Eco-friendly fabrics & blinds

What your options are for more eco-friendly textiles

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Eco-friendly fabrics and blinds

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We flee the city to connect with nature and breathe fresh air. What could be worse, then, than arriving at a cottage that reeks of fumes off-gassed from new vinyl blinds? Or knowing that the making of some of our most common fabrics—such as cotton and polyester—has dire environmental consequences? While sustainable textiles are still relatively hard to find, switching to eco-savvy alternatives makes for a healthier cottage—and a happier planet.

Natural fibres

cotton plantsCotton is the world’s most ubiquitous natural fibre, but its conventional cultivation uses such large amounts of water and agricultural chemicals that it’s also the planet’s most unsustainable fabric. Organic cotton minimizes pesticide and insecticide use, but since it is still a very thirsty plant, other natural fibres prove more eco-friendly. Hemp, for instance, is a renewable resource that’s naturally resistant to stains, mould, and bacteria. Its fibres can be woven into material used for rugs and textiles. Linen and bamboo provide soft, skin-friendly products such as towels and bedsheets, while coarser sisal, jute, and abaca can also be woven into durable rugs.

Recycled content

Unlike natural fibres, synthetic textiles come from non-renewable petroleum and are often made with harmful solvents and heavy-metal dyes. But some manufacturers now recycle polyester for a range of upholstery fabrics. While these companies cater mostly to the commercial market, they also sell to the public. Look for Eco Intelligent and Terratex fabrics.

For more information about environmentally friendly fabrics, check The Sustainable Furniture Council, a non-profit whose tagging program identifies good choices in order to promote sustainable practices among manufacturers, retailers, and consumers, and TreeHugger, for a directory of greener fabrics used in the home and to make clothing.

This article was originally published on July 6, 2008

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