ECO GUIDE TO UNUSUAL MATERIALS
Fabrics such as cotton come at a dear cost to the environment. Look for progressive alternatives made from pineapples, eucalyptus, even mushrooms.
Future generations will shake their heads at our loyalty to a handful of fibres with terrible environmental profiles, such as cotton (thirsty for pesticides and water) and plastic (oil based). They’ll want to know why we didn’t display more imagination.
A few will escape their censure: winners of the Plug and Play – Fashion for Goodventure, recently held in Amsterdam to support low-impact innovations for the fashion industry, had a distinctly mushroomy flavour. These include MycoTex, a mushroom textile and Amadou, a “leather” made from the skin of amadou mushrooms.
Meanwhile Pinatex (using the waste fibre from pineapple production) has made big inroads in the fashion industry over the last couple of months. Bourgeois Boheme stocks pineapple shoes as leather alternatives and sustainable style campaigner Livia Firth recently stepped out at the Met Ball in a silver dressessentially made from pineapple leaves.
But agro-waste doesn’t always look this glamorous. Often it is used in more practical ways – like the trays that transport eggs and fruits which are made from novel fibres, including sugarcane. All over the world, agro-waste such as sugarcane bagasse and rice husk is burned as fuel which adds to air pollution. We’d be better off using it as a fibre.
If you don’t want to wait for innovative textiles to prove themselves, get hold of a eucalyptus yarn kit from woolandthegang.com. Tina Tape Yarn is made from sustainably sourced eucalyptus tree fibres (the yarn takes 80% less water to produce than cotton).
The secret remains in keeping a healthy, balanced mix of materials. We do not want all of our eggs in one basket – or in a single type of tray.
Keep reading: The Guardian.