The Technical Center

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Industry Resource for Specialty Textiles and Product Information
   July 22, 2017  Facebook Twitter

 

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Environmental Textile Glossary

The terms in this Glossary define the global "Green" movement. From the cotton fields to the laboratories, to the retail sales floor, this Glossary is a window into the complexities with which to view the environmental footprints we leave and the social responsibilities these footprints represent. Developed by the California Fashion Association, an organization of manufacturers, contractors, suppliers, educational institutions, and other allied associations that provide a collective voice promoting the "Created in California" image; the continued growth of California’s Textile & Apparel Industry; and providing a competitive advantage for its members.

Click on a letter to jump to your alpha choice.

A
Ahimsa silk - An alternative, non-harmful method of producing silk. Silk is woven by making use of empty cocoons rather than harvesting live moth pupae. Cultivated on forest trees, the silk is spun after the silkworm metamorphoses into a moth and flies away leaving its cocoon. This type of silk derives its name from the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain doctrine of peace and non-violence.
  Asbestos - A mineral with long, thin fibrous crystals. It is a toxic substance known to cause serious illnesses, including malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. Because it is soft, pliant and able to withstand heat, it can be woven into fabrics to improve flame-retardant and insulating properties. While its use is banned in many countries, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency still allows many consumer products to contain trace amounts of asbestos.
  Azurite - This is a very popular mineral because of its unparalleled color, a deep blue called "azure", hence its name. Azure is derived from the Arabic word for blue. It is used in jewelry and in mineral dyes. See also "Mineral Dyes".
 
B
Bamboo Fabric - A natural textile made from the pulp of bamboo grass, it is considered sustainable, because the bamboo plant grows quickly and does not require the use of herbicides and pesticides to thrive. However, bamboo fiber is produced through the cellulosic process. Bamboo fabric retains many of the same qualities it has as a plant, including excellent wicking ability that pulls moisture away from the skin. It also retains antibacterial qualities, reducing bacteria that often thrives on clothing, which causes unpleasant odors.
  Bast fiber - A natural fiber collected from the inner bark surrounding the stem of certain dicotyledonic plants. Most bast fibers are obtained from herbs cultivated in agriculture, including flax, Jute, hemp and ramie, but can include wild plants as well. Fibers typically have higher tensil strength than others kinds and are therefore used for textiles like ropes, yarn, paper, composite materials and burlap. While labor intensive, its production is considered more eco-friendly than the production of artificial fibers which are petroleum based.
  Biological Agricultur Systems in Cotton (BASIC) - A program developed by the Sustainable Cotton Project to help cotton growers in California develop a working knowledge of chemical reduction techniques that can be successfully and economically applied. BASIC offers strategies to save the grower money by reducing the need for insecticides, miticides, chemical fertilizers and water.
  Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship - A membership-based research organization founded in 1985. They are involved in helping businesses leverage their social, economic, and human assets to ensure success and sustainable poliicies. Most recently, they collaborated with the Reputation Institute in ranking the U.S.'s top 50 companies.
  Brand Neutral, Inc. - A Los Angeles-based company that creates innovative environmental strategies to help businesses drive profits and cut costs to better the planet. Their team of experts identifies new opportunities, strengthen brands, and design ROI-driven energy management strategies that serve to give their clients financial success. The company believes that they strengthen their clients’ competitive advantage by extending branded offerings to customers.
  Brazilwood - A Brazilian timber tree that has dense, orange-red heartwood. It is the premier wood used for making bows for string instruments for the violin family. The wood also yields a natural red dye called brazilin. See also "Natural Dyes".
  Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) - A project launched in November 2008 by the sustainability organization, Ceres. BICEP offers an arena for business involvement to advance climate and energy policies created to counter the far-reaching risks and challenges posed by global climate change. BICEP members firmly believe that a vibrant economy requires the certainty derived from effective and meaningful climate change regulation, and ensures public investment in renewable technologies and environmentally sustainable jobs. BICEP members incldue Nike, Levi Strauss & Co., Timberland, Sun Microsystems, and Starbucks.
 
