Natural fibers are good for you and good for the environment.They are a sustainable resource, as they are renewable, biodegradable and carbon neutral and they can be used without depleting or damaging the environment.Natural fibers include:
Linen (made from flax)
Jute (a very coarse fiber used for things like carpets, not clothing)
The choice to purchase natural fiber clothing reduces your toxic burden and the toxic burden on the environment.
1) Natural fibers are comfortable to wear
Natural fibers ‘breathe’, keeping you comfortable in hot weather by absorbing perspiration and releasing it into the air. Synthetic fibers cannot ‘breathe’ in the same way because they are more compact. Polyester clothing, for example, can make you feel clammy and sweaty in warm weather.
This ability to wick perspiration also makes furniture and mattresses filled with natural fiber more comfortable to use then those filled with plastic foam.
2) Natural fibers are often great insulators
Wool is an excellent insulator against both heat and cold. Wool fiber has a natural crimp, which is the technical name for the tiny little waves along the length of the fiber; the spaces created by the waves trap pockets of air. A woolen jumper or blanket therefore, will do a much better job of keeping you warm in the winter than an acrylic one.
3) Natural fibers can be good for sensitive skins
People with sensitive skin are less likely to get allergies or rashes if they wear clothes made with natural fibers. Organic natural fibers are even better as they are not treated with chemicals that cause allergic reactions. Research has also found that linen sheets can help prevent painful bed sores in bed ridden patients.
4) Natural fibers are a renewable resource
The source of natural fibers can be replenished with the passage of time, unlike synthetic fibers. Plants that produce fibers can be grown and harvested again and again. Flax and jute are grown as annuals, while sisal plants are harvested for about 10 years, and kapok trees can produce fiber for 60 years or more.
Most fiber animals produce a new coat of fiber every year. Camels shed their hair naturally each year and angora rabbit fur grows so fast that it can be harvested four times a year.
5) Natural fibers are biodegradable
Natural fibers decompose naturally through the action of fungi and bacteria, not adding to waste mountains. Most synthetic fibers, on the other hand, are difficult to dispose of. Recycling them requires sorting and when they are incinerated they produce pollutants. Even plastic bags that claim to be biodegradable just break down into smaller bits of plastic that can get into the food chain.
6) Natural fibers can be carbon neutral
Plant fibers do not contribute towards global warming as their production cycle is usually carbon neutral, i.e., they absorb at least the same amount of CO2 as they emit. In addition, organic wastes produced during processing can be used as fuel and generate electricity, stock feed and housing materials.
Processing synthetic fibers, on the other hand, uses a great deal of energy, generating pollutants in the form of heavy metals that stay in the environment for a long time. Their processing generates tonnes of CO2, the greenhouse gas responsible for global warming.
7) Natural fibers fit in with the organic movement
Organic clothing and household textiles are a natural extension to eating organic food. Organic cotton for example, does not have the environmental concerns over heavy use of pesticides and water consumption that non-organic cotton does. Some people who think they are allergic to wool often find that they are actually allergic to the chemicals used to treat wool and can wear organic wool.
Natural fibers come in a range of natural colors creating less need for polluting chemical dyes.