20 Organic Fibres and Their Benefits

Organic fibre jute


The world is changing every day and so is our nature of buying clothes. We are becoming environment conscious. This is the reason organic fibres are gaining popularity. Many fashion brands are focusing on making sustainable clothes using different types of organic textile fibres.

However, many of us think that all-natural fibres are organic which is absolutely not. Many factors play the role in determining the nature of the fibre. Therefore, this list highlights some top 20 organic fibres which have passed all the tests to be called 100% biodegradable hence eco-friendly.

If you are looking for eco-friendly sustainable organic fibres for your designs, you can consider one of the following fibres and fabrics made of these fibre sources. Adita Banerjee has wrote this post after exploring some sources of these organic and sustainable fibres. She has added interesting facts of each kind of fibres.

1. Hemp fibre

Hemp is a bast fibre and is the most eco-friendly fibre among the rest of its type. It is not only free from the action of herbicides or pesticides but also adds nutritious value to the soil where it grows.

Thus, it adds diversity to crop rotations, improving soil health and resists the action of mildew. Hemp fibres are about 70% cellulose and contain low levels of lignin. It has long fibres as compared to cotton so spinning and processing becomes hassle-free.

Interesting fact: In 1941 Henry Ford built a car with plastic made from hemp and could run on hemp fuel.


Related post: Benefits you will get when you choose hemp fabric.


2. Eco-friendly and Organic cotton

Organic cotton is a plant-based natural fibre. But we should not do the mistake of considering all cotton fibers are organic fibre.

Processing of cotton fibre and organic cotton is entirely different. While cotton manufacturing accounts to be one of the most polluting processes, organic cotton on the other hand is as safe as its name for not using any chemical such as fertilizers or pesticides in its process. Organic cotton has to pass the criteria for organic certification which ensures its ecological benefit.

Interesting fact: Largest producer of organic cotton in India (51%)

3. Bamboo fibre

One of the recent introductions to the diverse list of fabrics is bamboo fabric. It has the property to regenerate so it requires less attention and can grow pretty much anywhere that too faster than any other plant. Interestingly, it is known as natural glass fibre due to the alignment of fibres in the longitudinal directions. It has thicker and stronger fibres which increase its durability as well as it is naturally anti­microbial, hypoallergenic, thermal regulating and a good absorbent. It has the potential to compete with the high variety of cotton. Natural processing of bamboo produces bamboo linen whereas chemical is used to produce conventional rayon from bamboo.

Interesting fact: Bamboo grows extremely fast, up to one foot a day!


Related post: 3 Reasons Why Bamboo Sheets Are Today's Luxury Bedding


4. Bamboo Viscose

The preparation of conventional rayon is carried by bamboo fabric by using cellulose in the viscose process. It is similar to producing viscose rayon. All fabrics manufactured with cellulose, whether bamboo, plants, or trees are rayon. It is also eco-friendly but way lesser than bamboo.

Interesting fact: Many retailers had to pay a hefty amounts for falsely calming viscose rayon fibre as bamboo fibre.

5. Aloe Vera

If you are reading it the first time that we also get fibre from aloe vera plants, do not get surprised. There are many apparel items made of aloe vera fibres. 

Aloe Vera has an antimicrobial property that helps to keep away smell from the inner garments such as socks, the spread of diseases, staining and degradation of textiles and other detrimental effects of bad microbes. The aloe gel can help to combat disease-causing microbes like fungi and bacteria. It is one of the best eco-friendly fibres with minimal use of chemicals for its manufacturing.

Interesting fact: Aloe Vera contains 75 potentially active constituents: vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, lignin, saponins, salicylic acids and amino acids.

6. Banana fibre

Banana fibre, also known as Musa fibre, is one of the strongest natural fibres. Initially, only the fruit was considered useful, however, with time the entire plant was found to be useful. The banana stalk can be made into ropes and the stem is converted into fibre cloth. The walls of the stems are removed to reach the intermediate layers with are best suitable for fibre extraction.

Interesting fact: the bark of the banana plant is durable enough to make currency notes which can last for more than a hundred years.


