Durable and Versatile Textile Fibre- Jute/ Hessian/ Burlap

Linen is a lightweight natural fibre that is both cool in warm weather and warm in cool weather. It was historically used in Europe for men’s summer suits and in Japan for making exquisite, indigo-dyed kimonos. Its myriad uses are being increasingly explored today in the forms of shirts, bed linen, highly absorbent towels and more. The feel and touch of linen clothing during hot summer days is undoubtedly an absolute joy to wrap yourself in. Benefits Linen has a lovely lightweight texture and acclimatising properties. Flax is also the second most highly productive crop (after hemp) per hectare, which can successfully grow without the use of herbicides and pesticides. It can be grown on land unsuitable for food crop production and may even help to re-cultivate polluted soils. Its production uses little water which makes it the second most water efficient fibre (after hemp). Furthermore it is a very durable fabric that softens beautifully with age. Drawbacks The production of linen commonly uses agricultural chemicals, particularly fertilizers to promote strong growth and herbicides to control weeds despite the fact that it can successfully grow without them. A most common extraction process, known as retting - where the stalks of the plant are left to rot in water ponds or running rivers to separate the fibre from the wooden core - is highly polluting to water (due to natural waste and residual agrochemicals on the crop). Better alternatives to this process include; dew-retting, where plants decompose on the ground in the right conditions; and enzyme retting, where plants are decomposed in tanks, and avoid releasing pollutants into the water. Recommendations Opt for organically grown and treated linen, or otherwise ensure that it is dew-retted or enzyme treated. In general, linen grown in the EU is subject to stricter environmental regulations than say, in China. So it is likely to be of lower-impact and better quality. Checkout Amberoot's current linen range for clothing and for home.

Jute comes from a vegetable, which is derived from the plant family Sparrmanniaceae. Also known as ‘the golden fibre’, owing to its golden, silky luminescence. Contrary to most textile fibres, which consist mainly of cellulose, jute fibres also included lignin. Usually found in wood fibres, lignin brings extra strength and durability, making it ideal for burlap, hessian or gunny cloth fabric. However, the finest fibres can in fact be separated out and used to create imitation silks. It blends very well with other fibres, so can be found in many textiles ranging from curtains and floor coverings to clothes. 95% of the fibre is produced in India and Bangladesh. Jute is strong, durable, affordable, environmentally friendly and versatile.

Benefits

It offers an attractive alternative to toxic plastic bags, as well as being used for strong sacks, carpets, rugs, shoes, apparel and geo-textiles. Cultivating jute reinvigorates and cleanses the air since it absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen much faster than trees. Jute reaches maturity quickly, between 4-6 months, making it an incredibly efficient source of renewable material. It relies on natural rainfall and has little need for fertilizer or pesticides. In fact, Jute enhances the fertility of the soil it grows on for future crops. Jute is a fast-drying and a breathable fibre. The durability and affordability of jute makes it one of the best fibres.

Drawbacks

It can only be grown in tropical humid lowland areas. Jute has little elasticity and in clothing, it does crease easily, which can be rectified by combining it with other materials.

Recommendations

Always hand wash or dry clean jute, and for clothing, consider choosing natural fabric blends. Always opt for jute that has been biologically retted (using water) rather than chemically retted – which is much more cost-efficient anyway.

 

Currently at Amberoot we have one product created using jute – a hand embroidered hessian chevron cushion created by a social enterprise Fine Cell Work, which empowers prisoners.

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