Suddenly, everyone was eager to get on the green train. But with sober thinking, perhaps our best practices are just around the corner: eco-friendly fabrics, local manufacturing, and gentle and natural processing. This article will start from three directions: ecological man-made fibers, yarn built-in component addition technology, and environmental protection post-processing, and take stock of the natural resources that can be used in the textile industry.
Authentic natural materials are the easiest way to care for the environment: most garments made of natural fibers are biodegradable, and sweatshirts made of wool, hemp or Tencel will not release toxic microplastics into the inside. Sea. And natural fibers can also have functional properties, such as good humidity management, temperature regulation, odor control and antibacterial.
In response to the market's new demand for comfort, the fabric factory is developing a variety of natural fibers and environmentally friendly blends, lightweight, comfortable, easy-to-wear and easy-to-wash creative fabrics to make ready-to-wear garments that can seamlessly integrate leisure and work from sports.
In addition, healthy-oriented materials, whether using natural fibers or yarns containing natural ingredients, are becoming more and more important, especially in the sportswear market. Therefore, products with naturally generated functions have become the focus nowadays. These materials provide the basic functions of functional fabrics and accessories, such as temperature regulation, humidity management, water repellency, antibacterial/odor control, UV resistance, enhanced athletic performance, and are also beneficial to human health.
Among them, with regard to animal fibers, in addition to the organic topic, in recent years, more attention has been paid to the controversy of animal humanitarianism, and then the RWS certification standard for responsible wool was born, and the Peace Silk, which uses the cocoons of broken chrysalis to draw silk.
Ecological Man-Made Fibers
Regenerated cellulose fibers based on natural ingredients but technically modified. The main products currently on the market are:
Rayon is a cellulose fiber regenerated from natural sources such as trees and agricultural products, so it is not a chemical synthetic fiber. Rayon is made from refined cellulose, which chemically converts wood pulp into soluble compounds, which are dissolved and extruded into filaments from a spinneret, and then chemically solidified to form nearly pure cellulose fibers. Fibers that belong to this category include: viscose rayon, modal, and lyocell, each process is different, and the characteristics of the finished product are also different.
Note: The manufacturing process is not particularly environmentally friendly due to the indirect dissolution method used in the process.
Lyocell is a type of rayon and is composed of cellulose fibers made from dissolving pulp. Due to the environmentally friendly solvent-based production process, the conifer-based wood pulp and organic amine oxide (NMMO) solvent are mixed and heated to completely dissolve, and no derivatives and chemical reactions are produced during the dissolution process, the whole process is more environmentally friendly and does not pollute the ecology. And usually, 98% of the amine oxide can be recovered, and the process produces very little waste. Soft, breathable, lightweight and comfortable, Lyocell is ideal for sensitive skin, plus Lyocell is highly absorbent and quick-drying, as well as its elasticity and strength, making it an excellent choice for sportswear.
Milk protein fiber is synthetically produced from bovine cheese protein. Milk fibers are 100% natural fibers that are soft and smooth with thermoregulatory properties. Because of its natural antibacterial effect and high hydrophilicity, it is skin-friendly and suitable for those with sensitive skin. Milk fiber was not originally manufactured in an environmentally friendly way. Today's milk fiber QMILK® is obviously more environmentally friendly and sustainable in the process, including the use of non-edible milk (food waste), which is a by-product of milk production, and limited use of chemicals. It takes only 2 liters of water to make 1 kg of QMILK® fiber, plus it is a natural fiber, fully biodegradable, and can be blended with natural or synthetic fibers to make the ideal material.
Soybean fiber cloth is made from soybean husk, which is basically a by-product (waste) of tofu production, and is often referred to as "plant cashmere", or "soybean silk" because of its properties. Soy protein is stretched into long and thin filaments after liquefaction, and then cut and processed. Although chemicals are used in the process, most of them can be recycled. This biodegradable fabric is breathable, silky smooth, and contains moisturizing amino acids that make it skin-friendly.
Artificial Spider Silk
Spider silk has excellent performance and is one of the toughest materials in nature. It is harder than steel and stronger than Kevlar (a material for making bulletproof vests). It can be extended to several times its own length before it breaks. For this reason, replicating spider silk in the lab has been of great interest to materials scientists for decades.
Artificial spider silk is based on artificial spider proteins produced by bacteria and spun into highly functional yarns. Suitable for those with highly sensitive skin, this yarn controls humidity and is 100% biodegradable. The Swedish biotech company Spiber Technologies AB, Germany's AMSilk's Biosteel® fiber, Kraig Biocraft Laboratories and Bolt Threads in the United States, Spiber in Japan...etc. are developing artificial spider silk.
Biomass nylon yarn and nylon film made of castor oil use completely renewable resources, consume less water, and will not reduce the arable land for food. The biomass source for castor oil is castor bean, a non-food crop that does not require much water to grow. Castor oil polymers are blended with nylon in a solvent-free and PFC-free manufacturing process. The Italian company Fulgar has developed EVO®, a bio-nylon derived from castor oil, that is ultra-light, highly stretchable and ensures maximum comfort, while being environmentally conscious. Moreover, by attaching the bio-nylon film to the surface of the nylon cloth, a single-component recyclable two-layer and three-layer nylon cloth can be produced to form a closed-loop cycle.
Nylon films can also be partially made with coffee oil. S.Café® (Xingcai)'s AIRMENTM film replaces 25% of fossil fuels with coffee oil extracted from coffee grounds. Compared to traditional film, coffee film provides twice the odor control effect and is also one of the sustainable alternatives. In 2020, Xingcai will launch an environmentally-friendly upgraded version of AIRMEM™-X, which combines recycled industrial waste with non-grain-derived bio-coffee oil, which can replace 46% of the oil consumption. In addition, the AIRMRM COLORSHELL color film series is matched with solution dyed fabrics, which not only provides A variety of color options, but also save water for dyeing and finishing.