C
Cap and Trade - A system through which a central body sets a cap on the amount of pollutants that can be emitted. Abiding companies or nations therefore have allowances (credits) representing the right to emit a certain amount up to the predetermined cap. If a company exceeds their allowance, they must purchase credits from companies emitting less; this is referred to as a trade. See also "Emissions Trading".
  Carbon Emmissions Trading - It is a method by which countries can meet their obligations under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce carbon emissions and reduce global warming; specifically for the emission of carbon dioxide, which currently makes up the bulk of emissions trading.
  Carbon Footprint - A measure of the impact that human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gasses produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide.
  Carbon neutral - A product or process that does not add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, over its life cycle.
  Catechu - An extract of any of several species of Acacia (a type of shrubs and trees) produced by boiling the wood in water and evaporating the resulting brew. It occurs in a deep brown to black color. See also Natural dyes.
  Cellulose - A common material of plant cell walls that naturally occurs in cotton fiber, and found in all plant material, including wood, leaves, and stalks. It is a major constituent of paper and cardboard and of textiles made from cotton, linen, other plant fibers. Acetate, lyocell and rayon are also considered cellulosic fibers because their components a made from part natural cellulose and part chemical products.
  Ceres - A national network of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups that works with companies and investors to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change. Its mission is to integrate sustainability into capital market for the health of the planet and its people.
  Cinnabar - The principal ore of mercury and is essential to many scientific instruments such as blood pressure manometers, thermometers, and weather instrumentation. The color ranges from a bright scarlet or cinnamon red to brick red. See also Mineral Dyes.
  Clean Development Mechanism - A flexible mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol that allows industrialized nations with a greenhouse gas reduction commitment to invest in projects to reduce emissions in developing countries as an alternative to more expensive emission reductions in their own countries.
  Cleaner Cotton™ - A name given to "California-grown Cleaner Cotton", which uses up to 73 percent fewer chemicals than conventional cotton, and directly benefits the local environment.
  Cleaner Cotton™ Campaign - Part of the Sustainable Cotton Project, this campaign helps manufacturers develop strategies to incorporate Cleaner Cotton™ and organic cotton fibers into existing products.
  Clothing Miles - The distance that clothing and its various components travel from the field, to the factory, to the consumers’ wardrobe. As most clothing and components are manufactured overseas, transportation over such large distances produces considerable carbon emissions.
  Cochineal - This refers to both the insect of the same name and the crimson (red) dye derived from it. The insects are harvested for dye in a number of ways, each producing a different color.
  Cocona® Fabric - Fabric created from patented technologies where recycled coconut shells are heated at high temperatures to activate carbon, that is then infused into fibers like cotton, polyester or nylon. This blend can then be used to create various garments, including shirts, pants, jackets, etc. The material has been known to provide evaporative cooling, odor resistance and UV protection; all while using environmentally friendly technologies.
  Coir Fiber - A coarse fiber extracted from the fibrous outer shell of a coconut. Brown coir is harvested from fully ripened coconuts. It is thick, strong and has high abrasion resistance; it is typically used in floor mats and doormats, brushes, mattresses, floor tiles and sacking. White coir fibers are harvested from the coconuts before they are ripe. These fibers are white or light brown in color and are smoother and finer, but also weaker. They are generally spun to make yarn that is used in mats or rope. See also "Natural vegetable fibers".
  Color Removal & Enzymes - The process of color removal and abrasion with enzymes seen as a more environmentally acceptable alternative to bleaching and stonewashing. Introduced into the market in the 1980s, recent advances in this technology have increased the number of shades achievable via enzyme treatment. There is no risk of over-bleaching with only a minimal level of fiber strength loss.
  Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) - An independent U.S. federal regulatory agency created in 1972 to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injuries and deaths associated with consumer products.
  Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) - This bill, signed into law in August 2008, establishes consumer product safety standards and other safety requirements for children’s products. It will serve to modernize and reauthorize the Consumer Product Safety Commission by boosting funding to $136 million by 2014 and increasing staff. The legislation will increase consumer access to information about hazardous products while encouraging information sharing among local and federal agencies; it will also require the CPSC to create a publicly accessible database of harms related to the use of consumer products that are reported by consumers, government agencies, health care professionals, and other non-governmental sources.
  Corn Fiber - A biodegradable synthetic fiber produced with the lactic acid obtained through cornstarch fermentation. It is an entirely new type of synthetic fiber derived from plants instead of petroleum. See also "Ingeo®" and "Sorona®".
  Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) - A concept whereby organizations consider the interests of society by taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, communities and other stakeholders, as well as the environment. This obligation is seen to extend beyond the statutory obligation to comply with legislation and sees organizations voluntarily taking further steps to improve the quality of life for employees and their families as well as for the local community and society at large.
  Corporate Social Responsibility Index (CSRI) - A ranking of the top 50 companies in the United States distinguished by the general public for their corporate social responsibility. Results were compiled by the Boston College for Corporate Citizenship and Reputation Institute (RI), and were based on results from RI’s Global Pulse Study.
  Cotton - A shrub native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the Americas, India and Africa. It is a fiber most often spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile, that is the most widely used natural-fiber cloth in clothing today.
 
