When shopping for products that are made without chemicals or are manufactured in a way that is not damaging to the environment you may see words like: Natural, organic, Eco-friendly, green and environmentally conscious. What exactly are natural materials and why should we as consumers be concerned with them?
Any fiber or material that is derived from plants or animals and that is biodegradable is considered to be natural. Here is a list of the most popular natural fibers:
- Hemp/ Jute/ Sisal
Bamboo is an item with high tensile strength and flexibility. It is often used in some parts of Asia as scaffolding to support tall buildings where high winds and earth quakes are prevalent. In the past, bamboo has even been used to construct entire homes. It is long lasting, and durable, with an excellent natural sustainability quality. In recent years viscose from bamboo has become more popular as a material that and can be found in bed linens, towels, and even clothing. It can be spun into smooth, durable yarns that produce long lasting, beautifully textured materials.
Some environmentally conscious consumers shop for organic cotton clothing, towels, bedding, and other household furnishings. Organic cotton bed linen is one of the most popular uses for organically grown cotton. As the popularity of living green increases, more Eco-friendly oriented consumers are realizing how comfortable it is to sleep on organic cotton sheets for year- round comfort. Organic cotton robes have long been used by spas for natural, plush comfort for their guests. Cotton is also used in batting for quilts, mattress pads, and pillows. When all natural 100% organic cotton is used, there is less chance of being exposed to toxins and harmful chemicals.
Wood fibers, while very durable and strong, are not as widely used as plant and animal fibers. But, wood fibers are one of the main sources of paper and house materials. Items such as plywood and fiber board are widely used in the construction of furniture and buildings.Wood fibers do not necessarily have to come from trees. Wood fibers can also be obtained from the stems and stalks of woody stemmed plants such as bamboo. Recycled paper can also be processed from wood fiber. This makes wood fiber a highly versatile source for material.
Hemp, jute, and sisal are most commonly used for rope and twine making. These plant based fibers are well known for their long lasting, high tensile durability. These materials can also be made into cloth for such things as tarps, canvas, flooring, dartboards, and even mattresses. These three materials are also often blended into industrial carpeting. Because of its durability, the blend of hemp/ jute/sisal helps carpet from being worn down quickly in high traffic areas. It also is also used for shower curtains because of its resistance to mildew and humidity, and drapery to create a natural and rustic feel throughout a home. There are also certain types of papers produced from these three products and the fibers have been manufactured into certain types of building materials. Some Eco-friendly clothing manufacturers have even begun making shirts and pants from these three plant based materials.
Wool is found in carpets, clothing, boots, sweaters, blankets, and even seat covers. Wool resists staining and also is a natural moisture repellant. Because of its low retention of static electricity, wool is often the main fiber used for carpets in high safety environments such as trains and aircraft. Wool blended garments are generally standard issue for military personnel, fire fighters, and others who work in an environment where there be an exposure to fire.
Sheep’s wool has been used for many years as clothing, boots, and blankets. But due to many people trying to become more environmentally aware, many green homes and commercial buildings have begun using it for insulation. The woolen fibers are spun into a thick felt like material and formed into rolls, much like traditional insulation, and placed between the joists of a home or office. The manufacture of wool insulation uses far less carbon dioxide than the making of traditional fiber glass insulation. One unique feature of sheep’s wool insulation is that it absorbs moisture without losing its insulation properties.
This means that when it absorbs moisture it gives off heat and when it releases moisture, it cools the surrounding area. It is a NATURAL choice for insulation not only because it is Eco-friendly, but in time will pay for itself in the reduction of heating and cooling bills.
Natural materials may be initially expensive, but because of their long lasting durability, they save money in the long run since they do not have to be replaced as often. The use of natural materials reduces the environmental impact by lessening the use of chemicals that our bodies are exposed to.
An even better way to be Eco-friendly is to use organic, natural materials. By building and insulating our homes and businesses with natural materials, we are being Eco-friendly and creating a sustainable environment that preserves the planet for future generations. The more organic clothing, bedding, and household goods consumers utilize, their exposure to hazardous chemicals and need for new materials is reduced. By shopping green, building green and living green-we all benefit.
Are Naturals recognizes the necessity of being environmentally responsible in the way we shop and the products we purchase for our homes and businesses. By using natural materials for our clothing, bedding, furniture, and even insulating our homes, we lessen our impact on the environment, not only today, but for future generations.