Eco-Friendly Fiber: Jute

Jute Farmers, image courtesy World Prout Assembly

Did you know that when it comes to eco-friendly fibers, jute is right up there with hemp and bamboo?

For many people, jute is kind of off the radar when it comes to green fabrics. Back in the 1700-1800s, jute was a wonder crop, but the growing of jute, and its production into sustainable fibers, largely dropped off in the early to mid 1900s when synthetic fibers started making their appearance.

But the use of jute is starting to see a resurgence in this country. Why? Because it’s one of the most affordable crops in the world to grow. And, it’s second only to cotton in the number of uses it has. India is the world’s largest jute producing country, but a great deal of jute is also grown in Bangladesh, Pakistan and China.

Jute fabric is also known as burlap. It’s brown, fairly rough in its raw state, and won’t irritate your allergies.

So, why is jute so eco friendly?

  • It’s 100% biodegradable.
  • It doesn’t need pesticides or fertilizers to grow.
  • Jute makes the best yarns and commercial packaging…even better than synthetic fibers and materials.
  • Jute grows to maturity in 4-6 months. But the stem of the plant also contains jute hurd, which is very similar to wood pulp. Current crops of jute could meet the world’s wood needs (without having to harvest any more trees) if people would simply harvest all of it instead of letting it go to waste.

Uses for Jute

Jute is a wonderfully strong fabric, and I have several things in my own home made from jute.

For instance, my favorite reusable shopping bag is made from jute. The thing is tough as nails, and the perfect size for toting home produce.

I also have a super cool summer rug made from jute.

Jute is also commonly blended with cotton (to make it softer) in home fabrics (think sofas, curtains, etc.). Why? Because jute is strong, durable and has UV protection.

What else is jute used to make?

  • Darling summertime espadrille sandals
  • Carpet backing
  • Wrapping for bales of cotton
  • Imitation silk (really!)
  • Wall coverings
  • Yarns and twines
  • Upholstery
  • Bags

As you can see, jute is a versatile and eco-friendly crop that, I think, doesn’t get enough attention. Personally I love jute, and the way it feels on my barefeet (thanks to my rug and espadrilles!) and would love to have more jute items in my life.

What about you? Do you have any items made with jute fabric?

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One Response to “Eco-Friendly Fiber: Jute”

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