Dressing down dirty fashion
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This article is published in The Beam #5 — Subscribe now for more on the topic
The picture of pollution in our minds tends to be thick smog curling from coal power plants, or rubbish blocking our water systems. Rarely do we think of the shirts on our backs. Yet, textiles is one of the most polluting industries on our planet. From the pollutants used in cotton farming to the toxic dyes used in manufacturing and the amount of sheer waste that clothing creates (think fast fashion), you can just begin to imagine the tremendous carbon footprint of this industry.
Here are some interesting sustainable alternatives.
The leather alternative made from pineapple leaves
Ananas Anam has developed Piñatex, a natural plant-based fabric made of fibres extracted from pineapple leaves, creating an alternative to leather. The inventor of the natural and sustainable non-woven textile, Carmen Hijosa, works with her team from London while on the other side of the globe, Filipino farmers are extracting the fibres from the pineapple leaves. The fibres are then sent to a textile finishing company in Spain where the transformation from a fibre mesh into Piñatex takes place. Providing new additional income for farmers, this is a vibrant new industry for pineapple growing countries. No extra land, water, fertilizers or pesticides are required to produce them, and last but not least, the company assures that “no pineapples are harmed in the making of Piñatex”.
Naturally-dyed chemical-free textiles
What can be more straightforward than extracting colour present in the environment and putting it on cloth? Contrary to the exotic feel of the term “herbal dyeing”, the process is much simpler in its form than its synthetic counterpart. Using organic cloth, Aura Herbal is replacing toxic synthetic dyes with herbal ingredients such as fruit peel and forest waste to dye organically grown fabric. Inspired by common practice in ancient India, the company uses only medicinally rich herbs, plant material, minerals and oils such as turmeric, myrobalan, castor oil and sea salt for dyeing fabric or yarn.