Choosing a material

Over the last couple of days I have been looking into material options for my progect. As I have changed product from a shopping bag to more of an everyday bag/ handbag it has limited my options in what I might be able to source. It would have been nice to be able to hand make the bag but time and my lack of sewing skills made that unrealistic.

The materials options I was looking into were

  • 100% Non-woven Polypropylene (NWPP)
  • Recycled PET
  • Cotton/ canvas
  • Calico
  • Hemp
  • Jute

I found this great site called All About Bags which lists the advantages and disadvantages of reusable bag types. Based on this source and looking at the types everyday bags available I’m leaning towards using Jute.

Jute is a long, soft and shiny vegetable fibre which is 100% bio-degradable and compostable. Being so environmentally friendly makes it a great material option for my project. Jute is one of the strongest natural fibres and can be spun into coarse threads and has high tensile strength and low extensibility. Second only to cotton, it is the one of the most abundant fibres in regards to usage, production, and availability. Bangladesh is the largest exporters of raw Jute and India is the largest producers and consumers of jute products. (1)

 

The advantages of Jute

  • “Jute fibre is 100% bio-degradable and compostable.
  • One hectare of jute plants can consume about 15 tons of CO2 and release about 11 tons of oxygen during the jute growing season.
  • Jute fibre is the cheapest vegetable fibre procured from the bast or skin of the plant’s stem.
  • Globally jute is the second most important vegetable fibre after cotton in regard to terms of usage, production, and availability.
  • Jute fibre has high tensile strength, low extensibility, and ensures better breathability compared to synthetics.
  • Jute produces top quality yarn, fabric, and sacks. It is one of the most versatile natural fibres used for packaging, textiles, and agricultural sectors.
  • Jute is a renewable resource with a high production per hectare.
  • The best source of jute in the world is the Bengal Delta Plain in the Ganges Delta, most of which is occupied by Bangladesh.
  • The production of polypropylene fibre, the main synthetic competitor of jute, requires 10-20 times more energy consumption than does the production of jute.
  • Jute has the ability to be blended with other fibres, both synthetic and natural, and accepts various dyes such as natural, basic, vat, sulfur, reactive, and pigment dyes. As the demand for natural fibres increase, the demand for jute and other natural fibres that can be blended with cotton will increase. Combined jute/cotton blends may produce fabrics with a reduced cost of wet processing treatments. Jute can also be blended with wool.
  • The growing of jute provides an income for more than 4 million farming families in poor communities.” (2)

 

The disadvantages of Jute

  • “Scarcity of supply as used primarily to store crops
  • The bags are not very resistant to moisture unless chemically treated or laminated
  • Grainy texture
  • Not easily branded—print capability is clunky and limited—so fewer organizations choose this material for their bags
  • Needs to be washed regularly to prevent bacterial cross contamination of food” (3)

I also found this great website in relation to the South Australian region http://www.zerowaste.sa.gov.au/  They have a lots of information in terms of food waste and composting, recycling at work and home and e-waste as well as reports on shopping bags

(1) http://www.worldjute.com/about_jute/juthist.html
(2) http://www.alburyenvirobags.com.au/Jute-Story.php
(3) http://www.allaboutbags.ca/typesofbags.html

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