A guide to greener outdoor clothing and materials

rohantime guide to greener outdoor clothing
Rohantime, 17 May 2011
Alpaca wool is very enduring. Insecticides are not injected into the Alpaca sheep fleece. The animal is very hardy. Most Alpaca products are imported at the moment.
A natural fibre from the bamboo plant. Bamboo has natural, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Bamboo fabric can absorb up to four times more moisture than cotton. It is because of this it has attracted interest amongst outdoor garment manufacturers. Bamboo viscose is a fibre which has been reconstituted from the original bamboo fiber and therefore small amounts of original bamboo fiber remain.

Blue Angle
The Blue Angel (Blauer Engel) is a German certification for products and services that have environmentally friendly aspects.

Castor Beans
An interesting new yarn made from Greenfil, a polymer that comes from Castor Beans. The castor plants are from Africa and Asia and are grown on land which cannot be farmed. There is no irrigation of the crops, they are not produced from genetically modified seeds and they are 100% renewable biomass.

Chlorine-Free Wool
In order to render wool machine washable it is often pretreated with chlorine. Millions of pounds of wool are processed each year using this chlorine-based method. There are a few alternative processes that achieve the same results without the use of chlorine. A small number of outdoor companies have source wool that is chlorine-free.

Coconut Shells - CoCona®
CoCona is activated carbon made from recycled coconut shells. The manufacturers states it provide effective evaporative cooling, odour adsorption and UV protection. Cocona® fibers and yarns are used in a wide range of knits in outdoor garments.

Recycled ground coffee is being used to make an odor control, fast drying, environmentally friendly, absorbent fabric. The process of making fabric out of coffee grounds is very similar to that used to turn bamboo into a viscose-like material. It's impregnated with 'activated' carbon, derived from coconut, which makes it UV-resistant, wicks water away, keeps the wearer cool and binds to sweat to eliminate unpleasant odours. Currently used for mid and base layers.

Eco Textile
The collective term of eco textiles refers to a group of textiles that have a reduced, carbon, energy and pollution impact when compared to the standard methods used to produce textiles and manufacture clothing.

Flax is grown both for its seeds and for its fibers. Various parts of the plant have been used to make fabric, dye, paper, medicines, fishing nets, hair gels, and soap. Flax seed is the source of linseed oil, which has uses as an edible oil, as a nutritional supplement and as an ingredient in many wood finishing products. Flax fibers are amongst the oldest fiber crops in the world. Flax fiber is soft, lustrous and flexible; bundles of fiber have the appearance of blonde hair, hence the description "flaxen". Flax is the emblem of Northern Ireland and used by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Green Labeling
Oeko-Tex Standard 100 has become the best known and most successful label for textiles tested for harmful substances. The Oeko-Tex label is a recognized benchmark for the consumer and also serves as a quality assurance tool for the manufacturer.

For centuries the hemp fiber has been used for paper, rope and cloth. Hemp fiber is extremely durable and makes great clothing (Levi jeans originally made with hemp). Because of its strength it is again being used by some outdoor clothing manufacturers but to date it is being blended with other fibres.

A new fabric made from fermented plant sugars from corn. Conventionally grown corn leaves a particularly large eco-unfriendly footprint via pesticides, water use, and land usage. However Ingeo requires half as much energy as it does to make cotton, even organic cotton, which gives it some advantages.

Term used for natural flax fibre or fabrics made from flax fibre. Characteristics include rapid moisture absorption, natural luster, and stiffness. Fabrics made out of flax yarn have many benefits, including being absorbent and cool to wear under a variety of climatic conditions. Organic flax is grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Textiles in a linen-weave texture, even when made of cotton, hemp and other non-flax fibres are also loosely referred to as "linen".

Lyocell™ Fibre
Also called Tencel™. Produced from cellulose, the main material in plant cells usually from trees. The production process for Lyocell is extremely environmentally friendly – the fibre has all the advantages of a natural material and is 100% bio-degradable.

The Merino is a breed of sheep prized for its wool in New Zealand. Merinos are regarded as having fine and soft wool. Merino base layers regulate body temperature by controlling the rate of cooling. They are soft next to skin and odour resistant without the addition of any coatings or additives. A merino base layer is generally priced at the top of the range.

please see Rayon, Tencel and Lyocell Fibre

The common stinging nettle was used to produce textiles for thousands of years. Nettle can be turned into finer fabrics too, with a texture like linen. It has the ability to wick moisture away from the body as well as keeping the wearer cool and trapping warm air, plus being naturally anti-bacterial and mould-resistant.  A Dutch fashion label, has started growing its own nettles in eastern Europe and has brought out a range of smart-casual clothes made from the fabric. And in the Himalayas, the giant nettle, allo, is being spun by local communities to create a fair trade, eco-friendly fabric.

