3 New Fabrics of the Future

Back in March we released an article that outlined some new types of textiles for sustainable fashion that got us very excited about the future of slow and eco conscious fashion. It seems that we’re not the only one who got excited though, as that article quickly became one of our most read journal entries by far. So we’re back at it with another look at sustainable fabric technology. This time we’ll be talking about three fabrics that have already started to appear on the market, so be on a lookout for this tech next time you’re shopping for something sustainable.

Lyocell (Tencel)

First up is a material called Lyocell, often known by the brand name Tencel, which is something we’ve briefly talked about before but is very worth highlighting. Lyocell is a hybrid version of rayon that mixes highly renewable resources with human ingenuity. Rayon is made from dissolving plant matter with a special solvent and spinning the cellulose into a weavable fiber, and lyocell can be spun from fast growing trees or bamboo. Rayon usually gets a bad reputation from environmentalist groups because the chemicals needed dissolve the plant matter are often dangerous waste products. While it’s true that the chemicals used to dissolve lyocell are dangerous, the ingenious part about lyocell is that the after each time the solvent is used in a batch, it can be recovered at a rate above 99%. So once you make one batch of the solvent it can be used near indefinitely, making lyocell a highly efficient closed-loop manufacturing system. And, so long as the fabric is dyed safely, it is perfectly biodegradable as well.

Soy Cashmere

Next up is soy cashmere. Soy is a bit of a debate in the natural living world. On the one hand, soy is needed by most vegetarians and vegans as a cheap and versatile meat-alternative. On the other hand, soy monocrops are known for pesticide runoff and deforestation, as most versions of factory farming does. So what do we do about it? Paradoxically, the first thing you can do is eat more of those soy meat-replacements, as 90% of soy production goes towards animal feed, so reducing the culture of meat products means reducing the overall demand for soy as well as use the soy more efficiently. Second of course is to source soy from organic farms. Finally, we need to use soy more effectively, and that’s where soy cashmere comes in. Very similar to the orange peel silk we mentioned last article, soy cashmere is woven from the leftovers of soy production, making it a version of Upcycling. And as you know, we can’t get enough of Upcycling here.

Coffee Grounds Fabric

Our final fabric has been around for a little while, but with the recent surge in interest in Upcycling and reuse, hopefully they’ll get even bigger than they already are. Singtex is a Taiwanese company that has been developing and making fabric out of coffee since they came up with the idea in 2005. With 146 billion cups of coffee consumed each year just in the US alone, finding a way to reuse all those old coffee grinds (mixed with old plastic bottles) is a fantastic way to reduce waste. Coffee grinds come with an additional bonus; they naturally help eliminate odor. In fact the creator of the fabric got the initial idea when he was sitting at a Starbucks and people there asked the workers for coffee grinds, so they could use them as an air freshener. Oh, and fun upcycling tip, coffee grounds can be used as an air freshener.

Hope these futuristic fabric rundowns gave you ideas on some fun sustainable textiles to look out for, and give you hope that a more sustainable future is possible! Check out the journal page on Rust and Fray’s website or follow our Instagram and Facebook for more ideas on sustainability.

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