1. Dying with Air, or How to Save Water in the Coloring Process
During the dying process, water is used to apply color, but also to push the fabrics through machines. New machines by companies like Fongs are using air to push the fabrics, thus reducing the amount of water used. With this method, the dying of a t-shirt can go from requiring 200 to using only 50 liters of water (Textile World).
Another, more eco sound, alternative is a system called AirDye, which works with proprietary dyes that are heat-transferred from paper to fabric in a one-step process. This can save between seven and 75 gallons of water in the dying of a pound of fabric, save energy, and produces no harmful by-products.
It was developed in California by Colorep.
2. Digital Printing
Companies that produce machines and inks include Japanese-based Itochu Corpand Huntsman, but fabrics that produce digital print fabrics can be easily found online.
3. Recycled PET Bottles
Fabrics with some percentage of recycled PET can be found in many labels today, and recently the material stepped up to enter the high-end fashion world with the Ecotech Zegna solar jacket.
Even if these fabrics are non-biodegradable, their production uses less crude than the manufacturing of new polyester and keeps plastic bottles from landfills.
And with leather becoming a less popular material among environmentalists, cork's versatility and leather-like use is blooming.
Did we mention it's impermeable, fire-resistant, easily cleaned and long lasting and dust and dirt repellent?
5. Fabrics from Recycled Materials
Other alternatives include, for example, fabrics made with nylon recovered from products like nets and carpets by Mipan. An example of the use of this is the swimwear line Eco Panda.
Some factories are also recycling cotton industrial leftovers, which keeps these scraps from incinerators or landfills and creates new materials. One example is the Italian initiative EcotecProject.
6. Wash-Free Clothes: Freezing Jeans
Enter the recently launched line of jeans by Brazilian manufacturer Tristar, which they claim can be 'cleaned' from bacteria (not stains) with 24 hours in the freezer inside a special bag.
According to owners of the brand, this kills all bacteria. Stains, however, need to be washed out in traditional ways.
7. Fabrics from Exotic New Materials
Some new alternatives include Seacell, produced with vegetable cellulose mixed with seaweed; Piña fiber, made with fibers obtained from the leaves of pineapple plants;Lenpur, from the pulp of sustainably cultivated white fir wood; and Banana fabric, made with stems and leaves of banana trees.
Various projects in Europe have begun developing new ways to produce fabrics with nettle, and one of the commercial products with it, STINGplus, recently won an award in London.
Last year, also in England, BBC presenter Kylie Pentelow wore the first nettle dressmade of these fibers, from Leicester's De Montfort University investigation project.
Advantages? It's a weed, which makes it very resistant, needless of fertilizers and pesticides, and easy on water use. Plus, its fibers are longer and stronger than cotton, and finer than hemp. Some people call this the most sustainable fiber ever, though finishing processes have to move on so that it can become massive.
Courtesy of TreeHugger