Green Clothes

Everyone looks better in green clothes!

Soy Fabric – The Vegetable Cashmere

Yes, we’ve written about soy fabric before, but we find the idea fascinating!  So we’ve done a little more research.

Our world is changing quickly and that too not in all good ways that we would have wanted to see it changing but in bad ways too.  All the anthropogenic activities have caused immense damage to the environment that we live in and that is the reason that today we live in a world that is becoming hotter by the day. If we do not become cautious today then we will leave a barren, resource less world to our next generation who will hold us responsible for destroying this world which was once beautiful. The caution has to start today and from the activities that we heedlessly perform everyday without even considering what effect they would have on our environment.

One of these heedless activities that we never ever considered to be harmful or even affecting our environment was the way we dressed and the materials that we bought as fabrics. Cotton is one of our most preferred clothing product and if we look at the cost of growing cotton and producing cotton clothes that is paid by the environment; it is immense and we totally overlook it. Right from the growth of cotton crop to the production of cotton fibre and making of cotton cloth, the practices are highly damaging to the eco-system.

When it comes to eco-friendly fabrics we hear about organic cotton again. But growing organic cotton still has considerably higher impact on the eco-system. A much more eco-friendly fabric that world is coming across now is the soy fabric. Yes, soy; which is known for the milk to be used for preparing our coffee or as an ingredient in our hand creams and the candles, can now be turned into fibre to make clothes for us which are not only very eco-friendly but also very healthy, comfortable and stylish in wearing.

What is it exactly, then, that makes soy fabric so good? Well, to start off we must look at the environmental side of it as we started with the issue of considering the environmental side with our clothing selection. Soy fabric is fashioned out of a material known as hulls of soy. This was once considered to be a waste and had to be disposed off but now it is discovered that it can be used to form soy fibre that can be used in making excellent fabric to be used by humans.

Turning a waste into something worthwhile is good for environment. Secondly, the soy fabric is completely biodegradable which can be very easily understood as we know that it is a by product of what was basically a vegetable. Then there is the fact that soy has a much lesser impact on environment and eco-system as compared to growing even the organic cotton. It takes much less off the soil and requires no pesticides, which means no damage to the eco system and to the ozone layer. Thus, we know that soy fabrics are completely eco-friendly from all aspects.

Now we must move on to the other areas that were that primary selection criteria for choosing clothing. Comfort, style and pricing. To start with, soy fabrics are extremely comfortable as they are porous in nature. This means that they do not trap air and keep your body easily ventilated all the time. This makes you sweat less even in the hot days. Then there is the quality that it is highly absorbing and quickly drying which means that even if you sweat, it will not make you feel uncomfortable like most of the man-made fabrics like polyester.

Soy fabric has amino acids in it which are responsible for making our blood circulation better. They are suitable for all skin types. Some of the research also identifies that soy fabric has collagen in it which is good for your skin.

Soy fabric is so soft and drapes so well that it has been given the title of vegetable cashmere. So if it is styling that you are looking forward to soy fabric is the fabric for you. The pricing is a bit higher than ordinary clothing but that is because of the fact that soy is obtained from all organic sources and also because of the fact that it is just a recent discovery. But I personally feel happy to pay a bit extra to keep healthy personally and to keep my environment safe.

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Eco-Friendly Fabrics

So what determines the environmental friendliness or eco-friendly materials and substances are the current buzzwords of today? Everyone is looking for materials that are not harmful to Mother Nature rather on the contrary they are complementing to the nature. In the past, the only basis of selection for our clothing was either style or price but now there is an addition to this criterion as well. Environmental friendliness has also been integrated into the criterion of cloth selection and that is the primary reason why eco-friendly fabrics are gaining prominence every day. Eco-friendly fabrics have been there for quite some time but it is now, due to increased environmental awareness, that everyone is taking interest in them.

