A roundup of resources and insights into growth drivers in the eco-friendly sector
Although the “green” movement has been growing for more than a decade, what is different today is that the push for more sustainable products is not only from a small group of planet-minded activists. The demand is coming from mainstream consumers, many of whom are Millennials, concerned with the future of the planet and their well-being.
As Kermit the Frog used to sing, “It’s not easy being green.” Incorporating organic raw materials and/or energy efficient, water-saving and clean processes takes a great deal of time and money to accomplish.
But many of today’s manufacturing visionaries across the globe who were insightful enough to go down the environment-friendly path years ago are not only well-poised to meet the demand for sustainable products, but have developed the capacities to research and develop new materials, processes and treatments. Here, we examine the efforts of some of the top manufacturers and suppliers who are shaping the world of eco-friendly products.
Authenticity: Proving It
Since “eco-friendly” has a variety of meanings on different levels, the best way to gain the trust and confidence of retailers and consumers when it comes to proving a product line is environment friendly is to earn certification from an independent authority. Several home textiles companies have made great strides in establishing high standards for their production facilities and the materials they use.
Trident Limited has received the Sustainable Textile Production (STeP) certification, granted by OEKO-TEX® for its home textile plants in Dhaula, Punjab and Budhni, Madhya Pradesh in India. The certification covers weaving, dyeing and making-up processes for terry toweling and bed linen manufacturing facilities. The STeP certification also brings the Made in Green by OEKO-TEX® label to Trident, which is issued for textile products that have been tested against harmful substances and certified according to Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX®. Trident’s Home Textiles facilities underwent extensive assessment and auditing in line with certification mandates in areas including chemical, quality and environmental management, environmental performance, health and safety, and social responsibility.
Customers can now use Trident’s Made in Green by OEKO-TEX® product ID to label products at retail. The label’s product ID and optional QR code can enable consumers to trace the production of the product, while learning about textile sustainability and safety.
With sustainability a top priority for the company from its beginnings, Welspun is Made in Green by OEKO-TEX® for all its products.
During the N.Y. Home Fashions Market in March 2018, Welspun launched several patent-pending lines developed in response to a social listening study based on 4.5 million conversations pertaining to home textiles. The company reports that as part of the study, “organic” was the top key word under the health and wellness discussion among all conversations analyzed. Several individuals noted that they slept better on organic sheets and that using organic sheets made them feel better about their overall health.
Welspun’s new patent-pending, GOTS-certified organic offerings include: GoodRest™ organic sheets that offer wrinkle resistance without a chemical finish, Organic HygroCotton® towels that grow softer with each wash, and an organic HygroCotton® bath rug.
Breathe by Milliken fabrics have achieved GREENGUARD® GOLD certification. The collection’s fabrics are soft, durable, water and stain repellent, and easily cleaned. They are a sustainable option, designed and responsibly manufactured using natural or recycled fibers and a plant-based water repellent. Breathe by Milliken is the industry’s first fluorine-free performance fabrics line available in natural, cleanable cotton or synthetic fibers made from recycled plastic bottles diverted from landfills.
Premier Fine Linens’ Ecora 100 percent organic luxury bed linens are GOTS certified from cotton growing and harvesting through yarn spinning, fabric weaving and packaging. The company recycles almost everything, with its effluent treatment plant recovering and processing 98 percent of the water to insure zero discharge into the environment.
Premier Fine Linens’ Pure Naturals brand consumes 75 percent less water and 70 percent less energy with 85 percent less waste generation. The line is produced with “green” energy using windmills and is also 100 percent OEKO-TEX® certified. Pure Naturals cotton products contain no dyes or chemical additives and are offered in all thread counts and in sateen, percale, dobby and jacquard constructions.
Hamam, also headquartered in Turkey, produces Ecoluxe towels made with 100 percent organic cotton from the Aegean region of Turkey. The growing and manufacturing of the organic cotton fiber is regulated to insure no chemicals, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are used.
Saving Energy & Cutting Waste
Linum Home Textiles has invested heavily in environment friendly technologies. In addition to using 100 percent organic Turkish cotton for all of its products, its manufacturing facilities located in Turkey operate via 100 percent solar energy.
According to the company, the construction of large solar energy projects in Turkey is booming with support from the government. The cost of solar-powered plants has been significantly reduced over the past five years.
One major objective Linum Home Textiles shares with its country is resolving global warming and climate change through reducing carbon dioxide footprints in accordance with international climate change regulations. Linum Home Textiles has implemented these goals by installing clean-energy solar power plants on fields and factory roofs that avert natural gas consumption of up to 2.465.223 m3 annually. The solar power plants have also created the opportunity for the company to recover more than 28 million square meters, allowing Linum Home Textiles to replant more than 1 million trees.
Premier Fine Linens has developed the Beyond Organic line of cotton products that are made with no sizing or dyes and no added chemicals. The manufacturing process consumes only 12 percent of the water and 17 percent of the steam and energy that go into conventional processing, while producing 80 percent less waste. The Beyond Organic products are made with 100 percent “green” energy via windmills.
