Natural plant-based and animal-based textile fibers.
Since the start of civilization, an important part of herders and farmers around the world have generated and harvested nearly 40 million tons of natural fibers obtained from different species of animals and plants. They have all been described in the previous article on the blog. These natural plant-based or animal-based fibers are used to create yarns, fabrics and cloths to manufacture clothing, accessories and footwear. Naturally, these fibers are also employed for different purposes in other industries such as automotive, naval, furniture, decoration, etc.
Natural vs. Synthetic Fibers.
Nevertheless, in the last few years, the advancement of synthetic fibers —polyester, acrylic, nylon among others—has been constant and with an aim to replace natural fibers. In the previous article on the blog we have analyzed this topic and the future trend.
Their lower cost and their constant development due to innovation have helped synthetic fibers gain ground over natural fibers, and that is the trend. Industrially produced in massive volumes, synthetic fibers have features that are added and improved over time and with increasing investments in innovation and development. Among other characteristics that have been improved, we can list their sensation to the touch, strength, quality and range of colors, as well as their thermal and insulation properties.
From the viewpoint of social responsibility, the competition posed by synthetic fibers has generated a significant negative impact in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who depend socially and economically on the production and processing of natural fibers. To this purpose, it is necessary to create awareness about the importance of natural fibers to farmers, industrial sectors, consumers and the environment.
Reasons to use natural plant-based and animal-based fibers.
Those who support and promote the use of natural fibers argue that they are a natural, healthier and more comfortable option for consumers. For instance, the natural insulation and thermal qualities of these fibers create an unmatched sense of well-being on people wearing clothes made of them. Another example is the use of coconut fibers that have a natural resistance to mites in home textiles. Naturally, due to their physical properties, these fibers are a fantastic option for the fashion industry as high quality of the final product is assured from the very raw materials.
Natural textile fibers are the option for sustainable fashion.
Natural fibers supporters also maintain that these are a more sustainable option than synthetic fibers because they are a renewable resource. The production and harvest of most of these fibers require less energy than industrial manufacturing of synthetic ones. The plants they originate from do not emit carbon dioxide; on the contrary, they absorb it. Waste from the harvest and processing of natural fibers can be used in the creation of other composite materials for different industries such as automotive, naval, construction or even to produce electric energy. Additionally, natural fibers are 100% biodegradable and they close the product life cycle in a sustainable manner.
Natural textile fibers are a synonym to Corporate Social Responsibility.
From the point of view of corporate social responsibility, the current model of production, processing and export of natural fibers is the financial and social support of the members of that supply chain. Therefore, it is highly important for producing countries –generally developing countries—to maintain their production active, to improve their infrastructure with the help of investments and to contribute to the growth of the sector by increasing the sale and export of natural fibers.
There is a clear need for understanding in the relationship between natural textile fibers and sustainable fashion to achieve shared success!