sustainability

Process, Sustainability

Local vs Organic Textiles

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When choosing fabrics you often have to decide between different sustainability criteria. For example: whether a fibre uses more water (cotton),more chemicals in the processing (bamboo), or a locally made fibre (linen)? It is hard to weigh up the environmental impact of your decisions. Is it better to lower the carbon footprint of our fabrics by not shipping them across the globe? And if we just buy local what happens to the communities in other countries who rely on textile manufacture?

I often struggle with the decision between Organic vs Locally produced textiles. I strongly believe in the certification of textiles and I hope that one day there will be a more universal certification process whereby we can trust that our fabrics are made in an ethical and sustainable way. I use GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified cotton which means that it meets their strict criteria in terms of pesticides and working conditions. The cotton is grown and woven in India and so it is shipped an enormous distance to the UK and producing a lot of carbon in the process .

The linen I use is made locally here in Scotland and so has a much lower carbon footprint in terms of transport, it isn’t certified organic and although I would ideally like to use all GOTS fabrics I think that the benefits of using a locally produced linen outweigh certification. Linen is generally grown without the use of pesticides and most of the flax is produced in Europe, it uses less water than cotton and lasts much longer due to the strength of the fibres.

These decisions are personal to each designer and I believe that there should be choice, the important thing to me is that producers and retailers of fabrics are transparent when it comes to information. There is a whole lot of green wash surrounding textiles and we are constantly sold the new ‘eco-fibre’ that is going to save the planet without fully understanding the whole picture.

I question these decisions all the time in my design process and I review them constantly. I would be interested to hear from other designers about this decision making process when it comes to materials? What is more important to you? Are you let by your customers and what they choose?

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*Image is a wood block print using Scottish Linen (https://www.scottishlinen.com)

Process

The Textile Inks That I Use

 
 

A key aspect of the ethos around KYE as a design studio is the transparency in the materials and manufacturing process used to make our products. Within the textiles industry there is always a hidden element and unwillingness to share process and materials, whether to guard trade secrets or simply an unknown supply chain. This is hopefully beginning to change as consumers are demanding more and more information on the where, how and what is used during manufacture. There are fantastic organisations such as Fashion Revolution working towards transparency in the fashion industry and I believe this is equally important for the the enormous home textiles market.

When I started KYE I wanted it to be completely transparent in the process and materials used. I am always looking for the more sustainable options and materials found closer to home. Here is some information on the inks I use and if you would like to know more please comment below or drop me a message.

Organic Textile Inks

The inks used by KYE as they all carry the Soil Association approval. Soil Association UK is the certifying body for GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) which regulates the production of organic textiles. I believe in regulation in the textile industry and that it is key to change the horrific impact of our textiles on the planet and the people who make them.

“All chemical inputs such as dyestuffs and auxiliaries used must meet certain environmental and toxicological criteria” - Except from The Standard by GOTS

You can read more about the criteria of organic inks on the GOTS website.

Made in the UK

I use Fujifilm’s Texiscreen Aqua AJ inks as they are made right here in the UK, so reducing shipping transport emissions. There are other brands of textile inks which are certified organic but they are made in other countries and so it is definitely worth researching what is made closest to you and taking this into consideration.

Water based

There are many varieties of textile inks and these all bond to textile fibres in a different way. Many of the processes require a stage of steaming and washing after they have been printed. I wanted to eliminate both water waste and contamination of water by using a dye that is heat fixed. My textiles can of course be washed if needed but the print is fixed to the fibres by using either a heat press or hot iron therefore eliminating water waste.


Waste reduction

One of the fantastic things about woodblock printing is that it requires so much less in when compared to silkscreen printing. As my blocks do not need to be washed after each print (and therefore reducing water contamination too) this saves an enormous quantity of ink.

ANY Questions?

Please get in touch if you would like to know more about these inks or my process. This is not a completely unflawed system and I hope to improve as my work develops, I truly believe in transparency of process in design and with collaboration and communication we can become more environmentally responsible designers and makers.