Contributed by Mary Alusin
The textile industry will never be without its most popular natural fabrics: wool, linen, cotton, and silk, as well as synthetic fibers. According to global fiber consumption in 2016, cotton has a 24.3% share, other natural fibers have 6.6%, while wool only has 1.1%. First place apparently belongs to synthetic fibers with a share of 62.7%.
But just like other thriving businesses, the industry of textiles has found ways to innovate in its production by creating unique products using fruits. For example, cotton production can be quite labor intensive, and involve many chemicals, sweat, and use up fresh water. As a result, more sustainable and eco-friendly fibers from pineapple, oranges, bananas, coconut and, root crops are being used for fabric production.
The banana plant not only produces one of the most nutritious fruits, but also a durable type of fiber. The fibers are obtained after harvesting the fruits and grouping the bast fibers.
The fiber extraction method is different in various regions, and one of the most popular ways is the Japanese method, which started in the 13th century. This procedure begins with plant care from the moment the seedling is planted. It involves a periodic pruning of the shoots and leaves. Once the shoots are harvested, they are boiled and prepared to be made into fibers.
The shoots produce fibers of varying softness. This results in fibers that are used to make yarn and textiles, producing different qualities for specific purposes as per the softness.
Features of fiber made from bananas
- Lightweight with strong quality of moisture absorption as it absorbs and also releases moisture quickly
- Biodegradable and environment-friendly
- Fiber accepts almost all spinning methods, including ring, bast fiber, open-end, and semi-worsted spinning.
- Strong fiber with smaller elongation
Formerly, the banana fiber was used to make mats, ropes, and composite materials. Its application is increasing, however, with increasing environmental awareness that calls for an eco-friendly fiber with good qualities. Fields such as home furnishings and garments are opting for banana fiber. Currently, it is used to make bags, neckties, table cloths, cushion covers, and curtains.
The coconut palm is referred to as the tree of life since it nourishes in a number of ways, including water, milk, and its meat. But as an asset to the textile industry, the coconut fruit husks contains qualities of fibrousness, providing 10kg worth of fiber.
Some clothing companies are adopting the cocona, which is a fabric enhancer made from coconuts. The fiber from the fruit’s husks is also used as fertilizer for reducing pesticides, enhancing the quality of soil, and making sure that the coconut fashion chain does not break.
Pineapples are more than just juicy tropical fruits. Their leaves, which look like a crown, are being manufactured into textile fibers. Following her frustrations on chemicals heavily used in the process of leather tanning, Ananas Anam CEO Dr. Carmen Hijosa came up with Piñatex, a non-woven textile, to replace chemically manufactured and petroleum-made fabrics.
Piñatex is found in many shops. It is also used in making fashion products such as clothes, handbags, and shoes. A meter of piñatex costs about $18 compared to leather, which is around $30 per meter.
Without a doubt, pineapples are not only affordable edibles but can also be made into strong fabric. The fiber made from this fruit is characterized by biodegradability and high strength. The finished products (i.e. the fabric) are lightweight, soft, and easy to wash.
The orange peel is not something to be thrown away. You can use it to smoothe your skin, and it can even be manufactured to into fabric by extracting the cellulose from the peel.
Through a patented method, the cellulose is extracted from the orange peels and spun to yield the yarn. The final fabric has the same as silk, which appears shiny and feels soft and smooth. Moreover, the yarn is versatile enough that it can be used with other yarns.
In addition to those characteristics, orange-based yarn has a lot to offer. With the help of nanotechnology, the fabric still has Vitamin C and essential oils that are found in the orange peels. It means that, when you wear clothes made from orange fiber, your skin will be nourished by the oils present in the peels.
Root crops produce fiber that is used to make threads. Although the fiber produced from such crops may not fit perfectly in the fashion world, it can still be used for knitting, crocheting, and weaving turnip, carrot, beet, leek, and daikon radish threads.
One of the biggest strengths contributing to fashion and the textile industry is the valorization and respect of local resources. Apart from that, the globalization of products is likely to continue creating interest in the world of style and fashion. In a nutshell, more innovation leads to a better and more thriving business in both the textile and fashion industries.