E
Earth Pledge - Founded in 1991 in New York City, Earth Pledge Foundation collaborates with government, businesses, and communities to advance the adoption of sustainable practices. FutureFashion, one of several company initiatives, serves to demonstrate that fashion can be sustainable. They are currently working with industry and the public to promote the use of renewable, reusable, and non-polluting materials and methods.
  Eco - Of or relating to habitat or household, mostly used as a prefix related to ecology. Eco comes from the ancient Greek word "oikos" (house). e.g. eco-label, eco-friendly, eco-shopping. Within the textile industry, "eco" refers to fibers/fabrics that are sustainable or friendly to the environment.
  Eco-friendly - A term used to describe services and goods that cause very little, if any, harm to the environment.
  Eco-Gift Festival - An annual event held in December in Los Angeles that produces a large-scale environmentally-friendly gifts that provide consumers an uplifting alternative to the regular inconveniences and waste of holiday shopping. A portion of the proceeds from the show is typically donated to at least one non-profit organization that addresses current environmental issues.
  Emissions Trading - A proposed administrative approach designed to reduce pollution by providing economic incentives for reductions in the emission of pollutants. A government or international body will set a limit on amount of a pollutant that can be emitted. Companies or nations are issued emission permits which dictate a specified allowance for the amount of pollutants they are allowed to emit. Upon exceeding their allowance, companies may purchase credits from companies that pollute less, thereby rewarding those with excess allowances. See also "Cap and Trade".
  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - An agency of the U.S government established in 1970 that serves to protect human health while safeguarding the natural environment: air, water and land. The agency conducts environmental assessments, research, and education. It has the primary responsibility for setting and enforcing national standards under a variety of environmental laws, in consultation with various levels of government. The agency also works with industries in a wide variety of voluntary pollution prevention programs and energy conservation efforts.
  Enzymes - Proteins that act as a catalyst and control the various steps in all chemical reactions.
  Ethical consumerism - Involves purchasing products and/or services that are made ethically. This typically means that there is minimal harm to or exploitation of humans, animals, and the natural environment. It is practiced through positive buying, when ethical products are favored over those that are not. This type of consumerism has led to a rise in green brands, which has increased interest in ethic-based decisions in the mass market, including more understanding and information about business practices.
 
F
Fair Trade - An organized social movement and market-based approach to empowering developing country producers and promoting sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a fair price as well as placing social and environmental standards in areas related to the production of a wide variety of goods.
  Fair Trade Cotton - Cotton produced by suppliers who are guaranteed a fair price for their organically produced goods, and whose production process meets stringent, internationally established labor standards.
  Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO) - A non-profit, multi-stakeholder association involving 23 member organizations, traders and external experts. The organization develops and reviews Fairtrade standards and provides support to Fairtrade Certified Producers by assisting them in gaining and maintaining Fairtrade certification and capitalizing on market opportunities.
  Flax - A natural vegetable fiber that is soft, lustrous, and flexible. It is stronger than cotton fiber but less elastic. The best grades are used for linen fabrics, such as damasks, lace, and sheeting while coarser grades are used to manufacture twine and rope.
  Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) - Created in 1993 and headquartered in Bonn, Germany, the FSC is a non-profit, independent organization dedicated to encouraging the responsible handling of the forests in the world.
  Free Trade Area (FTA) - A designated group of countries that have agreed to eliminate tariffs, quotas, and preferences on most goods and services between them. Members of a free trade area do not have the same policies with respect to non-members, which results in different quotas and customs. As an example, the United States is currently involved in a free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, known as NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement).
  Fustic - Refers to a type of tree common in either India and Africa, or Europe and Asia; the former is known as “Old Fustic” and produces a yellow dye. The latter is known as “Young Fustic” which creates a brown dye. See also "Natural Dyes".
  FutureFashion - An initiative of Earth Pledge, FutureFashion helps the fashion and home furnishing industries make the transition to sustainable materials. The initiative provides guidance to designers, manufacturers and distributors to help them transition to sustainable materials and methods.
 
