Eco textile… is it another fad that will pass?

Deidaa Organic Calico Bag

What is eco-textile?

How many varieties of eco-textiles do we have? Why do we need to switch to eco-textiles?

Eco-textile is a fabric that helps preserve our natural resources for future generations. Pesticides and chemicals are not used in the cultivation of eco or organic fabrics. These environment-friendly fabrics use minimal water.

Eco textiles not only preserve flora and fauna. They sustain farmers and artisans. Artisans make a living out of spinning, weaving, dyeing and embellishing textiles. Their tools are primitive and resources natural. Handmade artisan crafts minimise the ills of industrialisation and urbanisation.

Are all natural fabrics eco-textiles?

There is a common belief that all natural fabrics are eco-textiles. This is a myth.
Do you know cotton cultivation for a shirt requires 700 gallons of water? Mono-crop cultivation of regular cotton requires excessive irrigation. This depletes natural resources and reduces the fertility of the soil. Organic cotton cultivation uses minimal or natural irrigation and crop rotation techniques. These techniques strengthen the soil. Cotton farming accounts for 25% of the world’s insecticide consumption. Chemical pesticides can be carcinogenic. They can be harmful to farm workers, flora and fauna and communities. Organic cotton does not use chemical pesticides and fungicides.

Jute or the ‘golden fibre’ is another eco-textile. Grown in eastern India and Bangladesh, the jute plant has quick and large yields. It requires little water and little or no fertilisers and pesticides. A jute crop replenishes the fertility of the soil. Jute is compostable and biodegradable. Strong and durable, jute has come a long way from burlap onion bags. Jute is now used for apparel, totes, drawstring bags, planters, and furnishings.

A little known wonder fabric is tussah. This wild silk was named the peace silk or ahimsa silk by Mahatma Gandhi. Unlike commercial silk, no silkworm is killed in the making of peace silk. Tribal communities residing in the forests collect the cocoons. Wild silk, thus sustains the environment and the communities.  Peace silk’s muted lustre and uneven texture add to its beauty and elegance.

How can you embrace eco-textile?

We need to embrace eco-textile to minimise the negative impact of non-eco textiles on the environment.
We can do so by
1. Using certified organic cotton, hemp, jute and tussah.

2. Buying artisan and hand made

3. Looking for SEDEX certification that ensures fair wages and working conditions

4. Following the three Rs – recycle, re-use, repair.

5. Minimising waste

Deidaa Organic Cotton Toy with Plastic Waste Filling

Deidaa’s eco-warrior initiative uses surplus organic cotton fabric to hand make artifacts. These artifacts are stuffed with filling made from recycled plastic waste.

Insider tip: There is no apparent difference between regular and organic cotton. The difference lies in the method of production. Organic cotton used for making t-shirts, calico tote and drawstring bags and baby products must come from facilities with GOTS certification. GOTS or Global Organic Textile Standard International Working Group is an internationally accredited standard for organic textiles.

We have touched upon three eco-textiles in this post. Needless to say, eco-textiles are not confined to these three genres. We will have many discussions on traditional and emerging eco-textiles.

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