Well, there are a bunch of reasons.
First, stinging nettle is a weed. It grows just about everywhere. Which means that you don’t need pesticides and fertilizer for it to thrive. So, nettle is kind to the environment and incredibly easy to grow.
Next, stinging nettle naturally retards flame. Which means when the plant fiber is woven in with other materials like cotton or wool, dangerous, flame-retardant chemicals don’t have to be used. Another big plus for us, and the environment.
Last, stinging nettle is incredible strong when it’s woven into a fabric. According to Treehugger, stinging nettle is stronger than cotton and finer than hemp.
All of this is leading many green fashion designers to proclaim that nettle is the new bamboo. So, will it actually take off?
I personally haven’t seen firsthand, or touched, fabric made from the stinging nettle plant. But I’m sure it’s fabulous. The discovery that nettle can be turned into a great eco fabric is not a new thing (people have been using nettle as fabric for centuries). But it seems to be getting more attention now that green fashion looks like it’s actually going to stick around. Yay!
Camiro Fabrics is one company who has made the leap. They make upholstery fabric, and their Sting Plus fabric is, they say, their most sustainable fabric yet. The fabric is made using 75% wool and 25% stinging nettle fiber.
STING (Sustainable Technologies in Nettle Growing…don’t you love the name?) is a non-profit organization based in the UK who are currently studying the use of nettles in fabrics. They’re also trying to discover what else this handy plant can be used for, as well as how to integrate nettle crops in with other common crops for maximum yield and diversity.
I think this is super exciting, mostly because nettle grows fast and it doesn’t need the incredible amount of chemicals that cotton does. If nettle fiber can truly compete with the softness of cotton, we might see a major shift in non-food crops in the years to come.
Filed under: Eco Fashion on December 21st, 2010