Eco-friendly textiles are those that do not significantly impact the environment through pesticide use or chemicals used during manufacturing. Bamboo and hemp are examples of plants that can be made into textiles with a lower environmental impact than petroleum-based fabrics. But, several new textile manufacturing technologies have added powerful options for lowering carbon footprints. Companies are beginning with a transparent supply chain, environmental stewardship, and cradle to cradle technologies. These textiles are designed to be recycled or use recycled materials from the beginning to the end of the life of the product. They also provide social good through job development or waste cleanup.
Thread International is a textile manufacturing company that collects plastic waste, transforms it into thread, and then uses that thread to manufacture textiles that are sturdy, beautiful, and Ground to Good. The Ground to Good designation reflects their stewardship throughout the lifecycle of the supply chain. The thread and textiles are woven in North Carolina, in the heart of America’s remaining textile mill industry, and overseas. The plastic bottles are collected from those in developing economies, such as Haiti and Honduras, providing opportunities for both jobs and plastic waste cleanup.
Innovation in Vegan Leather
Vegan leather is another textile product that is seeing new developments through manufacturing processes that monitor carbon footprint and environmental costs throughout the lifecycle of the textile. While traditional vinyls are made from layers of polyurethane over a base of fiber plastic, some new vegan leathers are being developed from renewable resources, such as pineapple or cork. Pinatex is a vegan leather made from the fibrous pineapple leaves. It is completely cradle to cradle, provides another income stream for subsistence farmers, and replaces leather in custom furniture manufacturing. Leather tanning has a significant environmental impact.
Reducing Leather Waste
Eco-leather is another name for bonded leather, a product that takes leather scraps, cuts them up into very small particles, and spray-glues them onto a breathable backing. The breath-ability of leather is one of its benefits over polyurethane-based vinyl, and this product also reduces leather waste.
Cork is another renewable resource that has been used for many years as a textile alternative. This is a great option because it has pleasing colors and textures, is breathable, and fully recyclable.
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