Why natural fibres are best for the Planet

Ravir is passionate about the need to avoid synthetic fibres wherever possible, if not for ourselves, then for the Planet. Every time a synthetic garment such as polar fleece is washed, the fibres make their way into the rivers and ocean, where they are ingested by marine life, and ultimately find their way into our food chain. But it’s not only polyfleece that’s the problem, it’s the continued production of acrylic and polyester fabrics (also known as plastic clothing) which are adding to the every-growing pile-up of plastics in our rivers and oceans.

For these reasons, Ravir carries mostly natural fabrics. There are exceptions, of course, including rainwear and some other garments, but we strive to keep these items to a minimum.

From our perspective, the best fabrics for the planet are hemp, cotton, linen, silk, and woollen fibres of various kinds, based on the following factors.

Hemp is renowned for its strength and durability and is fast making a comeback as an alternative to synthetics and to cotton grown with herbicides and chemicals.  Hemp grows quickly, is resistant to most pests, and therefore needs little by the way of chemicals and fertilizers to help its growth.  It has a anti-bacterial and antifungal properties, so it resists odor.  Hemp, when compared to cotton, is more durable, often lasting many years. It can be quite coarse initially but softens with wear.

Bamboo‘s evolution as a textile fibre is much more recent.  Most of the bamboo is sourced in Asia where it grows naturally, without the need for fertilizers or pesticides.  Bamboo is considered nature’s renewable resource.  As one of the fastest growing plants on Earth, you can almost see it grow.   Bamboo / cotton products are extremely soft, comfortable and cool.  Their soft texture and crease resistant characteristics complement antibiotic properties and UV ray protection.  Bamboo’s durability, elastic resilience and moisture absorption provide an outstanding naturally friendly fabric. Ravir carries a range of clothing such as socks, tees, skirts, pants and cardigans.

Organic cotton is another favourite, as it is grown without fertilizers or pesticides, reducing some of the effects on the environment that results from growing by traditional methods.  Some organic cotton is grown in Australia as well as the US and parts of Asia.  To give some idea of the benefits of organic cotton, one supplier of organic cotton garments points out that a tee-shirt made of organic cotton saves the Earth around 226 grams or ½ a pound of toxic chemicals.  There is a distinct difference between the feel of regular cotton and that which is grown organically.

Modal is made from tree fibres. One of the best-known is Tani’s Micromodal range, which is made from a licensed fabric made from Austrian beechwood.  As a fabric it is so soft it’s hard to resist.  Modal is often used for underwear because of its softness on the skin.  It’s great for layering (light and comfortable) and for nightwear.  It travels well, washes like a dream, and comes in a range of styles and colours that keeps getting better every season.

For winter, possum and merino can’t be beaten for warmth. The combination is a very light but superbly warm compared with woollen-only garments. Possum and merino is perfect for colder climates. It’s great for those who feel the cold, as the warming effect is almost instant. The reason for its superior warmth is the fact that possum fur is hollow, making for great insulation properties. It’s a great fibre for overseas travel, as it’s incredibly light but superbly warm. Silk is also surprisingly warm, while being light and soft on the skin. It’s one of the most glamorous fabrics for clothing, as the lightness of the fabric and its sheen gives it a beautiful drape and movement on the body.

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