The production and consumption of natural fibres like cotton, wool, silk, and linen have been known to the textile industry. But the little known fact is that with new developments in the field of fibre technology, use of fruits to extract fibres from to make fabrics, has been one of the unique innovations in the recent times. Fibres of coconut, pineapple, sugarcane, and banana are being used to produce fabrics that are eco-friendly and sustainable.
The much savored fruit is now being used for making textile materials. However, it is not the fruit but the leaves that are used to make the fibre. The fibre from the leaves is obtained either by manually retting the leaves under water or by mechanically extracting them. The remains of the pineapple fruit contain high amount of lignin and cellulose. The fibres extracted from the fruit have silk like luster and possess cream color. They are finer than jute, have good anti-bacterial, and dyeing properties.
Blending pineapple fibres because of its silk like qualities with polyester and silk have found new utilities in the textile industry. Moreover, features like high strength, biodegradability, and affordable pricing make the pineapple leaf fibre a good source for manufacturing technical textiles too. Fabrics made from this delicious fruit are soft, weigh light, are easy to take care of and wash. Philippines is the largest producer of pineapple fibre in the world. The fibre is used to manufacture upholsteries, home textiles, and garments, non-woven, and technical textile fabrics.
Another new kind of natural fibre is obtained from the banana plant. The bark of the banana tree is being used to make fibres. The average fineness of the banana fibre is 2380Nm and the standard length of the fibre is 60mm. The banana fibre consists of cellulose, lignin, and hemicelluloses. These fibres look very similar to bamboo and ramie fibres but the smoothness of the banana fibres is far more superior. Until recently banana fibres did not have a wide scope of applications. They were being used to manufacture products like ropes, mats, and other composite materials. However, with the recent and growing demand for eco-friendly textile fabrics, the importance of banana fibres is rising. One can find garments made out of the fibres along with neck ties, cushion covers, table cloths, and curtains. Physical properties of banana fibres like strong moisture absorption, natural shine, high strength, and small elongation make it ideal for apparel production.
Banana silk yarns obtained from the plant have a lustrous texture and are used to make scarves and saris. The 14 layers of the banana plant are used to make banana silk fibre, which is made in countries like India, Nepal, and Malaysia. This silk is being used as vegan-silk or eco-friendly silk in the textile industry. Moreover, the high tensile strength of banana silk and adaptable dyeing quality makes it an excellent substitute to the conventional silk.
The use of coconut fibres in textile has been limited to rugs, fillings in seats, and mats. But with innovation and research lately have brought up new applications of coir especially in apparels and geo-textiles. The coir has the highest amount of lignin which makes the fibre strong and a good resistant to microbes. The fibre is woven into geo-textiles and is used in regions where soil erosion control and sustainable vegetation is required. Thick coir blankets made from these high tensile fibres last longer, have high absorption quality, resist germinations and are completely biodegradable. The waste coconut husk is spun together with recycled polyester for making insular jackets. Such novel uses make the moisture wicking and warmth retaining features of the coir to the best use in garments.
The sugarcane fibre is obtained from the cane stalk of the fruit, also known as bagasse. The garment industry uses bagasse, essentially a waste product, to make textile fibres. Lyocell is a sugarcane fibre made from the bagasse having immense potential application in the medical field. The tenacity, softness, and the biodegradability of the fibres make them the perfect raw material for making disposable medical and commercial textile. Sugarcane fibres used with a blend of selvage denim are also being used to manufacture denim pants and jackets using the age old Japanese techniques.
The never thought use of sources such as fruits, which were until now used as edible items, have become raw materials for developing textile fibres. The growing awareness among consumers regarding ethical and vegan fashion has led to the ever increasing demand for the use of natural fibres in not just garments but the whole of textile industry. Use of fruit fibres makes the textile materials environmentally friendly, organic, and biodegradable commodities. Moreover, since some fibres are also developed from by-products and wastes of the plants, they are also recycled fibres. Fruits, which not just taste good but also look good, are slowly making their way into the textile world.