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20 Oct '15

Paper Clothing

Posted by Unicorn Goods

We read a great article in this quarter's print issue of Good on paper fabric. It isn't online yet, and you should definitely buy the issue to give it a full read. It's titled "Who Killed Paper Clothing?" by Allen Salkin. The gist is this: paper clothing was one on the rise, but is no longer being explored as a sustainable clothing source.

Paper, as you know, is a biodegradable material made from trees. But the funny thing about this article, which references the newly-released film The True Cost about the questionable sustainability and ethics of the fashion industry, is that we've been making clothes from trees since 1855 (cite Wiki). The difference in the tree-derived fabrics we use and "paper" is that fabrics are woven and paper is pressed. But whether it's fabric or paper, it comes from the same place.

Maybe you've heard of rayon? Rayon is made from... wait for it.... trees! Many different types of rayon are being used today and seeing a rise in popularity for notable sustainability. The best of these is Tencel - but we'll get to that later.

Below is a quick look at the taxonomical derivative of some of the fabrics you see commonly listed on labels that are factory-generated. A "synthetic" fiber either comes from coal/petroleum or plants (cellulose):

  • petro-based fiber: from coal/petroleum
  • nylon
  • polyester
  • cellulose fiber: biologically derived (from plants)
  • Acetate
  • Rayon: fabric from at least 85% cellulose (can be from any plant, but normally from trees, normally from pine, spruce, or hemlock)
  • Viscose: most common form of rayon, but very wasteful
  • Modal: normally from beech trees
  • Lyocell: normally oak and birch trees
  • Tencel: trademarked brand of lyocell from eucalyptus trees
  • Sonora (partially derived from corn)

  • In our very scientific research for this article, we watched this sweet educational video from the 1940s. CHECK. IT. OUT.



    And if you liked that, this one's pretty awesome, too, and explains rayon's use in the fashion industry. It was actually made initially as a synthetic silk alternative - so rayon could really be considered one of the first vegan products!


    So, you know, we do wear paper clothes. The best of the cellulose fibers available today is apparently Tencel, which is made from eucalyptus trees by a single company.


    Read more at in the current issue of Good, or shop Tencel items here.

    bio-based clothing eco-friendly fashion vegan materials

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