Jane Bowler avant-garde plastic design raincoats 1

What is the next big thing is sustainable fashion? Ecouterre asked 28 eco-fashion oracles what year 2011 would have in store for us. But I think I´ve found something much better, PLA fiber. Or so I thought..

PLA is advertised as..
  • Similar to Cotton in appearance.
  • Natural fiber hand.
  • Wickability/breathability of natural fibers.
  • Good performance qualities.
  • Made from a renewable resource, which is biodegradable***.
  • Good flammability resistance.
  • High UV resistance.
  • Excellent drapeability.
  • Can be used in blends with cotton and polyester, or alone.

DyeCat PLA fibre sustainable polyester textile diagram

Sounds like a perfect man-made fibre for the fashion industry.. DyeCat is one of the companies researching and delevoping this material."One of these sustainable technologies is an alternative to the oil-dependent polyesters, PLA (poly lactic acid). PLA is a polyester derived fiber from 100% renewable sources. The production of PLA uses 20-50% less fossil fuel resources than comparable petroleum-based fibres and it is a particularly ‘green’ polymer in terms of sustainability and degradation. Plants process CO2 from the atmosphere and water through photosynthesis to make the raw materials from which the building blocks of PLA can be obtained. When PLA has reached the end of its useful life, it can composted, which converts the PLA back into CO2, water, and biomass with minimal environmental impact. The usual process for dyeing materials is to submit them to high-temperature, aqueous dyeing processes containing many different chemicals. This is very energy intensive, inefficient and uses a lot of water and produces a lot of coloured effluent. Not only is PLA fibre renewable and recyclable, it has the ability to perform better and saves chemicals and energy compared to conventional manmade materials." PLA plastic, also know as "corn plastic" can also be used for a variety of other stuff like household plastics and food packaging. It still has it´s recycling problems used in fast consumed food packages, but doesn't everything in the beginning..? Besides, to have any recycling done right people must be informed and taught about how to do it right.

If this PLA fiber textile technology makes it to the mass fashion markets, it is going to be huge compared to conventional polyester manufacturing. So fine, if natural fibres are not an alternative, PLA is better than PE, but it is still plastic.. Industrial hemp and stinging nettle plant (Finnish. nokkonen) are still the best and most sustainable eco materials I know, as far as my research goes. I you are studying fashion or just want to know more about ecological fashion consumption, find books about eco fibres as knowing your materials is one of the most important things!! Eco Textiles blog is a good place to start. There is loads to read, all the way to Setember 2007.

***) There is no legal definition of “biodegradable,” so the term has been used loosely by some manufacturers. The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) cites a 2006 American Chemistry Council study showing that most consumers believe a product labeled “biodegradable” will go away completely and on its own in a year or less. The BPI says many consumers also believe that these products will “biodegrade” in landfills. Because it seems a desirable product attribute, the term “biodegradable” has been applied to a wide range of products—even those that might take centuries to decompose, or those that break down into harmful environmental toxins. Biodegradability is definitely perceived as a positive trait, yet it could be applied to virtually anything because anything is biodegradable, given enough time. Read more about this at Eco Textiles.

Via DyeCat and Eco Textiles.

eco fibre stinging nettle plant nokkonen

Outi Les Pyy

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