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FAB Fabrics - A Look at Eco-Friendly Fabrics and Their Properties

There are so many fabrics out there that the fashion world has started to recognise as being both great to design with and good for the planet. Looking at Eco-fabrics is not as simple as man-made or natural, organic or not. It is about everything from how they are grown, where, how, by whom, what methods are used, how much is paid and how does this affect the planet?

It is also important to see using eco-fibers as something that will ensure the long term health of our planet and not just people jumping on the trendy green band wagon. There are many misconceptions about natural fabric production and many facts that are not known.

An eco-fabric will be something that it is good to grow that fits in with the local wildlife and plantation and will not harm the land or the workers involved when it is harvested. The dyes used, have to be chemical free and natural and would be produced locally to where it is grown rather than flown miles away. An eco-fabric is durable and requires only low temperatures to wash and air dries quickly, and will decompose naturally when disposed of.

There are many types of eco fabrics available including wool from different animals and fabrics produced from various plants, and even some materials made from recycled plastics.

From Animals: Alpaca's have thick coats and make incredibly warm clothing, the fiber is stronger, lighter and more resilient than tradition sheep wool, it is finer than cashmere and equally as warm as Gortex. Sheep's Wool is also taken ethically without using a technique called "mule sing" which takes a layer of skin off their backsides to stop flies. Wool from all animals traditionally used (sheep, llama, goats and camels) has antibacterial properties and built in U.V. ray protection. It's soft but strong, lasts well, and is wrinkle dirt and fire resistant.

From Plants: Bamboo grows at an amazing rate and is one of the planets most sustainable resources and it's 100% biodegradable. As a fabric it is super soft, stretchy, breathable, absorbent, hypoallergenic and anti bacterial and can be burnt and made into a fabric for extra deodorizing properties, ideal for socks.

Hemp is also a great fabric to make clothing from, although it is not soft to touch, it is very durable, water resistant and washes easily, which makes it ideal for outdoor wear. Ingeo is made from corn and is like a natural but man-made version of polyester which is a synthetic. It is great, used in pillows, duvets, clothing and even carpeting. It is the first commercially viable natural but man-made fabric.

Organic Cotton is organic in the methods it is grown in and harvested and doesn't harm the environment by using nasty chemicals and pesticides, which inevitably effect our water supply.

Organic Silk is also available without the cost to the environment; the properties of silk are well known.

From Other Sources: Tencel is a natural man-made fiber developed from the pulp of trees grown on land unsuitable for crops or grazing. Soya is made from a tofu manufacturing waste product where the soy protein is liquefied and makes a soft material. Somalor is also extracted from corn but can be dyed to make really vibrant, exciting colors. Sashwashi is made from Japanese paper and the kumazasa herb and is similar to linen.

There are many eco friendly fabrics available to make any designers fashions fashionable with the green crowd too. Saving the planet is just a little bit trendy at the moment but hopefully these eco-friendly fabrics will become more of a main stream manufacturing habit the whole world can wear!

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