Materials We Use
Using the right materials is key to creating a sustainable product.
The origin, physical characteristics and design of all materials are carefully analyzed in order to select the ones that will be part of our bags.
- Organic Cotton
- What makes a material sustainable?
Even though 2.5% of all cultivated land on Earth is dedicated to growing cotton, it consumes 16% of all pesticides. Growing non-organic cotton requires massive amounts of harmful chemicals, which pollute water, soil and put the health of farmers, animals and the ecosystem at risk. If you would like to learn more about the impacts of conventionally grown cotton, read this article.
Turns out that cotton is an amazing fiber. Cotton is the very symbol of natural fiber used for textiles, as we humans have been weaving it for thousands of years. Cotton is durable, it has that amazing look and feel, and it’s compostable!
So, in order to use this great fiber, while significantly decreasing its environmental impact, we only use organic cotton.
Most of the organic cotton we use is GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) Certified. "The aim of the standard is to define world-wide recognized requirements that ensure organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labelling in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer." Bhajekar, Rahul. “General Description - Global Standard GGmbH.” Global Organic Textile Standard, https://www.global-standard.org/the-standard/general-description.html
Any cotton fabric we use which is not GOTS certified, is certified by the local agricultural authority as being made from organically farmed cotton. This way we make sure that the farming section of the fabric life cycle is organic, which is our main point of concern.
Hemp is another amazing fiber. This cousin of marijuana is really something else. Just like cotton, hemp has been used by us humans for thousands of years, but in recent history it has suffered some unjust judgement because of its relations with its cousin, who is still considered an outlaw in most countries.
Hemp doesn’t only meet our sustainability criteria, it goes beyond!
First of all, it demands virtually no pesticide to be grown. There have been records of hemp being planted on the same land for 14 cycles without reducing the quantity of nutrients in the soil. More than that, it consumes very little water and traps more carbon from the air than other plants. It’s even great for crop rotation, used to support organic farming methods.
When turned into a textile material, hemp is strong, durable and naturally resistant to mold. If properly woven, it results in a soft material with a nice feel as well as beautiful in its natural tone.
Other than organic cotton and hemp, Rather Green bags also contain blends of both materials, which combine their benefits.
You can see that many of our bags use little metals snaps to help them stay closed. These snaps are made of steel and nickel, which are highly recyclable metals. We instruct our customers to separate these snaps from the fabric when it’s time to dispose the bags, and to include the snaps into their local metal recycling programs.
What is a sustainable material?
A sustainable material is one that does the least possible harm to the environment and to the people working on and around it.
In order to evaluate how sustainable a material is, we look into its entire life cycle:
A textile starts its journey at the farm. If crops are grown with application of toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, the environment around it and the farmers working on it will be severely affected. This is the reason why we only use cotton that is grown organically.
The next step is looking into how the crop fibers become a thread, a yarn, a fabric. This process often utilizes a great amount of harmful chemicals, and sometimes in not well-maintained facilities. So we make sure that any material we use is either GOTS certified or from a supplier we can trust on adopting the best possible practices in this crucial step.
As it becomes a fabric, the material must have the physical properties necessary in terms of resistance, durability and biodegradability. We need to make sure the materials we use will withstand the test of time while performing well as a product. Moreover, after the bag has done its job, the materials must be able to decompose in the natural environment, without the assistance of an industrial facility. Simply by being included in a favourable environment, the material breaks down until being completely degraded by bacteria, returning to the soil and serving as nutrients for other forms of life.