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A  guide to natural and biodegradable fibres that are safe to compost and can be used and washed without shedding tiny plastic microfibres that go on to pollute the land and sea.

What Are Fibres & Bristles

Fibres are thin strands that can be spun to form one continuous thread that can be used a rope or thread or if fine enough woven into cloth.
Bristles are short stiff animal hairs or feathers. Or very  stiff vegetable fibres used in brushes.
Plant derived fibres/bristles include everything from the finest cotton to the stiffest bassine
Animal derived fibres/bristles range from fine silk to boar bristle hair brushes.
Bristles and fibres can also be replicated in plastic. So acrylic mimics wool and plastic brushes replace natural brooms.

Fibres, Yarns and Fabrics

Fibres (and then yarns and ultimately fabrics) can be can be natural, synthetic or chemically produced hybrid called regenerated fibres.

Know Your Fibres

Natural Fibres
These are plant or animal derived.
They biodegrade
Coarse Fibres for rope, string, sacking and industrial uses include:
Abaca can be used for rope, coir from coconuts has a wide range of applications, jute is used for sack cloth and sisal for string. As well as these traditional uses there are many new applications.
Read more HERE
Fibres used for finer fabrics and yarn include cotton, flax wool and silk. They are used to male threads and yarns and can ultimately be knitted or woven into fabrics

Synthetic fibres
These are man-made from chemicals many of which are petroleum derived.
They include acrylic , nylon and polyester
They are derived from oil and coal.
Most do not biodegrade.

Regenerated Fibres
The base material is cellulose that can be obtained from a range of sources including wood, paper, cotton fiber, or  bamboo. It is then converted through a chemical process into a fiber.
Some it is claimed are biodegradable. Some are not.
Regenerated fibres include Rayon, Bamboo Rayon, Viscose,Modal and tencel (lyocell)

Fabrics
Fibres can be spun into yarn or threads.
In turn this can be can be twisted into string or rope
woven or knitted into fabric.

More
Read more  about fabrics and fibres HERE

Know Your Bristles & Brushes

Plant Derived Bristles
Basin,
Natural Coco Fibre (COIR) can also be used as a rough yarn
Black Coco Fibre (DYED COCO),
Bahia Piassava (BASS) Arenga (GUMATI ) Tampico Fibre
Union mixture is a mixture of white fibre and bassine.

Animal Derived Bristles
The most commonly known are
Boars hair is used for hairbrushes.
Feathers for dusters
A variety of animal hair for decorating and artists paint brushes

Synthetic Bristles

Polypropylen (PPN) PPN
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Flagged PVC/PPN

Easy enough to spot when they are used alone but sometimes they are mixed with natural fibres. Do check carefully when buying natural fibres. Ask if any of the above have been used or look carefully at the bristles.

Read more HERE

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