Read more: Banana Fibre for sustainable fashion and beyond


7. Coir Fibre

Coir is a versatile natural fibre extracted from mesocarp tissue or husk of the coconut fruit which has high lignin and low cellulosic content than fibres such as flax and cotton thus making it stronger but less flexible than cotton and unsuitable for dyeing. Coir forms a protective boundary of the fruit inside and is relatively waterproof. It is used for making ropes and mats basically.

Interesting fact: It can resist fungal action and it is the natural fibre that is resistant to damage by salt water.

8. Corn fibre

Corn fibre is recognized to have the potential for the garment sector by various designers from across the globe. The fabric prepared from corn fibre is soft, stain-resistant, and UV resistant, and cheaper than most fabrics. It is generally used to make sportswear, jackets, diapers, and apparel. The manufacturing of corn fibre requires less fuel and less toxic chemicals so it is environmentally friendly.

Interesting fact: It is less likely to catch fire as corn fibre is flame retardant.

9. Jute fibre

Jute is also known as a bast fibre and Jute is 100% bio-degradable fibre. Thus this fibre is environment-friendly. It is universally known as the golden fibre. After cotton, jute is the second-highest consumable fibre. It is used for making carpets, upholstery furnishings, cordage, hangings, paper etc. When jute fibre is processed in an organic manner it is free of toxic substances.

Interesting fact: The application of jute ranges from Meditech to geotextiles to many more.

10. Ramie fibre

Ramie is a highly sustainable eco-friendly fibre with a silky appearance. It is also made without any toxic chemicals thus making it sustainable. It is 8 times stronger than cotton and even stronger when it absorbs moisture. Its density is similar to as flax but it is on the coarser side. It is a flowering plant therefore it is extracted when it blooms. Ramie is naturally resistant to bacteria, mold, and mildew as well as light damage, rot, or insect attack. Moreover, it requires less water and takes less time to degrade than usual cotton.

Interesting fact: It can be harvested about 6 times a year!

11. Pineapple fibre

It is one of the easily cultivable plants which grows over almost every soil. Pineapple grows in warm and humid climates. Pineapple leaves are multicellular and lingo-cellulosic and show good mechanical properties. It can easily be blended with other fibres. Heirloom textiles have used pineapple fabric for home tech, auto mobitech, and geotech. The treated and surface-modified fibres are used for making conveyor belt cords, air-bag, advanced composites, etc.

Interesting fact: This is a cradle-to-cradle material so the process involved is cyclic hence there is no wastage of material.

12. Seacell Fabric

Seacell is an eco-friendly fabric made from seaweed (algae). It naturally contains ayurvedic properties which are good for skin and its anti-inflammatory property helps protects skin from the exterior. These characteristics make it suitable for children’s clothing and activewear. It is an amalgamation of both marine substances and fibrous properties to make environment-friendly fabric.

The antioxidant property of seacell helps to protect the skin against harmful free radicals, which otherwise damage the skin cells. Seacell is basically a luxurious silky fibre made from Seaweed and Eucalyptus fibre.

Interesting fact: It can relieve skin diseases due to its cell regeneration characteristic.

13. Lenpur fibre

Wood has always been the source of many natural fibres. Just like cotton, lenpur is also a cellulosic fibre that is obtained from branches of special trees. Harvesting is only carried for certain parts of the plant (especially, bark and the branches) whereas the rest is pruned. This makes it more valuable. The fibre is derived from the bark and branches of White Pine Trees. The notable thing about this fibre is that the harvesting and processing of lenpur do not harm the forests. Lenpur is used in clothing, underwear, socks, and home accessories, and is said to have thermo-regulatory, odour-eliminating, and absorbent properties.

Interesting fact: A fabric that feels like cotton along with a shiny appearance is nothing but lenpur!

14. Tencel fibre

Tencel is a fibre that has gained a considerable reputation for its biodegradable nature is often used as a synonym to Lyocell. Tencel is actually a type of Lyocell that was first made up by Austrian licensee Lenzing AG. This process of tencel manufacturing transforms wood pulp into cellulosic fibres with high resource efficiency and low environmental impact. The water and solvent used in the process are recycled thus making it sustainable. These fibres are compostable and hypoallergenic in nature.

