When buying any furnishing or upholstery, I used to consider the following four points: color, size and price. I never thought about the fabric -how the fiber was grown and produced and also about how the fiber was processed to create fabric.
I have realised that in the past few years, I have become more aware and have made many adjustments to my lifestyle including the food items, beauty products and quality of drinking water. In this process of adopting the natural lifestyle, I explored how important it is to detoxify the furnishing or upholstery fabric we have at home. Which means switching to natural fibres from synthetic fibres.
Natural fibre simply refers to fabrics made from fibres found in nature-Plants and Animals. They fall into three main groups:
- Vegetable fibers which come from plants such as cotton, linen(made from flax), hemp, and flax;
- Protein fibers such as wool, alpaca, and cashmere which come from the wool and hair of animals. They are more exotic fibres.
- Strong elastic fibrous secretion of silkworm larvae in cocoons which is used to create silk.
As I was working on my natural fabric pillow collection, I discovered regenerated or recycled cotton as another great ecofriendly fabric. I could not stop my creative instincts and created a beautiful colorblock collection using 100% linen and regenerated cotton. I learnt that an estimated 40% of cotton that is grown is wasted between its harvest in the cotton field and the manufacturing of a finished product. This pre-consumer “waste” goes directly into landfills and contributes to the formation of leachate as it decomposes, which has the potential to contaminate both surface and groundwater sources. Using scraps of new cotton cloth left over from clothing manufacture waste, this process is called cotton “regeneration” because it creates new yarn from pre-consumed fabric that is otherwise bound for the incinerator.
You are helping diminish the amount of waste going into landfills as well as saving all the water, chemicals, incinerator emissions, electricity, sewage and transportation energy it would take to make the same things from virgin cotton.
On the other hand conventionally manufactured fabrics or synthetic fabrics like spandex, nylon and polyester are completely manmade. They undergo chemical procedures which involve additives—such as detergents, chemical softeners, and bleaches, to prepare the fibers to be spun into yarns for weaving. Finishing involves few chemically intensive steps, especially if the garment is chemically treated to be stain-resistant, wrinkle-resistant, and odor-resistant.
Both the fabrics have their fair amount of advantages and disadvantages. Your personal opinion and usage matters here. Synthetic fibres have increasingly grown in popularity. The demand for polyester fibres have increased by over half since 1980, making polyester the single most used textile—overtaking cotton. Synthetic fibres are known for better durability and cheaper manufacturing. Since they are manmade you can create any texture and any colour. Despite the fact that natural fabrics are expensive as they involve more labor than chemicals and involve natural farming operations and facilities, I intuitively choose natural fabrics when designing my pillows. Fabrics like cotton and linen feel comfortable and have a soft hand. It gives me great pleasure when I play with different raw textures from the nature.