One of the most important things that I learned earlier this week is that when it comes to a choice between using natural or synthetic fibers, natural isn’t always the way to go. You may be asking the question “Why?” and the answer is simple: although they are sustainable, the finishing process contains many substances that are less than sustainable for our environment. Out of the thirty-six thousand chemicals and dyes known to man, only 36 are approved by the EPA for the environment. 36 out of thousands! To me, that’s incredible! So this finishing process consists of both a chemical as well as a dying method that ultimately takes the raw product and turns it into a fiber product. From start to finish, harmful chemical are used and then disposed of through several different ways – the most common being water pollution. The reading this week touched on the differences between synthetic and natural fibers, the toxins they contain, their life cycle, and the way they’re used in the furnishings as well as finishes. This article also touched on how these fibers can be recycled, which is quite unique for each.
From what I understand, as long as the different biological make-ups of each fiber aren’t mixed in any way (cotton fabric remaining 100%, instead of a cotton and lycra mix) they will be able to fully biodegrade and become part of the earth’s ecosystem again. This method is also known as Cradle to Cradle, which is a closed loop lifecycle for a product and ideal for many products made today due to their sustainability.Personally, I prefer the use of man-made materials because they are much more sustainable (in my opinion), as the process it goes through uses a minimal amount of both water and petroleum – precious resources in a world nearing 4 billion people in population. This method also produces a very durable and recyclable product that withstands the day-to-day stress of wear, which is ideal for many interiors or building products because of the various levels of use different items go through in the course of their lifetime. The article I read this week was quite useful to me, as an interior designer, because it not only reinforced a few things that I already knew, but also broadened my horizons on the different kinds of toxins in certain fibers as well as their unique biological make-ups – the main component in determining how things are recycled. Recycling is one of the key components in how things are reused and play a big part in the whole cycle process of “re”cycle. I cannot wait to see what else this class hold for the remainder of our time together.