We know you've heard of organic cotton, bamboo and hemp textiles, but what about textiles made from algae? Soy? Pine pulp? Stinging nettles? (Yes, stinging nettles.) We have a few surprises in store for you then...
1. Seacell: this fiber is derived from wood pulp and seaweed (algae) that, according to its manufacturer Smartfiber AG, actually diffuses its protective and anti-inflammatory properties into the skin, stimulating the metabolism. It's like your clothes are living! Totally intriguing. We've never tried it ourselves. This Seacell Emotion Mattress gets into the details a little more, like how it's "a mattress whose removable cover contains microscopic particles of marine algae fiber that aid in cellular regeneration."
2. Lenpur: this biodegradable fabric is made from white pine tree clippings, and "offers the comfort of silk, the touch of cashmere and the lightness of linen." Lenpur's website states that it's a cut above the other cellulose fibers due to its softness, its absorption capacity and ability to release dampness, and its ability to sustain a higher thermal range —thus keeping you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
3. Lyocell: this fiber is made from biodegradable wood pulp using chemical-free processes. Non-toxic solvents are used in its production and then recycled, creating a manufacturing process with very little byproduct. (However, it sounds like it still uses a ton of energy, so it's not perfect.) It can be blended with other fibers to create fabrics like SeaCell (Lyocell and Seaweed, shown above) and Hempcel (Lyocell and Hemp).
4. SoySilk: this lesser known 100% biodegradable eco-friendly fabric is made from tofu-manufacturing waste. Soy protein is liquefied and then stretched into long, continuous fibers that are cut and processed like any other spinning fiber. Because soy has high protein content, the fabric is very receptive to natural dyes, so there's no need for synthetic dyes.
5. STINGplus Nettle Fabric: Get ready for it... the buzz is that this fabric may be the most sustainable fabric ever. The fabric is woven from the stinging nettle, which "produces a uniquely strong, soft and naturally fire retardant textile fibre" and, blended with pure new wool, it is "the ultimate environmental upholstery solution." The 100% Design Exhibition in London awarded Camira Fabrics, the manufacturer of STINGplus, the 2008 Award for Sustainable Product Design. The fabric is also made with metal-free dyes and is certified to be biodegradable within 28 days.
So, there you have it. It's very cool to get a glimpse into the innovative processes that are bringing us the future of textiles.
Image via Ping Mag