G
Geothermal Power - Energy that is generated by heat stored in the earth, or the collection of absorbed heat derived from within the earth, in the atmosphere, and from the oceans. Currently, the U.S. produces the greatest amount of geothermal energy in the world. As a renewable energy source, it is extremely price competitive and reduces the reliance on fossil fuels and their price unpredictability.
  Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) - Launched by representatives of organic cotton producers, the textile industry, and consumers in 2002, GOTS was instituted in order to unify organic standards within the industry, allowing manufacturers to market their products to different countries under a single certification that is acceptable in all major markets of the world. Prior to the launch of GOTS, numerous standards existed in the niche market of organic textiles, causing confusion among producers, retailers and consumers.
  Global Pulse Study - Conducted by the Reputation Institute, it is the largest study of corporate reputation in the world, annually measuring over 1,000 companies in 27 countries. It is intended to identify the companies with the “best corporate reputations”. In 2008, more than 200 U.S. companies were measured.
  Green Brands - Brands that consumers associate with environmental conservation and sustainable business practices. Typically when marketing a ‘green’ product, companies will use environmentally friendly, recycled and/or recyclable material, or reduce excess packaging.
  Green Living Lifestyle, Inc. - Located in Beverly Hills, California, this company provides green living and lifestyle solutions for both home and work environments. Their experts make planet friendly services and products accessible to the consumer. Comprehensive services range from finding the perfect non-toxic and environmentally friendly cleaning solution for a client with allergies, to project managing the construction of a healthy and energy efficient home or office, as well as implementing a green program for an entire corporation, production or event.
  Greenhouse Effect - Caused when greenhouse gases trap radiation released by the Earth’s surface, raising the temperature of the Earth’s lower atmosphere and surface. It is a natural process that regulates the temperature of the Earth. In the last 200 years, humans have released much higher quantities of greenhouse gases (both natural and man-made), which is trapping more heat in the atmosphere and cited as the main driver of global warming.
  Greenhouse Gases - Gases in the atmosphere that trap infrared heat energy trying to escape into outside the earth’s atmosphere. This process raises the temperature of the lower atmosphere and the Earth’s surface in contact with it. Natural greenhouse gases include water vapor (moisture), carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone. New man-made chemicals that are being released into the atmosphere include CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) and HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons).
  Greenopia - A Los Angeles service guide to green living. Their mission is to create a directory of eco-friendly retailers, services, and organizations. Not a paid directory, they have conducted extensive research on those listed in their guide. Companies cannot pay to be included and all those listed are included because they have meet Greenopia’s strict standards for eco-friendliness.
 
H
Hemp - A course fiber made from the inner bark (bast fiber) of the hemp plant used primarily in twines and cordages, and most recently apparel. Grown naturally without pesticides, it is one of the strongest sustainable fibers and is excellent for moisture absorption, anti-bacterial properties and ventilation. Hemp is popular for macramé jewelry, cloth and diapers. Growing hemp in the United States is legal, but producers are required to obtain a special permit through the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
  Hydrophilic - Having a strong affinity for water; attracting, dissolving in or absorbing water.
  Hydrophobic - Lacking the ability to absorb water. Denote a finish normally applied to create water-repellent products.
 
I
Indigo - A dye with a distinctive blue color. The chemical compound that constitutes the indigo dye is called indigotin. Historically, indigo played an important role in many countries' economies because natural blue dyes are rare. Among other uses, it is used in the production of denim cloth for blue jeans.
  Ingeo® - This PLA fiber, developed by NatureWorks LLC, is a polymer fiber made with 100% annually renewable resources, such as corn. Fabrics, made with Ingeo, look and feel like those made from a natural fiber. But they have the performance qualities of a synthetic. The properties, inherent in the fiber, remain constant throughout the production cycle, whether the use is for the raw fiber or finished product.
 
J
Joint Implementation - A flexibility mechanism set forth in the Kyoto Protocol that helps nations meet their greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. It allows industrialized nations to invest in emissions reduction projects in other industrialized nations as an alternative to reducing emissions domestically.
  Jute - A vegetable fiber produced primarily from the plant material cellulose and wood fiber lignin (partially textile and partially wood). It is 100% bio-degradable and one of the cheapest fibers. It is the second-most important vegetable fiber, after cotton, in terms of usage and availability. Off-white to brown in color, it accepts cellulosic dyes.
 
K
Kenaf - A plant native to south Asia that has similar properties to jute. The stems produce two types of fiber, a coarser fiber in the outer layer (bast fiber), and a finer fiber in the core. The main uses of kenaf fiber have been rope, twine, coarse cloth (similar to that made from jute), and paper. See also "Natural Vegetable Fibers".
  Kumazasa Herb - This Japanese herb used to make a Japanese paper fiber that is completely natural, highly renewable without the use of chemicals, and does not require chemicals to process. It is used in the production of Sasawashi fabric. See also "Sasawashi".
  Kyoto Protocol - An international environmental treaty intended to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. It establishes legally binding commitments for the reduction of six greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons, and perfluorocarbons) produced by industrialized nations. Under the protocol, the nations have agreed to reduce their collective greenhouse gas emissions. There are “flexible mechanisms” that allow member economies to meet their emissions requirements, including Emissions Trading, the Clean Development Mechanism, and Joint Implementation. As of 2008, the United States has not yet ratified Kyoto Protocol stating that it is “fundamentally flawed” and “not the correct vehicle with which to produce real environmental solutions”. Since withdrawing from the protocol, the U.S. government has established separate environmental initiatives to address global climate change.
 
