Coir is one of the thickest and most resistant natural fibres available. Cleverly extracted from the outer shell of a coconut, it comes in two forms; brown coir, which comes from mature coconuts; and white coir, which is made by soaking early stage coconuts for up to 10 months. Brown coir is stronger and used for brushes, mattresses, rugs and rope. The yarn’s resistance to salt water makes it ideal for fishing nets. 1000 coconuts provide a yield of 10kg of coir. Globally around 650,000 tons are produced annually in 93 countries, with considerable motivation to expand production to further countries.
Among vegetable fibres, coir has one of the highest concentrations of lignin, which makes it significantly stronger than cotton. Coir is highly resistant to microbial action, which renders chemical treatment, including herbicides, unnecessary. It also boasts high wettability, is very absorbent, and yet doesn’t require lots of water – just little and often. Coir’s impressive durability and absorbency makes it ideal for geo-textiles, used to prevent soil erosion. Its sun-resistant capacity makes coir even more suited to the task, mimicking soil itself, it is naturally biodegradable and, unlike synthetic alternatives, doesn’t require removal after. Coconuts are celebrated for their abundance of benefits; coir comes with an earth-loving byproduct too: peat, which is a high quality mulch and brilliant organic manure.
Though coir is strong, this can also mean that it isn’t very flexible or soft. It is great for household items but perhaps not so well suited to apparel. Traditionally, coir cultivation has been time-consuming – owing to the lengthy soaking and extraction process – however technology has improved and de-husking machines are available.
Source coir that has been properly leached to ensure the fibre is of the highest quality.