5 Reasons Why the Future Needs Linen
The ultimate in lived-in luxury, linen has made a comeback in recent years, and that’s a great thing for both your lifestyle and the environment. Linen bedding and home goods have a universal appeal for both their style and function. Effortlessly chic, with an iconic, naturally pebbled texture, linen can be the earthy detail that pulls an entire room together.
But there’s more to linen than timeless style. If you or your partner are a hot sleeper, linen sheets stay remarkably cool and dry, while getting softer every time you wash them. After washing, Linen’s signature wrinkles are part of its allure, which means you never have to iron.
And if you think of linen as an exclusive summer fabric, think again. There is an increasingly wide variety of weights and applications available, including winter sheeting. In fact, the idea that linen is merely suited for beachy picnics is relatively new. Just consider what you call the place where you store your sheeting—your linen closet! That’s because linen has been a staple textile for a lot longer than cotton, and the go-to fabric for luxury bedding in Europe for hundreds of years.
It’s no surprise then that the Libeco Belgian linen we offer is a Royal Warrant Holder for the Belgian Court. This means that Libeco is the supplier of choice for the Royal Palace, an honor appointed by the King of Belgium himself.
Though we at Ecoist will take the royal pedigree, what we really love about Libeco linen is their dedication to sustainability and environmental stewardship. Combining luxury, quality, and sustainability, Libeco linen is the fabric of the future. The following list will show you why:
1. FLAX IS FRIENDLY
Linen is made from flax, one of the most environmentally friendly fibers in the world. In the Western European climate, flax is grown with virtually zero input of water other than rain. This means that over the lifetime of a linen garment it uses just under a quarter of the water that it's cotton counterpart would. Flax also has very few natural enemies, making the use of pesticides unnecessary.
When it comes time for retting—the process where fine flax fibers are extracted from the woody stem, Libeco’s organic farmers rely on Mother Nature’s morning dew working in tandem with the afternoon sun. Retting is key to the natural characteristics of your linen, and it works like this: Since flax fibers are held to the stem by natural pectins, dissolving these pectins is vital to extracting the fibers from the stem without breaking them. Rain and dew alternated with sunshine create an environment where micro-organisms naturally break down the pectins.
During this process the flax fiber gets its natural beige color, often referred to as écru. Linen écru can vary in color from one year to the next on a spectrum from gray to gold depending on the retting conditions, similar to the way that wine is influenced by its terroir.
2. ZERO WASTE
Even after the retting process flax leaves zero waste. The leftover part of the plant called “scutching tows” are perfect for coarser yarns and as the raw material for paper. A byproduct called the “shives” is used for manufacturing chipboards and for animal bedding. And yet another common by-product of flax is Linseed Oil, which is great for wood preservation, especially in varnishes. At the Libeco mill, they immediately collect all the debris from shearing their fabrics which are then repurposed into the insulation. Nothing gets wasted. This closed production cycle has earned Libeco a Cradle to Cradle certificate.
3. FLAX CRAVES CARBON DIOXIDE
Not only does flax produce zero waste, it actually removes massive amounts of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. Since CO2 is the most abundant greenhouse gas, trapping CO2 is critical to stemming the tide of global warming. The European Confederation of Flax and Hemp (CELC) state that just one hectare of flax retains 3.7 tons of CO2 every year; that's equivalent to the emissions from the average car driven for nearly six days without stopping. In Europe alone, the current Flax crop absorbs the amount of CO2 each year equivalent to a car driving nonstop for 1,337 years.
The amount of flax used especially for Libeco’s annual production equals more than 7,000 acres, absorbing more than 11,000 metric tons of CO2 a year. To give you an idea, this is the amount of CO2 a car would emit if you drove it one thousand times around the entire earth!
4. CARBON NEUTRAL WEAVING
When combining the carbon craving properties of flax with Libeco’s commitment to carbon-neutral weaving, Libeco Belgian linen is actually a carbon-negative product!
The Libeco mill is powered by the sun and the North Sea’s salty breeze, making it literally as sustainable as possible. Emissions that cannot be reduced in the short term are offset annually by Libeco’s support of an international climate project in Uganda that manufactures energy-efficient cookers for local people. Each device reduces CO2 emissions by 2 tons per year, curbing local deforestation and improving the respiratory health of the local population.
5. A NATURAL PERFORMANCE FABRIC
Linen is naturally anti-bacterial and thermoregulating, meaning that it is cool to wear in summer and warm in winter. And if you do sweat in it, linen is odor resistant. By using linen bedding, bath towels, and kitchen items, you can say goodbye to pesky dust mites and other germs. People who suffer from allergies report feeling relieved when using linen in their surroundings.
Linen is also very durable and strong. At one point in history, linen was even used in a form of battle armor called Linothorax! And in ancient Egypt linen was used as currency. This durability comes from the length of the linen fibers which are very long. Durability is one of the overlooked keys to sustainability. But it’s obvious that the longer something lasts the less of it you have to buy. Linen’s longevity is a bonus, as many people believe that the fabric gets better with age. At the end of the linen life-cycle, linen fabric when naturally dyed is biodegradable and can break down into the earth without polluting the environment.
Dating back to 34,000 B.C. linen is one of the oldest fabrics on earth, and its future has never looked brighter.
Photography provided by LIBECO HOME