L
Lac - Once used as a natural dye, this is a resinous substance secreted by the lac insect onto the twigs and branches of certain trees (typically fig). The dye is similar to cochineal and is commonly used in southeast Asia as a skin cosmetic and dye for silk and wool.
  Landfill - This is a site for the disposal of waste materials by burial and is the oldest form of waste treatment. Historically, landfills have been the most common methods of organized waste disposal and remain so in many places around the world.
  Laser technology - A textile treatment using laser machines to achieve a detailing or all-over effect in finishing a fabric, typically denim. The frequency of the laser is set to erode the indigo surface and alter the color or burn through. Exclusively used in the upper end of the denim market, laser technology is considered a more environmentally acceptable process than traditional denim finishing methods.
  Lead - A soft, malleable heavy metal used in building construction, batteries, bullets, weights, and various other industrial materials. It has been commonly used because it is widespread, easy to extract and easy to work with. Also a potent neurotoxin, studies indicate that it can accumulate in soft tissues and bone over time.
  Limestone - A sedimentary rock composed mostly of the mineral calcite and comprising about 15% of the Earth's sedimentary crust; can occur in many colors but is usually white, gray, or black. See also "Mineral Dyes".
  Linen - A textile made from the fibers of the flax plant. It is labor intensive to manufacture, but when it is made into garments, it is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather. Linen fabric is highly absorbent and a good conductor of heat, yet it remains cool to the touch. It is also the strongest of the vegetable fibers, with 2 to 3 times the strength of cotton. See also "Natural Vegetable Fibers".
  Logwood - Logwood is the English name of both the dye and the tree from whose heartwood the dye comes. Preparation requires that the heartwood first be well cleaned of the surrounding sapwood and bark. Then it must be rasped or planed into shavings, which are "aged" through a mild fermentation process. The rich, dark wood is then dried and packaged to avoid deterioration by moisture. Typically, the dye colors can be violet, purple, silver, grey, or black.
  Low-Impact Dyes - Dyes that bond chemically to fibers for stronger color fastness over conventional dyes. The dyeing process uses less water and generates less wastewater runoff and contamination.
  Lyocell Fiber - This fiber is made from the wood pulp cellulose of such hardwood trees as birch, oak, or eucalyptus, and is typically classified as a fiber cousin to rayon. Lyocell shares many properties with other cellulosic fibers such as cotton, linen, ramie and rayon. Some main characteristics of lyocell fibers are that it is soft, absorbent, very strong when wet or dry, and resistant to wrinkles; it can be machine- or hand-washed or drycleaned, it drapes well, and it can be dyed many colors, as well as simulating a variety of textures like suede, leather, or silk. In the United States, it is manufactured by Lenzing, Inc. and marketed under the trademarked brand name Tencel®.
 
M
Madder - A type of plant known for its climbing herbs and shrubs native to Africa, temperate Asia and North America. It has been used since ancient times as a vegetable red dye for leather, wool, cotton and silk. For dye production, the roots are harvested in the first year. The outer brown layer gives the common variety of the dye, the lower yellow layer the refined variety. See also "Natural Dyes".
  Malachite - This very popular semi-precious stone is named for the Greek word for "mallow", a green herb. The color is dark green. See also "Mineral Dyes".
  Manganese - Manganese is a gray-white metal, resembling iron. It is hard and very brittle. The color is a metallic silver to black. See also "Mineral Dyes".
  Manila - A type of fiber obtained from the leaves of the abacá, a relative of the banana. It is mostly used for pulping for a range of uses, including specialty papers and once used mainly to make Manila rope. Manila envelopes and Manila papers take their name from this fiber. See also "Natural Vegetable Fibers".
  Mineral Dyes - A natural dyestuff made from minerals, including ocher, limestone, manganese, cinnabar, azurite, and malachite.
  Mordant - A substance that fixes a dye in and on textiles or leather by combining with the dye to form a stable insoluble compound.
  Munjeet - A dye obtained from the roots of an herb plant grown in India; it is also known as Indian Madder. It produces a range of colors, from brick red to bright orange, and burgundy. See also "Natural Dyes".
 
N
Natural Dyes - Dyes that are made from mineral, vegetable (plant) or animal; otherwise obtained from natural sources. The most common types include Indigo, Cochineal, Lac, Logwood, Madder, Munjeet, Catechu, Brazilwood, Osage Orange, Fustic, Weld, Tannin, and Quercitron.
  Natural Enzymes - Biomolecules created freely in nature that spark chemical reactions. Whether they occur naturally in a dye or are added to a solution, they allow the dye to strongly bind to a mordanted fiber.
  Natural Vegetable Fibers - These are normally comprised of cellulose and include the following: Bamboo, Coir, Cotton, Flax, Hemp, Jute, Kenaf, Linen, Manila, Pina, Raffia, Ramie, and Sisal.
  Nettle - A sustainable and organic fiber derived from a coarse, wild herb. It is naturally moth-repellant.
  North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) - A trilateral trade bloc between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The agreement was signed in 1992 by the leaders of these countries and came into effect in 1994.
 
