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Fabric Comparison Chart
 
Availability
Characteristics
Processing
Cost Factors
Organic Cotton
cotton
Produced in 24 countries
Cotton is cool, soft and comfortable, non-pilling, stands up to high abraision, high temperatures, and wears well.
Organic cotton is processed without toxic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers using non GMO seeds
Cost is higher than regularly processed cotton until you factor in the human and ecological toll from poisoning of air and surface water.
Flax - Linen
flax
Produced in 10 countries
Flax fibers at their best are soft, lustrous, flexible and stronger than cotton, but less elastic
Farming requires few pesticides or fertilizers, but finer linen costs more as the preparation process is much more labor intensive.
GMO flax has appeared in Canada and in Sept. 2009 deemed unapproved and considered contaminated. For flax plants, soil suitability in gravelly, dry or sandy areas is also a limiting factor.
Bamboo
bamboo
Produced in diverse climates with only Europe and Antarctica exempt.
Bamboo fabric in its natural simpler form is like flax or hemp and has anit-microbial properties. The softer, more lustrous bamboo fabric is super absorbent.
The simpler form is broken down by natural enzymes. The softer bamboo is reprocessed (similar to rayon) in a chemical process using lye and strong acids that destroy anti-microbial qualities.
Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth, but of serious concern is the clearing of forests to establish bamboo plantations, thus destroying habitats and ecosystems.
Hemp
hemp
Produced in 30 countries
Hemp is strong, durable, resistant to ultraviolet light and mold. Commercially it is amazingly multi-functional.
Hemp grows quickly. On the same land it produces 250% more than cotton and 600% more than flax. Requires few pesticides or herbicides.
Hemp blends easily with other fibers, especially cotton. Its availability and versatility helps to lower costs.
The fabrics below are wood pulp (cellulose) fibers harvestable continuously after establishment. They have a 3-7 year growing season.
Eucalyptus Tree - Lyocell
eucalyptus
Originally from Australia, now produced globally in tropical areas.
Can simulate textures from suede to silk and makes a wonderful blend with cotton.
Processing is thru-solvent spinning similar to rayon, and is a re-processing. Substantial amount of energy is required, but process produces a byproduct so minimal it is labeled eco-friendly.
This fabric is more expensive to produce than cotton or rayon. Eucalyptus forests are prone to fire, are found to be invasive to native species, re-processing costs are high.
Beech Tree - Modal
beech tree
Produced in temperate Europe, Asia, North America, New Zealand, Argentina, and Chile.
Twice as absorbent as cotton and takes dye like cotton. Resistant to shrinkage and fading. Smooth, silky surface feels mercerized, yet still prone to wrinkling.
Process is by spinning reconstituted cellulose. Beech tree fiber is essentially a variety of rayon, produced from polymers as a semi-synthetic fiber.
Growth in all soils except wet. Beech blight is common. Modal is a relative newcomer to the textile industry, but a fine fiber to mix with other natural fibers. Like other re-processed fibers, energy costs can be high.
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