Have you ever bothered to check the care label for your garment and read about what it is made of? If you have read it, do you know what they mean? Here's my finding on a few of the most commonly used and seen materials.
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) program is a standard that looks into sustainability of cotton; involving the economic and social development of the farmers who grow the crop along with training them on best agricultural practices that is kinder to the environment (BetterCotton, n.d.).
Cotton crop that is grown from non-genetically modified seeds, without the use of pesticides that results in less water usage, less harm to the birds and insects, and better working environment for the farmers. (About Organic Cotton, n.d.)
We saw a huge rise in linen blended clothing, napkins and sheets this summer. The stonewashed sheets made a perfect backdrop for flatlays for Instagram, and pure linen sheets cost anywhere above $200. Linen is made from the fibres of the flax plant also known as linseed. The fibers are drawn out of the plants by hand which is a labourious task- one of the contributing factors to it’s high price (Linen, n.d.).
A very common name you’ll see on the garment tag. Polyester is a common plastic (Uren, 2018) that is mixed with cotton, usually in a 65% cotton 35% polyester ratio. This poly-cotton increases the strength and durability of the cotton fibre, hence making clothes last longer and requiring less maintenance (Gerard, 2018). As polyester itself is not biodegradable, many sustainable companies are now using recycled polyester in their clothing (kathmandu).
Viscose is the same thing as what Americans call Rayon. This is an interesting fabric as it starts as a natural fabric being made from wood pulp, but get processed with chemicals along it’s journey to give it the silk like lusture and moisture absorbing properties like cotton (Claire, 2017) (Claire, 2017). 100% Viscose fabric is weak and hence can only be dry-cleaned, so is usually blended into other woven fabrics (The good, the bad and the viscose, 2009).
This is a fabric that every woman is acquainted with- as most stockings will have this term on it’s label. Nylon too is a synthetic plastic that can be cast and moulded to form any object. They can also be turned into fibres and weaved to manufacture fabric (Britannica, 2019). It’s a widely used plastic material; from making brush bristles, utensils, umbrella, parachutes and almost everything you can think of. (Woodford, 2019)
You’ll probably see this on a label for your knitwear. Acrylic fibres look like wool and are usually blended with wool to reduce the cost. They are made like polyester- with fossil fuels and heat to a solution which when passed through spinnerets produces fibres that can be woven into clothing (What is Acrylic Fabric, n.d.)
(n.d.). Retrieved from https://directory.goodonyou.eco/brand/kathmandu
About Organic Cotton. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://aboutorganiccotton.org/
BetterCotton. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://bettercotton.org/about-bci/frequently-asked-questions/
Britannica, T. E. (2019, May). Nylon. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/science/nylon
Claire. (2017, April). Retrieved from https://www.contrado.co.uk/blog/what-is-viscose/
Gerard, L. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.bizvibe.com/blog/5-poly-cotton-advantages-and-disadvantages/
Linen. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linen
The good, the bad and the viscose. (2009, September). Retrieved from https://www.designerscollection.co.nz/news/the-good-the-bad-and-the-viscose
Uren, A. (2018). Retrieved from https://goodonyou.eco/material-guide-polyester-2/
What is Acrylic Fabric. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.naturalclothing.com/what-is-acrylic-fabric/
Woodford, C. (2019, January). Nylon. Retrieved from https://www.explainthatstuff.com/nylon.html