O
Ochre - Any of several earthy mineral oxides of iron occurring in yellow, brown, or red and used as pigments. See also "Mineral Dyes".
  Organic - Products that are grown or raised without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or hormones.
  Organic Cotton - Cotton that is grown without pesticides from plants that are not genetically modified using crop rotation and biological pest control instead of pesticides and artificial fertilizers.
  Organic Cotton Exchange - A charitable organization committed to expanding organic agriculture, with a specific focus on increasing the production and use of organically grown fibers such as cotton. To support this goal, they bring together brands and retailers with their business partners, farmers and key shareholders to learn about the social and environmental benefits of organic agriculture and to develop new business models and tools that support greater use of organic inputs. In addition, they raise consumer awareness about the value of organic farming and the availability of products containing organic cotton.
  Organic Linen - An extremely durable sustainable fiber that is made from the flax plant and grown without herbicides or pesticides.
  Osage Orange - A large shrub native to central and southeastern United States, The roots and inner bark produce colors ranging from bright yellows to khaki green. See also "Natural Dyes".
  Ozone Bleaching - An alternative bleaching process used for finishing in denim manufacturing. It is environmentally acceptable because it does not use harmful chemicals, requires a low quantity of water, and bleaching is achieved in a relatively short amount of time at room temperature.
 
P
Palm Oil - An edible plant oil derived from the fruit of the Arecaceae Elaeis oil palm; it has surpassed soybean oil as the most widely produced vegetable oil in the world. Palm oil production is a basic source of income for many of the world's rural poor in South East Asia, Central and West Africa, and Central America; many social initiatives use profits from palm oil to finance poverty alleviation strategies. This rising demand for palm oil has resulted in tropical forest being cleared to establish new palm plantations. There is growing concern that this will be harmful to the environment in many ways, including significant greenhouse gas emissions, habitat destruction of endangered species, and eventual extinction of such species.
  Petrochemicals - Chemicals made from petroleum, coal and/or natural gas. First synthesized in the mid-1800s, scientists created chemicals that could be substituted for natural products. Today, many common household and industrial products are derived from petrochemicals, including plastics, soaps, detergents, drugs, pesticides, aspirin, furniture, and apparel.
  Phthalates - These chemicals are salts or esters of phthalic acid. The esters are commonly used as plasticizers to soften polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and increase the flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity of plastic products. However, when ingested, phthalates can cause kidney and liver damage. Due to these health concerns, phthalates are now being phased out of many products in the United States, Canada, and the European Union.
  Piña - A fiber made from the leaves of a pineapple and is commonly used in the Philippines. It is sometimes combined with silk or polyester to create a textile fabric. The end fabric is lightweight, easy to care for and has an elegant appearance similar to linen. See also "Natural Vegetable Fibers".
  Polarfleece® - Sustainable fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. First marketed in 1993 by Polartec® through Patagonia, a U.S. apparel manufacturer that specializes in outdoor wear and gear. See also "Synchilla".
  Polyester - A manufactured fiber introduced in the early 1950s, and is the most commonly used manufactured fiber worldwide. The fiber-forming substance in polyester is any longchain, synthetic polymer composed of at least 85% by weight of an ester of dihydric alcohol and terephthalic acid. Polyester has high strength (although somewhat lower than nylon), excellent resiliency, has high abrasion resistance, and resists shrinking, stretching and wrinkles. Polyester's low absorbency allows the fiber to dry quickly. Polyester fabrics are used in apparel and home furnishings (i.e. bedspreads, bedsheets, draperies and curtains). Industrial polyesters are used in ropes, tire reinforcements, safety belts, and plastics. Polyester fiberfill is used as stuffing in cushions, comforters, and pillows.
  Polyester - The most commonly used man-made fiber in the world. Woven polyester fabrics are used in consumer apparel and home furnishings such as bedspreads, bedsheets, draperies and curtains. Industrial polyesters are used in ropes, tyre reinforcements, safety belts, and plastic reinforcements with high energy absorption. Polyester fiberfills are used as stuffers in cushion padding, comforters, and pillows.
  Polylactic Acid (PLA) Fiber - A synthetic substance produced from the fermentation of plant sugars derived primarily from corn, which is then made into a fiber. Lightweight, hypoallergenic, and providing more UV protection than polyester, it uses about half the energy required to manufacture other synthetic polymers and is biodegradable. Downside: growing just one acre of corn uses enough water to run a household dishwasher over 30,000 times. See also "Corn Fiber".
  Positive Buying - This involves favoring ethical products, whether it involves fair trade, cruelty-free products, organic, recycled, re-used, or produced locally.
 
