Linen is the perfect summer fabric; breezy, heat resistant and super soft on the skin. It’s also one fabric that has an important role to play in creating a more sustainable fashion future. Linen is one of the most environmentally sustainable textiles going around. Here are all the reasons why we love linen!
1. The Natural Material
Linen is woven from the fibres of the flax plant. The fibres are taken from the stalk or the inner bark of the plant. It is categorised as a bast fibre alongside hemp and jute. This natural material is one of the oldest textiles and was used heavily in Ancient Egyptian culture. It eventually became very popular in Europe, especially in France. Linen’s popularity decreased dramatically with the industrialisation of cotton in the 19th century. Today, linen only accounts for 1% of global textile consumption, which is a shame as it has so many sustainable benefits.
2. The Sustainable Benefits of Linen
Linen is really a fabulous fibre. It uses far fewer resources than man made polyester, which is a plastic derived from fossil fuels, and much less than its fellow plant-based fibre cotton.
Flax needs 60% less water to grow than cotton simply because it is primarily grown in wetter climates and can rely solely on rainwater. In contrast, cotton is often grown in drought prone areas and needs intensive irrigation. Irrigating soils have long-tail effects including soil erosion and salinity, which means overtime, the quality of the soil is diminished. Flax is not as susceptible to disease and pests as the cotton plant so it requires less chemical pesticides and fertilisers. The other bonus with the flax plant is that it is very versatile and other parts of the plant can be used to make other useful products so nothing gets wasted. Linseed oil used as a furniture and wood varnish is just one example. And if that wasn’t enough, if linen is left undyed and in its natural colour – ivory, tan, grey, ecru – it is 100% biodegradable.
3. Linen Is All Class
Linen has a lovely soft texture and drapes beautifully. Wearing it top to bottom is reminiscent of spending your days on a yacht in the south of France, plus it is a great cooling fabric to wear in Summer. It’s one down side is it can crinkle really easily, but we enjoy embracing this slightly less than perfect, easy-going, natural look! As well as trendy Summer clothing staples, linen is a popular choice for undergarments, bedding and tablecloths.