The Grund Company began in the 1990s, but established Grund America in Matthews, NC, in 2014. Michael Twer, vice-president/general manager, Grund America, explains, “The textile industry relies on cotton that has been heavily treated with pesticides, synthetic fabrics whose fibers are becoming ubiquitous in nature, and a plethora of hazardous chemicals used to dye products or make them softer, iron-free, anti-bacterial and more. We knew there was a way to make beautiful, high-quality products that offer consumers an alternative, so in 2014 we launched our company, providing consumers with a choice—our organic cotton bath rugs, sheets, throws and towels are made of organically grown cotton and are certified to the stringent Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which prohibits the use of toxic inputs during the processing stages and addresses care of our workers. In this way, our products are certified organic from field to home.”
Grund America is a member of both the Textile Exchange and the Organic Trade Association and its Fiber Council, of which Twer is chair.
Several years ago, products made with recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate, a form of polyester) bottles burst onto the scene, with marketers praising these efforts that rescued synthetic materials from landfills—at least temporarily. Today, companies also are using natural and organic scraps to create new products.
Ethicot Yarn-Dyed towels by Micro Cotton are made with 100 percent pre-consumer recycled cotton. The line is inspired by the concept of the “Perfectly Imperfect,” a design trend that marks a return to artisanal and handcrafted qualities in which unpredictable, unique characteristics are embraced. Ethicot Yarn Dyed towels offer quality and comfort, while bearing marks of their creation in a relaxed look.
Sharadha Terry Products Limited, maker of the Micro Cotton brand, is a pioneer in the field of eco-conscious products, which are manufactured in a completely ‘green’ process, from the raw materials to the energy used for manufacturing. The manufacturing facilities are in India’s largest cotton textile manufacturing center, where almost 70 percent of India’s spinning and weaving mills are located. “This gives us an edge in efficiently sourcing the pre-consumer cotton fiber waste for meeting any kind of volume requirement of eco-friendly recycled home linen products,” notes D. Vikram Krishna, director, Sharadha Terry Products Limited.
According to Lenzing, annually 80 percent of textiles purchased end up in landfills. So Lenzing has created Refibra™, a new generation of TENCEL™ fiber made with post-industrial cotton scraps left over from cutting operations as well as with wood. It reduces the need to extract and process new raw materials from nature, thus lowering the impact on the environment.
Created in the TENCEL™ production process, the Refibra brand of lyocell is the first cellulose fiber that features recycled material on a commercial scale. It possesses the same characteristics of TENCEL™: it is strong, smooth and gentle on the skin, and has good moisture absorbency and management.
To assure customers that the Refibra fiber is actually in the textiles, Lenzing has developed a new fiber identification system that guarantees transparency in the processing chain. The Refibra fiber is part of the global Lenzing Branding Service. The Refibra brand is licensed once the textile has undergone a certification process.
Welspun’s re-loved”™ line is a repurposed all-cotton bed and bath collection with the look of linen made with fabric scraps created during the manufacturing process.
“Higher standards, consumer awareness and increased availability are driving the organic textile market growth,” says Grund America’s Twer. “Ever more educated consumers growing up in a world where environmental and worker concerns are front-page news are proactively searching for organic products and will choose the organic product if it meets their design, quality and cost criteria.”
From the use of more natural and organic materials to increasingly eco-friendly production processes and packaging, the trend toward the creation of environment-friendly products is headed for growth. LDB
• Grund America, 866-Grund-Am, grundamerica.com
• Hamam, 646-590-3891, hamam.eu/en
• Lenzing, 212-944-7898, lenzing.com
• LINUM HOME TEXTILES, 855-933-0300, linumhometextiles.com
• Micro Cotton, +91 (4254) 223450, microcotton.com
• Milliken Specialty Interiors, Dan Baker, 630-908-7623, breathebymilliken.com, millikenspecialtyinteriors.com
• Premier Fine Linens, +91-422-2221223, premierfinelinens.com
• Syona Home LLC, 425-444-7239, syonahome.com
• Trident, 212-684-6342, tridentindia.com
• Welspun USA, 212-620-2000, welspun.com
Hotel Collection Towels From Trident
The Hotel Collection Quick-Dry Supima® cotton bath towel is made with highly absorbent, 100 percent certified Supima cotton. Available at Macy’s and on macys.com, it is finished with classic jacquard borders and is offered in cadet, claret, cobalt, persimmon, pewter, sable, sage and white.
Ethicot Towels From Micro Cotton
Ethicot Yarn-Dyed towels are inspired by the concept of the “Perfectly Imperfect,” a design trend that marks a return to artisanal and handcrafted qualities in which unpredictable and unique characteristics are embraced.
Eco-consciously sourced and crafted with 100 percent pre-consumer recycled cotton, Ethicot Yarn Dyed towels offer quality and comfort, while bearing marks and brushstrokes of their creation for a naturally relaxed look.
Alev Bathrobe From Linum Home Textiles
Linum Kids Alev 100 percent organic Turkish cotton Terry Stripe Hooded Unisex lightweight, absorbent bathrobe is for both boys and girls. The special woven construction provides cooling comfort with soft terry and flat-woven stripes. The robe includes two patch pockets and is finished off with white pique cloth trim on the body, hood and belt. The kids Alev robe is offered in small, medium and large sizes. An adult version is also available in small/medium and large/extra-large. This bathrobe is made in the company’s “green” factory in Turkey using one hundred percent solar energy.
