Today’s eco-question: Will linen replace cotton?

One can’t help but notice that, from emerging designers to established brands, linen has made a real comeback, boosted by its undeniable environmental advantages. So, is linen on the way to supplanting cotton on the road to sustainability?

Accumulated virtues

Linen has significant advantages when compared with conventional cotton, which is regularly singled out for its high consumption of water and pesticides. As the most widely used bast fiber, linen, in Western Europe, is known for its ability to grow with rainwater alone, requiring no irrigation except in the case of extreme drought. (1).

Le lin remplacera-t-il le coton ?

So linen cultivation presents several advantages. First, European linen is grown without GMOs, with few inputs, and in crop rotation. It plays an important role in this crop rotation, thanks to its roots, which structure the earth and improve the yield of the crop that follows. Fiber extraction is also a 100% mechanical and zero waste process. From fibers to co-products such as seeds or straw, everything is exploited.

In addition to these environmental advantages, it’s also important to emphasize the fiber’s performance qualities with regards to apparel. Its high strength and lightness combined with its excellent ventilation and heat-regulation qualities mean that today, linen demand exceeds its offer.

Read also: Smart Keys: Bast fibres—Flax, hemp and nettle, the new El Dorado of responsible fashion?

Heading to first place?

While linen production has jumped by 132% in 10 years, in Western Europe, which represents 80% of world production, right now it still only accounts for 0.4% of fibers, whereas cotton remains the most produced natural fiber, accounting for 22%. ** The idea is not to replace cotton, which in any case would be most unlikely, given the volumes involved, but rather reset the balance between these natural fibers.

The denim industry has, rightly, seized this opportunity to broaden the range of fibers that go into the making of its star fabric, with cotton and linen blends increasingly making their presence felt in compositions. To boost linen’s capacities and meet the growing demand, the European industry is relaunching spinning mills, particularly in France and Portugal. However, to continue to communicate the superior environmental characteristics of flax, it’s important to ensure that further cultivation continues to align with the fundamental criteria that have made the reputation of this fiber. Whereas cotton is being grown in areas that are sometimes less than suitable for its cultivation, flax will have to avoid making the same mistakes, and ensure responsible growth.

The excellence of European flax is measured by the Life Cycle Assessment of European Flax Scutched Fiber. It is traced throughout the value chain by the European Flax® certification, the guarantee of traceability of premium flax fiber grown in Western Europe for all its outlets and verified by the certification body Bureau Veritas. It is a plant fiber that comes from environmentally friendly agriculture, without irrigation or GMOs.

This traceability is labeled Masters of Linen® when it is ensured by European textile companies, on European and Euromed 1 sites. The guarantee of a plant-based, sustainable and local textile at every stage: from the European Flax® fiber, to the yarn and fabric.

*Source CELC
**Source: Textile Exchange

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