Q
Quercitron - A yellow dye obtained from the bark of the Eastern Black Oak, a forest tree indigenous in North America. The dye is prepared by grinding the bark in mills after it has been freed from its black outer layer and sifting the product to remove the fibrous matter, producing a fine yellow powder. See also "Natural Dyes".
 
R
Raffia - A type of palm that is native to tropical regions of Africa and parts of Central and South America. The fiber is used for ropes, sticks, supporting beams and various roof coverings are made out of its fibrous branches and leaves. The membrane on the underside of each individual frond leaf is taken off to create a long thin fiber which can be dyed and used for decorative ribbon for gift-wrapping, or woven as a textile into products ranging from hats to shoes to decorative mats. See also "Natural Vegetable Fibers".
  Ramie - A sustainable bast fiber, similar to flax, taken from the stalk of a plant grown in East Asia and China. It’s three to five times stronger than cotton, extremely absorbent, and dries quickly. It is often mistaken for linen.
  Raw Material - A natural unprocessed material used in a manufacturing process; defined as “unfinished goods consumed by a manufacturer in the production of finished goods”.
  Rayon - This manufactured regenerated cellulosic fiber is derived from the wood pulp of such trees as pine, spruce, or hemlock. It is considered a semi-synthetic fiber since it contains both man-made and naturally occurring materials. Rayon is a very versatile fiber and has the same comfort properties as natural fibers. It can imitate the feel and texture of silk, wool, cotton and linen. The fibers are easily dyed in a wide range of colors. Rayon fabrics are soft, smooth, cool, comfortable, and highly absorbent, but they do not insulate body heat, making them ideal for use in hot and humid climates. It’s known for its high luster quality and is typically used in apparel, furnishings and other industrial/household goods. See also "Synthetic Fibers".
  Reclaimed Fabrics - To return to or bring into an acceptable condition for re-use. These fabrics are basically made from spinning room floor waste that is made into mop yarns or has other low-end industrial uses.
  Recyclable - Any material that can be made into a new product.
  Recycled - Any material from a previous product that has been reprocessed into a new product. Sources for recycling include any reclaimed material that would otherwise be discarded. Recycled production prevents useful materials resources from being wasted and reduces consumption of raw materials.
  Recycled polyester - Polyester that has been manufactured by using previously used polyester items; it can be created from used clothing as well as recycled plastic containers.
  Renewable Energy - Energy generated from natural resources, including sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat, all of which are renewable and easily replenished.
  Reprocess - To process again in order to reuse.
  Reputation Institute - A private advisory and research firm specializing in corporate reputation management founded in 1997 in New York. They provide knowledge-based consulting services to companies interested in measuring and managing their reputations proactively. Since 2005, they have been responsible for conducting the Global Pulse Study.
 