Interesting fact: Tencel is actually made from tofu-manufacturing waste.


Read more: Tencel - A Step Towards Sustainability


15. Soy Silk

This fibre is not very common, but it claims to be 100% biodegradable. If one is completely vegan then soy silk is best for them. It is made up of vegetable cashmere, vegan cashmere, soy silk, and soy protein fibre etc. It is used to make upholstery, dresses, tank tops, skirts, etc. The great Henry Ford of Ford Motors fame is credited with inventing soy fabric.

Interesting fact: Soya bean car was a unique concept.

16. Organic Linen

Flax fibre grown in the most organic way is called organic linen. It is proved to be a biodegradable process with minimal damage done to nature and its habitat. Although many other fabrics are produced in the same way yet linen is mostly preferred. GOTS certification determines the 100% organic nature of fabrics. It produces various items such as clothes, underwear, curtains, tablecloths, window treatments, bed sheets, towels, and upholstery.

Interesting fact: Linen is one of the oldest fabrics in the world.


Also read: Is viscose a sustainable fibre?


17. Organic silk

The silk fibre is one of the most demanding fibre around the world that requires toxic chemicals in its production. However, organic silk is the key solution that provides good quality fabric without the use of any pesticides, insecticides, or harsh chemicals. It results in soft, shiny, and beautiful fabric. Mud silk similar to organic silk is also an eco-friendly fibre.

Interesting fact: Organic silk is known as a luxurious fabric and is quite expensive.

18. Recyclable PET fabric

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fabric is a unique way of producing eco-friendly fibre as well as controlling the polluting agents. It is a smart way of converting non-biodegradable plastic bottles into yarn of different colors. Other names for this fabric are Recycled polyester Fabric & PET Spun Fabric. So, recyclable polyester can be recovered and recycled to create new raw materials for future products.

Interesting fact: Both Air Pollution and Water Pollution are controlled.

19. Polylactic Acid Fabric (PLA fabric)

PLA is a stretch fibre, made from the polylactic acid extracted from genetically altered corn. It shows mechanical properties closer to polyethylene and polystyrene. It is a special type of aliphatic polyester which is biodegradable in nature. It is derived from corn starch, cassava roots, chips or starch or sugarcane.

Interesting fact: Manufacturing PLA is a step forward for synthetic fibre to be eco-friendly in nature.

20. Modal fibre

It is also a cellulosic fibre derived from wood pulp, made out of pure wooden chips from the beech tree. It uses only beech wood which has high tenacity and high wet modulus. Modal was first developed by Austria-based Lenzing AG Company.

Interesting fact: It could replace the excessive use of cotton in the future.


References:

  • https://www.textileschool.com/154/eco-friendly-fibers/
  • https://sewguide.com/best-eco-friendly-clothing-fabrics/
  • https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmats.2019.00226/full
  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S223878542100569X
  • https://www.fao.org/natural-fibres-2009/about/15-natural-fibres/en/
  • https://cfda.com/resources/materials/detail/hemp (hemp facts)
  • https://keepingourplanetalive.ca/blogs/blog/bamboo-vs-cotton-an-environmental-comparison (bamboo facts)
  • https://bthechange.com/how-viscose-rayon-fabric-masquerades-as-bamboo-clothing-b-the-change-media-89f0e3038179 (bamboo viscose)
  • http://coirboard.gov.in/?page_id=60 (coir facts)
  • https://healabel.com/r-fabrics-materials-textiles/ramie (ramie facts)
  • https://textilevaluechain.in/news-insights/clothing-from-seacell-fibres/ (seacell fact)
  • https://textilevaluechain.in/news-insights/clothing-from-lenpur-fibres/ (lenpur)
  • https://www.tencel.com/sustainability (tencel)
  • https://sewport.com/fabrics-directory/soy-fabric (soya silk)
  • https://www.fibre2fashion.com/


About the author:
Adita Banerjee is pursuing her graduate degree in Textile Technology from the Government College of Engineering and Textile Technology, Serampore. She loves writing content and reading books.