Ecological materials: how to create a real eco-friendly bag?
In a society that is increasingly concerned about its impact on the environment, the issue of clothing, and more broadly in the textile industry, occupies a prominent place in the debate. Of most concern, in particular, are the materials that are used to create clothing and accessories.
The use of an ecological material in textile design is a real choice when it comes to the producer. It is not just a matter of choosing a fibre, but of taking a deep reflection on its farming and the different impacts, from the plantation to the final treatment. Actually, a textile material can only be considered as truly ecological if its entire cycle is environmentally friendly.
The different ecological materials
Contrary to popular belief, there are many ways to obtain environmentally friendly materials that meet the needs of preserving the planet. Whether it's 100% naturally made or with some kind of recycling method, there are many ways to obtain eco-friendly materials.
The GOTS and OEKO-TEK cotton
Cotton continues to be the most popular material among designers due to its massive production and very affordable prices. Many labels have appeared in recent years to ease the consumers.
An OEKO-TEK cotton garment, for example, is only certified on some factors of the production chain. It does not take into account certain aspects, such as the use of organic raw materials or restrictions on certain chemicals. The GOTS label, on the other hand, is more comprehensive and focuses on the social impact of production, in addition to certifying a minimum composition of 95% organic fibres.
Linen is a material that has had its place as an organic product for a long time. It is grown mainly in France and is environmentally friendly. Although part of the production is often exported, the traceability of the fabric is ensured to guarantee an ecological material, from the cultivation to the finished product. However, linen remains expensive for some people, and can cause a feeling of discomfort due to its roughness.
As surprising as it may seem, bamboo is one of the most prized materials of the moment for the eco-responsible textile industry. The direct use of bamboo fibres is completely environmentally friendly. On the other hand, we find it as bamboo viscose. Also called "artificial silk", it is soft and does not wrinkle. Nevertheless, to accomplish this, the bamboo pulp will have to undergo a chemical operation to dissolve the cellulose. Processed this way, its ecological advantages and natural properties will have been swept away.
It is the most widely used natural fibre, second only to cotton. While jute fibre is both biodegradable and recyclable, and requires few pesticides, it requires labour-intensive farming. Its advantages are close to those of hemp, only that jute is a very loose and soft material and it is sometimes combined with plastic to ensure a minimum of toughness.
Lyocell (or Tencel), an innovative ecological material
This is an artificial material which, however, meets very strict ecological criteria. Obtained after transformation of the cellulose in the wood of different trees, the textile is flexible and efficient. The chemicals used are themselves almost entirely biodegradable and reusable. Lyocell (also known as Tencel, a registered trademark) is therefore a material to take into account for ecological textiles.
The principle of this textile is slightly different from the previous ones, since it is not a question of producing a material, but of modifying an already existing one. The process requires the use of many chemicals, but the approach is mainly to limit plastic waste by recycling bottles or even synthetic textiles. However, this process always needs a percentage of "new" plastic to be added, as recycling breaks apart the fibres of plastic. This article from Iznowgood will help you to better understand what is at stake.
Also called bioplastics, these materials are the target of many questions. It is actually about creating plastic from vegetable matter rather than petroleum. However, this approach does not always guarantee a biodegradable textile, or even a cultivation recognized as organic. Bio-based plastics, such as naturalprene or Sheico's eicoprene, are mainly used in the design of sportswear.
Hemp backpacks: the best compromise?
This material is one of the most advanced textiles in terms of environmental responsibility. Indeed, hemp is undoubtedly one of the most interesting elements in organic textiles, both for its ecological aspect and for the comfort experienced by consumers.
A natural raw material
First of all, hemp does not require any chemical utilization, either during the process of its cultivation or during the final production of the fibre. The natural fibres are obtained directly from the plant and do not require any industrial modification or petrochemical reinforcement.
An ecological cultivation
Hemp cultivation is done in accordance with tradition, using exclusively ancestral know-how. The use of pesticides, herbicides or nitrogenous amendments is out of the question, nature alone is in charge of guaranteeing a healthy setting, both for the environment as a whole and for the growers.
A plant naturally present in Asia
Hemp grows naturally, and in the wild, in the lands of India and Nepal. It is in this environment, favourable to its development in natural conditions, that the plant manages to flourish without the need for fertilizers or other chemical products.
A water saving process
The reason why its territory of origin is so important in organic hemp production is that it guarantees minimum water use. In fact, the root system of the hemp draws water from deep down. Hemp crops in Nepal do not require any watering, as the annual monsoons provide the plant with everything it needs to grow. On the other hand, the plant tolerates excess water very well.
Fair trade commerce
Using this type of a natural fibre is also a solidarity commitment to local producers. In reality, it is one of the most reliable and sustainable sources of income for farmers. Exporting hemp represents an important part of the economy, as the fibre is not used for clothing by the Nepalese anymore. As the globalization takes place, they prefer to buy cheaper and "trendy" clothes from their Chinese or Indian neighbours.
Antibacterial and antifungal properties
Due to its natural composition, hemp is a very sturdy material. Thus, it is truly durable and prevents possible bacterial or fungal attacks, without the need of chemical treatments. Its use as a textile, as a matter of fact, was with the purpose of avoiding bad smells on clothes.
A plant that can be used at all levels, for zero-waste bags
Finally, hemp is a wholesome plant that reduces organic waste considerably, since all parts of the plant can be exploited: the fibre or yarn for textiles, naturally, but also the fibers (the heart of the stalk, not used for textiles), the seeds (the hemp seed) that are used as food, or the oil that is extracted from them.
What about French hemp bags?
In spite of a very important culture of hemp in France, hemp cannot be used today in textile design. In fact, retting (a process that separates the fibres from the plant), is not interesting enough from an economic point of view for producers, as this producer confirms. At present, French hemp is therefore mainly used for building materials or food.
Hemp as an ecological material
Hemp is undoubtedly one of the most interesting materials for the years to come. Both for ecological and solidarity reasons, its use in textile creation is a priority issue.
This is therefore the choice we have made at Bhangara, by offering natural products from the ethical cultivation of organic hemp. Whether you are looking for an organic computer bag, an ecological shoulder bag or an ecological wallet, you will surely find what you are looking for in our shop. And you will also contribute, with your gesture, to the well-being of the planet as well as the Nepalese producers!