S
Saran - The trade name for a number of polymers that share similarities to vinyl. The main advantage of Saran film is a very low permeability to water vapor, flavor and aroma molecules, and oxygen compared to other plastics. The barrier to oxygen prevents food spoilage, and the barrier to flavor and aroma molecules helps food retain its flavor and aroma.
  Sasawashi - A sustainable fabric that is derived from a blend of Japanese paper and kumazasa herb. Saswashi is a beautiful fabric that has a soft touch similar to cashmere or Egyptian cotton, but is has a dry feel like linen. It does not pill or fuzz, and is twice as absorbent as cotton. It is said to have natural anti-allergen and anti-bacterial properties.
  Silk - A natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from cocoons made by the larvae of the mulberry. This process kills the larvae and is heavily criticized by animal rights activists. "Wild silks" are produced by caterpillars other than the mulberry silkworm and cannot be artificially cultivated.
  Sisal - A cactus plant that yields a stiff fiber traditionally used in making twine and rope. The plant originated in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, but has spread to Florida, the Caribbean islands and Brazil, as well as to countries in Africa and Asia. See also "Natural Vegetable Fibers".
  SOEX, Inc. - A corporate group that implements recycling of textile merchandise with the used textiles as raw material imput, producing an output which consists of products for insulation and other industrial products.
  Sorona® - The latest fiber-grade polymer innovation from DuPont, which offers a three-part environmental story. Made with renewable resources instead of petrochemicals, Sorona® requires 40% less energy to produce than an equal amount of petrochemical-based nylon. Producing Sorona® reduces CO2 emmissions up to 60% over an equal amount of petroleum-based nylon. See also "Corn Fiber" and "Polylactic Acid (PLA Fiber)".
  Soy Cotton - Soy fibers blended with cotton to create a textile that has the benefits of both fabrics and can be colored using low impact dyes. With a very soft hand, it is a popular choice for baby clothes.
  Soy Ink - A non-petroleum based ink made from soybeans; non-toxic and biodegradable; environmentally friendlier than traditional petroleum based ink.
  Soybean Fiber - Also known as “vegetable cashmere”, soybean fiber is a sustainable textile fiber made from the residue of soybeans from tofu production. It is part of an effort to move consumers away from petrochemical textile products and turn waste into useful products. Soybean fiber has superior warmth retention, moisture transmission and bacterial resistance; it is also soft, smooth, and light. With a cashmere-like texture, it has a silky luster and the same moisture absorption as cotton. It is typically used for underwear, socks, scarves, sheets, and yoga/exercise apparel.
  Sustainable Cotton Project - This project focuses on the production and use of cotton. Because it is the most widely grown and chemical-intensive crops in the world, along with being versatile enough for foods and fiber products, it is one of the most widely traded commodities in the world. The production of a basic t-shirt can therefore take a toll on the earth’s air, water, and soil; thus the Sustainable Cotton Project encourages the production and demand for California-grown Cleaner Cotton™.
  Sustainable Fashion - Also known as “ethical fashion”, “eco fashion” or “green fashion”, sustainable fashion is a part of the sustainable design trend where a product is created and produced with the consideration of its total life span and the impact that the product may have on the planet. They are clothes that consider the environment, the health of consumers and the working conditions of people in the fashion industry.
  Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) - Organized in 1994 by members of the American Forest and Paper Association, the SFI focuses on combining sound business decisions with responsible environmental behavior. The program certifies forests to insure they are being managed in a sustainable manner. With forest certification, an independent organization develops standards of good forest management, and independent auditors issue certificates to forest operations that comply with those standards. This certification verifies that forests are well-managed—as defined by a particular standard—and ensures that certain wood and paper products come from responsibly managed forests.
  Sustainable Material - Any material that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. In so doing, the way that these materials are harvested or used assures that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged. The resource can therefore continue indefinitely without a significant negative impact on the environment or its inhabitants.
  Synchilla® - Produced by Polartec®, a leading supplier of fleece, this fabric is made from recycled plastic soda bottles, and yarn scraps and cuttings from fabric production. Commonly marketed as “pop bottle” fabric, Patagonia (a U.S. retailer of outdoor clothing and gear) began incorporating this fabric into their fleece products. The fabric is made of 100% polyester, 85% of which consists of recycled polyester.
  Synthetic Enzymes - Man-made biomolecules that spark chemical reactions.
  Synthetic Fibers - Manufactured fibers that attempt to improve upon naturally occurring plant and animal fibers. Before synthetic fibers were developed, artificially manufactured fibers were made from cellulose, which is derived from plants. Common synthetic fibers include rayon, acetate, nylon, acrylic and polyester. Specialty synthetic fibers include Lyocell and PLA.
 
T
Tannin - A bitter, astringent plant derivative that is commonly used to tan animal hides into leather. Tannins produce different colors, including either blue, blue black, or green to greenish black. See also "Natural Dyes".
  Tencel® - Lenzing Fibers trademarked name for its lyocell fiber. See also "Lyocell Fiber".
 
V
Vegetable Dye - Dyes derived from insects or from the earth, including dyes made from plants and bark, which includes madder root, indigo, milkweed, pomegranate, Osage, cutch and cochineal. These also include natural dyes produced from berries, roots and bark. They are not as colorfast as chrome dyes and produce unusual shades of blue, green and other colors. They contain no synthetic chemicals and, due to their natural ingredients, tend to fade faster than chrome dyes.
  Vinyon - A synthetic fiber polymer made from polyvinyl chloride. In some countries other than the United States, vinyon fibers are referred to as polyvinyl chloride fibers and is similar in nature to vinyl. It can bind non-woven fibers and fabrics. It was invented in 1939. See also Synthetic fibers.
 
W
Water-Based Products and Finishes - An environmentally-friendly alternative. These products and finishes are nonflammable and odorless. They offer reduced exposure to toxic materials and help reduce environmental pollution. Water-based products are easy to clean and dry faster than other non-water-based products.
  Weld - A weeding plant that has been used as a source for a brilliant yellow dye. It was originally from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Mediterranean area, but has subsequently spread throughout Europe and parts of the United States. Weld is harvested by cutting and binding the flowering stalks together after the flowers are nearly finished blooming. Most of the dye is contained in the seeds. See also "Natural Dyes".
 
Z
Zylon - Developed in the 1980s in the United States, this synthetic product is used in a number of applications that require very high strength with excellent thermal stability. Tennis racquets, Table Tennis blades, various medical applications, and some of the Martian rovers are some of the more well known instances. See also "Synthetic Fibers".
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