Nylon - Recycled Nylon
Like polyester, virgin nylon fibre is made from crude oil. The recycled nylon yarn now available comes from post-industrial waste fibre and yarn collected from a spinning factory and processed into reusable nylon fibre.

A European standard for the impact of textiles on human ecology and the environment. The International Oeko-Tex Association (Oeko-Tex) Founded in 1992, the International Oeko-Tex Association provides uniform, scientifically founded evaluation standards for the human ecological safety of textiles.

Organic Cotton
Cotton grown without the use of artificial chemicals such as herbicides or pesticides
Peace Silk It is silk from cocoons where the caterpillar is allowed to complete its life cycle, to transform into a winged silk moth, to emerge from the cocoons, find a mate, lay eggs for the next generation, and die happy.

Rayon - See Viscose, Tencel™ and Lycell™
A cellulose based fiber produced from wood or cotton pulp. Newer additions to this group include Tencel™ and Lycell™ produced by Lenzing Fibers Corp based in Austria, in a closed loop process with high environmental credentials and are excellent at moisture management. Rayon is the oldest commercial man made fibre.

Recycled Polyester Fleece
Made from post consumer recycled plastic water bottles. Pioneered in outdoor garments by Pataonia who introduced recycle polyester fleece into their range in 1993.

Recycled polyester
Recycled Polyester is a polyester that has been manufactured by using previously used polyester items. In the outdoor clothing world this is either from polyester water bottles being recycled into polyester fleece or recycled polyester outdoor garment created from used clothes. Patagonia have been able to create polyester garments using previously worn garments. They also started the world’s first garment recycling program - which enables customers to bring their used clothing back for recycling. Patagonia encourage customers to bring in their used Capilene baselayer, Patagonia fleece or Polartec® fleece. The fabric of these items makes them suitable for recycling. Patagonia can create a new garment made from the recycled polyester.

Recycled Polyester Waddings
There are examples 50% recycled material with polyester virgin fibers fillings for insulated jackets and sleeping bags.

Rice Husk Yarn
This will be available from 2012. The rice harvest generates a lot of rice husk waste which is either burnt or thrown away.

Made on Germany from  Lyocell and seaweed. Lyocell consists of 100% wood pulp fibers and SeaCell combines that with approximately 5% seaweed. Reportedly the nutritional and health benefits of seaweed are actually absorbed into your body while you wear this fabric. It’s available in either “Pure” or “Active”
grades. “Active” includes silver woven or embedded throughout, giving it antibacterial properties and the ability to naturally neutralize odors.

A low-grade cloth made from by-products of wool processing, or from recycled wool

Silk is a very old fibre in the outdoor industry, used as a base layer by many early expeditions. It has been superseded by modern synthetic fabrics.

Cultivated in China for 3,000 years, soya is natural, renewable and biodegradable. Soya fabric is a by- product of the soya food industry. The Soya Fibre is made from the hulls of the beans.

Synethic Leather
Synthetic leather is a man made fabric that looks like leather. The term pleather ("plastic leather") is a slang term for synthetic leather made of plastic. Synthetic leather is not the plastic looking, tacky material that it was in the past. Today's synthetic leather is made much better than the early versions.

Sympatex used in Waterproof Jackets
This has been included because it is an example of a greener waterproof fabric. Sympatex Technology uses a material made from polyether and polyester. Polyether ester is recyclable so in the breathable waterproof membranes and coatings field this is considered to be the most environmentally friendly.

Tencel™ see Lyocell Fibre
Tencel™is  produced from cellulose, the main material in plant cells usually from trees. The production
process  is extremely environmentally friendly – the fibre has all the advantages of a natural material and is 100% bio-degradable. To date Tencel™ tends to be blended with other yarns. The fibre is excellent at moisture management.

Vegetable Dyes
Dyes made from vegetable matter such as indigo, safflower, weld, madder and many other flowers vegetables and trees.

Viscose see Rayon, Tencel™ and Lyocell™
The European word for Rayon. A manufactured fiber made of regenerated cellulose, commonly obtained from wood pulp.

Wellness Label
The Hohenstein Institute is an internationally recognised textile research and service centre. Involved in the research, testing and certification of textiles. The label from the Hohenstein Institute called the Wellness Label assures consumers the product can look specifically for certified for comfort and are also easy care.

Glossary provided by Sarah Howcroft - Rohantime

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