Are those old bed sheets getting worn? Do you need new curtains for the kitchen? Fabric can be found all over the home, but have you ever thought of where the threads are coming from? Many common fabrics contain harmful chemicals and dyes that may offgas VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and can damage your body. We come in contact with fabrics all day and the more chemicals we expose ourselves to, the higher the chance we can be harmed. Next time you are interested in buying fabric for your home, you might want to consider a material that supports a limited impact on the environment. Even better, these eco-friendly textiles can be suitable for home decoration.
While we are all familiar with conventional cotton, organic cotton is grown in a completely different way. Organic cotton farmers refrain from using pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, chemical fertilizers or other chemicals in the farming process. Instead, these toxic chemicals are replaced with more eco-friendly methods. Just one pound of cotton fiber used to make a T-shirt contributes to air, water and soil pollution and affects the health of people who live in cotton farming areas.1 While the farming methods are different, organic cotton can take the place of conventional cotton virtually everywhere.
Fabric weaved from hemp fiber has become increasingly popular as a result of the green movement. Harvested from stalks of the cannabis plant, this strong fiber is regaining popularity since it can produce up to 250% more fiber than cotton and 600% more fiber than flax in the same amount of land. The cannabis plant also keeps the soil rich so hemp can be re-grown year after year. Hemp has amazing qualities as a fabric. Not only is it strong, hemp holds its shape and gets softer with each use. Since the fibers are porous, hemp fabrics breathe nicely which keeps the body cool in warm weather and warm in cool weather.2
One of the newest eco-friendly fabrics is made from bamboo. Bamboo is not a tree, but a grass that requires no pesticides or herbicides. The plant is fast growing, reaching 75 feet in 45-60 days. The bamboo fibers are spun into fabric that has excellent qualities. Bamboo has great wicking qualities (what are wicking qualities?), so it keeps moisture away from the skin. The fabric can also kill odor-causing bacteria and has insulative qualities to keep you feeling comfortable in warm or cold weather. Finally, bamboo is known for its soft, smooth feel and is a great fabric for your bed.3
While these three sources of fabric are great decisions for anyone seeking eco-friendly material, there are plenty of alternatives available as well. Other fabrics that can be environmentally friendly include wool, silk, jute, recycled polyester, soy and various natural blends. If you are not sure if a particular fabric is eco-friendly, just ask a salesperson. But if you want to be certain, there are many fantastic choices for you to choose from in our database!
1 "Cleaner Cotton Campaign." Sustainable Cotton Project. 2006.
2 "Properties of Hemp." Hemp Traders.
3 Hinders, Dana. "Organic Bamboo Fabric." Lovetoknow.com.