Apart from the hue and cry raised by the environmentalists and the awareness created for saving Mother-Nature there is the factor that these eco-friendly fabrics are also better for the health of the user than using the ordinary clothes that we wear ordinarily every day. The reason for eco-friendly fabrics being better for ordinary everyday user’s health is that they are not taken from polluted sources. All eco-friendly fabrics are grown or manufactured in a very environment friendly manner which includes the condition that there is no use made of harmful chemicals like pesticides.  Why does this matter?  Intensive scientific testing has proven that the human body actually absorbs the residual chemicals from the fibers that are woven into clothing!

Some of the eco-friendly fabrics available for your better choices today are:

•  Organic cotton
•  Hemp
•  Bamboo
•  Soy (Wha?!  Yes, Soy.  See our other articles about soy.)

To make sure that the eco-friendly fabrics are really eco-friendly and not bogus claims, there are strict measures that the producers and manufacturer of such fabrics have to follow. First of all, the criterion is to use no chemicals or pesticides on your crops if you are using naturally grown material for your fabric. This constitutes to “organic”  designation.  If you are not using natural crops to make eco-friendly fabrics you should use completely biodegradable material with no harmful chemicals used in dying or other processes of fabric formation. If the material is not biodegradable it must completely obtained from recycled resources.  This is what is referred to as “sustainable” material.

The checks and balances are not only reserved for the manufacturing and pre-manufacturing part but even small things such as transportation of these materials from the country of origin to the country of consumption or processing is also brought into consideration when awarding the title of eco-friendly fabrics to any fabric. Hence, the criterion covers every aspect from plant growth to the transportation of these materials and the product that satisfies each of these standards is then titled as eco-friendly fabric.

Eco-friendly fabrics are undoubtedly better both for the consumer directly and the environment that we live in but there is one downside to these eco-friendly fabrics as well. This down side is the extra price that such materials cost to you. Growing crops such as cotton and jute without using pesticides is costly. Similarly, replacing chemicals in dying and manufacturing process makes the production of the final product more expensive than ordinary. And lastly the transportation criterion for eco-friendly fabrics also contributes in raising the cost quite a bit. This is the reason why all such eco-friendly products cost so much more than ordinary products, and eco-friendly fabrics is no exception. This limits the affordability of such materials only to the well off people.

While not every piece of fabric can lay claim to all of different “green” criteria of being sustainable,  organic or fair trade, they are all positive steps in the right direction of dressing in harmony with Earth.

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5 Sustainable Clothing Trends in Fabrics

Apr-12-2009
Eco Fabrics

The terms ‘sustainable clothing’ and ‘organic clothing’ are often used together and both essentially belong to the same genre of eco-friendly clothing materials. Although, they serve the same purpose and can be broadly classified as Green eco-fashion materials there are a few minor difference between the two. The difference doesn’t lie in their approach to the concept of being green or eco-friendly but their origins.

While organic clothing evolved from the movement of organically developed materials, sustainable clothing is more of an environmental consciousness that is slowly gaining momentum. Sustainable clothing also emphasizes upon the recycling of goods in our daily use. Essentials for a clothing material to be considered suited for ecological purposes, i.e. being sustainable:

  • Clothing material is derived from renewable/recycled raw materials
  • Efficient use of production resources such as energy, manpower and water with preference for using renewable inputs for manufacturing
  • Creating absolutely safe clothing material with regards to consumer health and the environment

Some Of The Most Noteworthy Materials Used In Sustainable Clothing

1. Bamboo

Bamboo is best suited for clothing meant for the hotter temperatures. It can absorb the sweat and lets it evaporate within seconds. This creates a natural mechanism of dispelling heat and maintaining fabric breathability. New fabrics being created from bamboo are equally adept for keeping you warmer in colder conditions. Bamboo-created clothing is naturally anti-bacterial and odor free.

How is it sustainable?

  • Bamboo grows without any artificial assistance, i.e. it is totally natural and sustainable as it doesn’t need pesticides and fertilizers
  • Bamboo plant is not uprooted like other plants. This helps to maintain the soil’s stability.
  • Bamboo yield in terms of per acre is nearly 10 times more than that for cotton
  • More bamboo plantations will mean more neutralization of greenhouse gases

2. Lyocell

This is produced from the cellulose found in wood. This makes Lyocell one of the purest forms of sustainable clothing. The fabric adheres to all quality demands meant for medical or technical compatibility.