Most natural additives, including plant-based, organic; mineral-based ingredients, can be built into synthetic fibers and natural man-made fibers (such as cellulosic-based mucilage fibers or lyocell) to provide additional health and comfort. Natural ingredients added to the yarn structure in a built-in way for longer-lasting properties than chemical surface coating.
Seaweed is pure and rich in substances such as vitamins, trace elements, amino acids and minerals. The substances contained in seaweed can moisturize the skin, help activate cell regeneration, relieve skin diseases, reduce infection and relieve itching. The high antioxidant power also protects the skin against harmful free radicals that damage skin cells. An example of a built-in seaweed ingredient is SeaCellTM, a healthy fiber made using the lyocell process, using native organic seaweed sourced from Iceland. The seagrass collection is certified sustainable. The skin's natural moisture level promotes an active exchange of beneficial substances between fibers and skin, providing a distinct sense of well-being.
Roasted Coffee Grounds
Coffee beans will expand after roasting, which means that the space inside the beans will expand. After roasting, the pores of coffee grounds absorb odors and reflect UV light. Xingcai's S.Café® fabric technology incorporates coffee grounds (consumed coffee waste) into the surface of the polyester yarn, changing the yarn's properties, allowing it to dry up to 200% faster than cotton yarn.
Caffeine can dehydrate fat cells, giving the appearance of shrinking fat. The antioxidants in caffeine attack and destroy free radicals.
The soothing antibacterial properties of aloe vera help disinfect wounds and are commonly used to treat sunburns. Aloe vera is known for its moisturizing properties, rich in vitamins C and E, and also helps prevent free radical molecules from damaging the body. Aloe vera promotes collagen production, maintains healthy skin, resists aging, and can be used in fabrics to make the material feel silky and soft. For example, functional fabric brand M.I.T.I. spa has created a range of highly elastic fabrics with a compression effect, using NOVAREL Beauty Fiber, which contains natural ingredients such as aloe vera and caffeine, ideal for shapewear.
Derived from the fruit of the Argan tree, Argan Oil contains vitamin E and fatty acids that have numerous skin care benefits, providing comfort and moisturizing to help combat dry skin.
Seawool fabric is made of upcycled oyster shells (food waste material), these oyster shells are recycled from the oyster farm in Taiwan, and processed into oyster powder through high temperature and nanotechnology. In the polyester fiber recycled from the recycling of discarded PET bottles. Seawool naturally prevents odors caused by bacteria in fabrics, keeping fabrics and garments fresh. Seawool is anti-static, soft to the touch and naturally insulated to keep the body warm in cold temperatures.
The marine collagen peptide amino acid is also made from food waste - fish scales, and is made up of supramolecular technology. It has the characteristics of moisturizing, hypoallergenic and natural deodorization.
Jade has very low thermal conductivity, which means that it absorbs heat very slowly, and it takes a long time to warm up even in a very hot environment. Therefore, fabrics featuring jade can keep the human body cool for a relatively long time.
Activated carbon has billions of micropores and a huge inner surface, giving it excellent moisture absorption and odor resistance. Activated carbon can be applied directly to the surface of the fabric, or built into the fibers. Activated carbon can be produced from different raw materials, such as wood, coal, coconut shells, or rice bran. It's a naturally renewable resource mostly derived from food waste and keeps clothes comfortable, fresh and odor-free.
Developed by Sony, Triporous, an innovative environmentally sustainable fiber material made from waste rice husks, is a porous carbon material with a unique microscopic structure. In addition to the micropores (below 2 nm) of general activated carbon, Triporous also has many mesoporous pores (Mesoporous) of 2-50 nm and macropores (Macroporous) of more than 50 nm. The special construction makes it easy for the material to absorb substances with large molecular weights, which have hitherto been difficult for conventional materials to absorb. Combine Triporous powder with rayon to create a fiber with long-lasting odor resistance.
Apply natural ingredients to yarn or fabric in a surface finish. The advantage of surface finishing is that after the finished product is finished, additional functions can be added to the product using simple post-processing, without the use of technologies built into the yarn.
The Swiss company Beyond Surface Technologies AG supplies a moisture-wicking organic additive called miDori® bioWick, which is based on vegetable seed oil (biomass waste component), and is naturally decomposed compared to conventional crude oil-derived agents , reducing carbon footprint.
Silica (the main ingredient in sand) captures and decomposes odors from human bodies, soot, oil fumes, or other odorous environments. For example, the Odor Crunch© technology developed by Polygiene, which does not use biocides (Biocides), but consists of silica and water, removes odors in a two-step process:
- The odor-causing molecules attach to the modified biocides
- Once the odor molecules are adsorbed, they will be catalytically cracked into smaller odorless molecules, which will permanently eliminate the odor.
Organic beeswax is a natural water repellant and does not contain harmful environmental substances. To comply with organic standards, no chemicals are allowed on the land within three miles of the hive, the three miles, the bee's flight radius.
In addition to sustainable product selection and transparent, environmentally friendly processes, many brands today believe it is necessary to reduce the use of chemicals while still achieving the specific function of the garment. In addition to introducing various natural fibers, this article also includes functional plant or animal-derived extracts. Because many plant, mineral and organic extracts contain compounds that have antibacterial activity, thermostatic or moisturizing properties. We also believe that there are still many new natural substances to be discovered and applied to the garment industry in the future. And if these natural ingredients are derived from by-products of the food manufacturing process, they can also help to upgrade food waste into textile ingredients, one step closer to a circular economy.