hitters due to how closely the fibres imitate the soft, drapey feel of silk.
Lyocell is the second generation of Modal a fabric produced from wood pulp. Lyocell is sustainable because it is produced from renewable trees. Moreover, it uses far less water than cotton, in its production.
Tencel is a brand of Lyocell that is committed to environmentally sound production.
Good ol’ reliable Linen. It has long been a more eco friendly alternative to cotton and very lightweight mixes offer a soft breathable fabric, a good alternative to lightweight silks!
Linen only requires rain water to grow unlike cotton. It is soft, breathable and can be mixed with other fabrics. It requires fewer harmful chemicals in its production and is completely biodegradable. HURRAH!
Recycled polyester is made from the same material used to make plastic drinking bottles. The material in its raw form is called PET and turning PET into garments we can wear over and over again, prevents it going to landfill. Wonderfully satiny textures can be created from rPET and therefore it makes a great alternative to silk.
Recycled polyester also takes much less energy to produce than normal polyester and when you are finished with your garment, if it isn’t passed on for someone else to use, it can be recycled again!
There has recently been a lot written in the media about how the manufacturing of cotton is simply not sustainable. Just one of many sobering facts: 20000 litres of water are needed to produce just 1 kg of cotton, that is the equivalent to one top and pair of trousers!
Organic cotton is a better friend to the planet. No harmful chemicals are used to help grow the cotton and much less water is needed. It is, by no means the most eco friendly material out there, but it is a good alternative to non organic cotton.
Hemp is a champion in the league of eco friendly, natural and sustainable fabrics. It doesn’t require any pesticides and retains water well due to its root structure, therefore can be grown organically with ease. It is breathable, bacteria inhibiting and completely biodegradable. What’s not to like!
Hemp can be mixed with other fabrics and technological advancements in fabric production allow for softer fibres and shearer densities to be rendered thus enabling Hemp to shake off its heavy, rough reputation of the past.
Personally I am very excited to explore how our prints turn out on lyocell and lyocell mixes this year and have also just ordered some swatches of recycled polyester to trial!
I am also day dreaming about summer headscarves made from lightweight organic linens and cottons…..So many options for the conscious consumer!