An informed consumer is a true friend of the environment. But with the quantity of information floating about both online and through word-of-mouth, those wanting to make wise alternatives can very easily be overwhelmed and misled.
Thankfully, a brand new guide is out there to help! Calling itself the “ultimate eco-fiber reference guide for textiles professionals, design students, fashion and interior designers, product manufactures, and home sewers who want more environmentally responsible fabric options,”A Guide to Green Fabrics by Kristene Smith is a comprehensive tour guide to eco-friendly fabrics. I personally appreciate that this really is genuinely a book for everyone whether or not you are a member of a knitting circle or an aspiring fashion designer. We can all make a difference with our fabric choice.
As Smith states, “The textiles and apparel industry, with its massive economic engine, touches every life. From clothes and bedding to car interiors and medical supplies, textiles are indeed woven into our collective fabric of life.” The production of textiles affects every person from the farmers who grow the crop to the factory worker that readies the fabric for the consumer who buys it. Smith acknowledges that a lot of consumers lack an overall understanding of how textiles impact the environment so “textile producers must take the lead in promoting these new innovations to attract like-minded consumers and their resources, and to educate customers on the benefits of going green.”
This quite informative book is comprehensive and easy to navigate having a well-organized table of contents that separates chapters by fabric type from abaca to wild nettle. And inside the chapter, Smith talks about production, fabric traits along with the environmental impacts and positive aspects of each and every fabric.
What earned bamboo a spot in this book as both an eco-friendly and consumer-friendly fabric? Green Guide breaks it down into an effortless bullet point list of characteristics:
- Abrasion resistant, non-irritating
- 300% more absorbent than cotton
- Does not need agricultural tending, tractors or planting devices
- Biodegradable (mechanical production only)
- Breathable, thermal regulating, cool
- Deodorizes, keeps you odor free and smelling fresh
- Outstanding draping qualities, much like silk
- Takes well to dyes
- More elastic than cotton
- Enriches the soil
- Insulating, keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter
- Naturally lustrous, similar to silk
- Grows without need for pesticides or fertilizers
- Avoids pilling and shrinkage
- Resilient and durable
- Extremely soft, silky hand, feels like cashmere
- Naturally strong fiber
- Sustainable resource, grows plentifully
- Naturally UV resistant
- Exceptional moisture wicking abilities
Beyond the bullet points, Smith takes time to clarify every single characteristic. By way of example, the anti-bacterial property is attributed towards the presence of a bio-agent referred to as bamboo kun that is bound tightly to the bamboo’s cellulose molecular structure making bamboo fabric a great selection for towels, bedding and organic baby clothing.
Smith also tackles a controversy, one that continues on between bamboo producers and the FTC, and that is the one relating to the manufacturing of bamboo as well as the labeling of bamboo merchandise. Explaining the distinction between chemical processing and the mechanical processing, Smith makes it less difficult for consumers to read labels and advises that they look for particular certifications like Oeko-Tex to authenticate its eco-friendliness.