Elegant Stripe Pestemal From Linum Home Textiles
The 72- by 36-inch Elegant Stripe pestemal beach towels, offered in blue multi and gray multi, are hand-woven with organic 100 percent Turkish cotton. Pestemals are known for softness and high absorbency. This multi-stripe design is lightweight, fast drying, eco-friendly and durable, with fringed ends that are securely hand
knotted. The pestemal can be used as a beach, picnic or travel blanket, a coverup, shawl, tablecloth, bed topper, sofa throw, chair cover and a bath, yoga, or pool towel. It is produced in the company’s “green” factory in Turkey, which runs on 100 percent solar energy.
Ecoluxe Towels From Hamam
Hamam’s Ecoluxe towels are made with 100 percent organic cotton from the Aegean region of Turkey. The growing and manufacturing of organic cotton fiber is regulated to insure no chemicals, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are used. Luxurious next to the skin, the towels are available in 450, 500, 550, 600, 650, 700 and 750 gr/m2 and in white, iron, athmophere, dark frost and misty rose colors.
Breathe Fabrics From Milliken
Breathe by Milliken fabrics are soft, but durable, water and stain repellent, and easily cleanable. They are a sustainable option, manufactured using natural or recycled fibers and a plant-based water repellent. Breathe by Milliken is the industry’s first fluorine-free performance fabrics available in natural, cleanable cotton or synthetic fibers made from recycled plastic bottles diverted from landfills. The collection has achieved GREENGUARD® GOLD certification.
Duvet Covers From Syona Home
The fair-trade certified duvet covers are made with GOTS-certified, 100 percent organic cotton and eco-friendly low-impact dyes. The soft covers offer a different look on each side: the front features wide banding and the back is pristine white. Six invisible button closures, made with coconut shells, and anchor strings on four inner inside corners keep the duvet in place.
Towels From Grund America
Grund America’s plush, absorbent, and GOTS-certified organic cotton towels are available in a range of hues.
Re-Loved From Welspun
During the N.Y. Home Fashions Market in March 2018, Welspun launched several lines that respond to consumers’ demand for organic and sustainable products. One of them is re-loved™, a repurposed all-cotton bed and bath collection (shown) with the look of linen that is made with fabric scraps created during the manufacturing process.
Eco-Friendly Brands From Premier Fine Linens
ECORA is the company line of 100 percent cotton luxury bed linens, GOTS-certified organic from farm to packaging. The Beyond Organic line is created with a process that uses no sizing, dyes or chemicals from the cotton through the finished product, and with significantly less water, steam and energy than is used in conventional processing. The OEKO-TEX® certified Pure Naturals brand is created with “green” energy using windmills and also consumes less water and generates less waste than conventional processing.
The Greatest Challenges
D. Vikram Krishna, director, Sharadha Terry Products Limited, maker of the Micro Cotton brand:
“Truly eco-conscious products need to have a ‘green’ footprint through their entire life cycle from cradle to grave. Most certifications look at only the fiber stage of the life cycle, which accounts for only a small part of its footprint. In our current age, there are fancy marketing ploys that claim non-biodegradable and non-recyclable material as being ‘green’.
“We face challenges in different stages of the product life cycle. The first is the selection of authentic raw material to insure quality and comfort. Stage two is the manufacturing process itself, as it requires a large amount of expertise to manufacture eco-conscious raw materials and proprietary techniques without losing the point of parity. Finally, once the product finishes its life cycle, it should only penetrate the earth with biodegradable materials.
“Yet another challenge is that although the environment is often talked about, most notably amongst Millennials, there is still a hesitation to actually select a product of this nature. This is mainly due to the perception that eco-conscious products are often expensive and may not be trendy enough. We as innovators have bridged this gap, as we were one of the first to introduce eco-friendly products to the market that are both trendy and unburdened by price premium.”
Michael Twer, vice-president/general manager, Grund America:
“Two big challenges are: developing certified organic supply chains certified to GOTS and insuring the integrity of the organic textile category as we grow exponentially. Companies around the globe are having to re-tool and re-examine their practices to comply with strict standards that present a big change from ‘business as usual’—and with a lot more tracking and transparency.
“In addition, there is the risk of products entering the market with false claims. As an industry, we are doing our part to report any violators. However, retailers play a vital role and should both demand and confirm certifications from their suppliers—indeed, they should become certified themselves so as to insure supply chain compliance from field to retail.”
Sukanta Nanda, cofounder and ceo, Syona Home LLC:
“The top two challenges are:
“1) Educating consumers that buying eco-friendly products makes better economic sense in the long run, i.e. overall cost of non-eco-friendly products is high due to impact on environment, which they would pay later in an indirect manner.
“2) Clever marketing, mislabeling and lack of transparency by product manufacturers within the industry leading to low levels of trust in brands and products with consumers, including Millennials who are eco-friendly product supporters.”