A lifestyle choice does matter. Let’s begin clearly with the main point I believe in: you decide what feels like the best choice for you in your life. If everybody tries to do their best, whilst some will say it isn’t good enough, I say it is definitely better than doing nothing. So my question today: did you ever think about bananas or coconut as basic clothing material? Style up your game: manmade fabrics are greening up!
This blog post will not be about food choices, but about going for a compassionate closet (ethics and fashion) avoiding sweatshop labor, fibers that contribute to environmental harm, even dye from animal bones/skin/body… Just alone the idea of chemicals in your clothing touching and impregnating our skin doesn’t appeal to any one I believe, you don’t have to be veggie or vegan for that…
It didn’t take much thinking to decide to stop buying new animal based products, although I refuse to throw away wearable clothing or accessories that don’t fit into my personal ethics, it would feel wasteful to me. But what are the available alternatives then? The results of my search astonished me, tons of options for greening up my closet are easily to be found and out there, instead of sustaining the inherently cruel practice of factory-farming. Let’s start with bananas, coconut and pineapple leaves as the future fabric ingredient.
Banana plant stems are wasted each year, billion tons of them, although you only need 37kg of stems to produce a kilogram of fiber to create a nearly carbon neutral, soft textured fabric, perfect for jackets, skirts and trousers. The odourless fibers can be dyed, don’t shrink and their colours don’t fade. More important it protects from atomic radiation, the sun’s UV-radiations, the heat when working in front of computers and radiations emitted by cell phones. It is the raw material for good quality silk grade fiber yarn. It is also used for making tea bags, sanitary napkins, Japanese yen notes and even car tyres.
Pineapple leather is made of the leaves, a byproduct of the pineapple harvest, it does not need any additional land, water or fertilisers to grow. This biodegradable material, which has similar appearance to canvas, is not to be found in the shops yet, but is researched to be used to manufacture shoes, handbags for a price roughly 40% cheaper than good quality leather.
Even Kombucha leather and cork leather (made from cork bark) are used to make footwear and handbags.
Cork is a vegan and quality eco-friendly fabric, a perfect alternative for animal leather. It won’t crack or crumble and is extremely light, water resistant, stain resistant and scratch proof, wear and tear resistant and very soft.
Recycled coconut husks are already used by outdoor clothing companies (often combined with volcanic materials) as it is a particularly good choice for sportswear being highly durable (lasting longer than bamboo and cotton), fast drying (92% faster than cotton), sweat absorbing, providing sun protection and wrinkle-resistant. The activated carbon is taken from them and incorporated into yarns and fibers. A thousand of coconuts can produce 10kg of fiber with a harvest every thirty to forty-five days.
Hemp, one of the most versatile fibers and the most environmentally positive crop (improving soil quality), growing quicker than bamboo, eight times more durable than cotton, is another option. Grown without herbicides, naturally resistant to insects, fungus and other pests. Do know it wrinkles easily but then again it possesses anti-microbial properties. Ideal for shoes! It was historically used for ships’ sails and ropes in British and American Navies, being eight times more durable than cotton.
Another strong, fast-growing plant, 100% biodegradable and environmentally friendly (against deforestation), a great natural material is jute. Ideal for shoes as it is breathable and natural with its comfortable and durable texture.
Or would you rather go for shoes made of bamboo, another beneficial crop for the environment, also renowned for its antibacterial properties and soft fabric? Or for biodegradable soy beans, the vegetable alternative to cashmere, due to its feel and softness? Forget about conventional cotton go for organic cotton (seeds aren’t genetically modified and the used fertilisers do not contain chemicals), or linen, made from the reed of the flax plant, for your sustainable wardrobe.
For those of you who adore soft, fluffy, lightweight material, providing excellent warmth and even good for therapeutic use, go for Peace silk. Where traditional silk is made of the boiled silkworm cocoons (worm still in the cocoon!), Peace silk lets the silkworm live out its full cycle and emerge. Easy to find as fabric and yarn for making your own clothing, less accessible in finished products though! Don’t forget to watch out whether it’s naturally dyed!
My husband said “and what about wool”, you don’t kill a sheep taking its wool… shearing is just giving it a haircut no? OMG, what I found about this subject literally comes down to routine mutilation without anaesthesia… Wild sheep do not need to be shorn as they do not have the wool that domestic sheep have and their wool naturally falls out/thins out. But over time sheep have been bred to grow more skin folds, in order to be able to shear more wool from each single sheep. Due to this, excess skin needs to be carved off around a sheep’s backside (feces can build up attracting maggots), a process called mulesing, done without painkillers and exposing raw tissues, causing injuries. Lambs born for wool production are castrated, their ears are punched through and their tails cut off, all without anaesthesia. So no thanks, no wool for me.
Trying to eliminate my personal contribution to cruel practices, not willing to provide extra income for slaughterhouses and believing that what we put in our closets has as much power to change that as what’s on our plates.
Becoming an eco-conscious shopper, checking clothes labels