Label Savvy

Eco-Friendly Fabrics Made from Seaweed, Bottles and More

The invention of synthetic fibers like rayon and polyester revolutionized the textile and clothing industries. But the manufacturing process left a lot to be desired. Polyester, for example, is made from petroleum. Producing it and other synthetic fabrics leaves behind a legacy of emissions, volatile organic compounds and dangerous gases like hydrogen chloride. Toxic solvents used to treat and dye these fabrics pollute the air and waterways. Even the much-beloved cotton fiber has been criticized because of the substantial water and pesticides used to grow it. An eco-friendly fiber is one that is sustainable, locally sourced (when possible) and most importantly, free from harmful chemicals.

Next time you’re shopping, look for these eco-friendly fabrics on the label.

Chico's


Tencel is the trademarked brand of lycocell, a biodegradable cellulosic fiber made from wood pulp that is dyeable, wrinkle-resistant and can be blended with other fibers such as cotton, silk, linen and rayon. Tencel has become very popular among designers as a silkier alternative to polyester and cotton. It’s fabricated using a closed-loop process that doesn’t require bleach or other harmful chemicals, and the final product is 100% recyclable and compostable. The clothes have become affordable and are sold in a wide variety of stores including Talbots, Chico"s, Orvis, Sears and Target. www.chicos.com

Tinc


SeaCell combines lycocell with a small percentage of seaweed. The added seaweed contains calcium, magnesium and vitamins A and E that are activated by the skin’s heat and moisture. The fabric is porous and because it "breathes" well it is currently being used mostly in undergarments and athletic wear. Elle Macpherson designed an undergarment line called "Proces-sion" that uses SeaCell fabric and is available at Bloomingdale’s and online. Products are also available at online retailers like Open Air Sports and Zappos. Lululemon Athletica, an athletic and yoga apparel store, carries a line of clothing made from Vitasea, which they claim is derived from SeaCell. (There remains some controversy over whether Lululemon’s garments actually contain seaweed fibers.) www.tincwear.com

g=9.8


Lenpur is a fiber made from the pulp of sustainably cultivated white fir trees. It feels similar to cashmere and is touted as having thermoregulatory, odor-eliminating and absorbent properties. Lenpur is mainly available as spools of yarn in a variety of colors and pattern books specifically tailored to knitting with the yarn. Designer Sophie Young has also created a lingerie and loungewear line using Lenpur, which she labels as "pine fiber" on the garments. Her line, g=9.8, can be found on various websites including Noblivity and BuyGreen. www.organiclingerie.fr

NatureVsFuture


Ingeo fiber, created by NatureWorks LLC, is made from the fermentation of plant sugars in corn. The process begins with maize, and the natural fermentation process eliminates the need for petroleum, which is required in the production of nylon and polyester. Ingeo fabric is resilient, wrinkle-resistant, has better UV resistance than polyester and is hypoallergenic. The fabric does not retain moisture and has excellent stain and odor resistance. Ingeo is gaining in popularity, but is mostly used in bedding and can be found at stores such as Walmart and Target. www.naturevsfuture.com


Eco-fi, also called Ecospun, is a polyester fiber made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, and manufactured by Wellman Inc. The fibers can be used to create a variety of fabrics, such as felt and fleece, or blended with other fibers such as wool, cotton or Tencel. Its versatility allows it to be used in products ranging from blankets, carpets, clothing and car interiors. The manufacturing of Eco-spun prevents some of the 51 billion bottles a year from ending up in landfills and the fabric is colorfast, shrink resistant and strong. The fabric is being used mostly for fleece blankets, tote bags and felt appliqués. Items can be found online at sites such as Blue Lotus (outdoor fleece blankets) and Patagonia (fleece jackets). www.bluelotusgoods.com

JENNIFER SANTISI is a writer and editor with the National Science Foundation.

Animal Rights National Conference 2018