How is it sustainable?

  • Its production is extremely eco-friendly and doesn’t use harmful dyes and chemicals and the Lyocell fiber is 100% bio-degradable
  • The end product is strikingly similar to cotton and hence, this makes it a very useful substitute for current manufacturing demands
  • Since, it is derived from wood, it can be regarded as the most replenishable and hence, the most sustainable form of clothing
  • Cellulose extraction uses nearly negligible artificially-produced extraction agents

3. Hemp

It is famous for being the most durable among all natural fibers and is often called the miracle fiber. It is lightweight, long-lasting, highly-absorbent and much stronger than other fibers. It is best suited for outdoor wear being weather resistant.

How is it sustainable?

  • Hemp crop does not need pesticides and uses a very little amount of water
  • It is known for enriching the soil where it is grown since it has an exhaustive root system which also helps to prevent soil-erosion
  • Extremely cost-effective to grow and has minimal agricultural requirements

4. Soy Fiber

Soy blended or pure soy fiber clothing has some excellent qualities like having a luster that is similar to silk and absorbs moisture like cotton. However, it offers the best of ventilation when compared with these two conventional fabrics.

How is it sustainable?

  • Its manufacturing is an example of bioengineering and proteins are extracted from sources like soybean oil and soymilk
  • This makes it a recycled product, since it is akin to creating something useful from a conventional manufacturing process
  • It is highly sustainable since by-products like soybean dregs are further used as fodder or natural fertilizer

5. Organic Cotton

Organic cotton is a huge improvement over the traditionally-grown cotton. For starters, it is grown following strict regulations that prevent the use of chemicals that can enter the fiber. Even its harvesting is less automated to ensure that the soil isn’t being drained. Perhaps, the only natural resource it does drain to a certain extent is water.

How is it sustainable?

  • Organic cotton is grown in a manner that actually replenishes the ecosystem rather than exhausting its nutrients
  • It is grown without using conventional chemical/toxic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers
  • Only certified or organic facilities are allowed to procure/manufacture organic clothing and they use only low-impact dyes or mineral-based shades that don’t affect the consumers or the environment

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Soy, soy soft!

Since I love clothes almost as much as I love our beautiful earth, I’ve long been frustrated that I’ve not been able to find attractive and comfortable clothing that is also ethical and sustainable. I am all about celebrating the love of living green – even in our closets! I’m excited about the latest fabrics being used to paint your closet green, so I want to tell the world!

Okay, so I like me a little soy sauce, soy milk and edamame. I even like the occasional soy burger. But who would guess that my latest soy passion is my soybean SWEATER!? Before you create images of tofu cardigans, let me tell you why I’ve left behind my old love, cashmere, for my new love, soy!

In the first place, there are no humiliated, bald, Kashmir goats running around anywhere devouring precious crops to support my addiction. Soy has for over 5,000 years been a healthy and sustainable crop used in the production of consumables such as food and drugs, valued as an affordable source of oil and protein. But recently (relatively speaking) some clever chap figured out to take the spent fibers that remained as “waste” after the production of milk and tofu, and spin it into a fabulous fiber that can be woven into sensuous fabric with the elegant luster and drape of silk! I’ve gotta meet this guy!

Woven soy fabrics have a soft smooth hand, comparable to that of a silk and cashmere blend. And they are stronger than wool, cotton and silk. It is the only natural fiber that is resistant to both fungus and moths! I’ll save a fortune from moth destruction alone! Soy is more fade resistant, pill resistant, wrinkle resistant, shrink resistant than cotton and silk. It absorbs moisture like cotton, yet vents even better, not to mention that it is anti-bacterial while providing great UV protection. What better fabric for outdoor-wear can you imagine. And those precious little goats get to keep their winter coats!

So even if you aren’t on the Sierra Club‘s mailing list and never plan to be, you still have to try out this amazing new fabric because everyone looks better wearing Green Clothes!

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