Why is linen an eco-friendly and healthier choice?

nursery cushion

Linen cushion. Columbia road flower market print

I love linen!  It’s a gorgeous textured, luxury fabric which has been woven into cloth for nearly 10,000 years and it gets better with age.  The more you wash it, the softer, more beautiful it becomes and it’s antibacterial and anti fungal hypoallergenic qualities are great for people with allergies or skin issues.  Linen comes from the flax plant, which is a very versatile plant for farmers to grow.

The whole flax plant can be used, so it leaves no waste and only needs a little energy to process it.  The flax plant can be used for making products such as heat installation, paper, installation for the car industry, soap, linoleum floors, which is made from flax seed oil.   The oil is high in alpha omega−3 fatty acids and is very good for you, the oil is also used as a component in paints, cosmetics, and soil coverings.  The flax seeds can be used as the base for a fine flour used in medical compresses.

linen lavender pillows Beetroot Press

Linen lavender pillows from Beetroot Press

Flax also grows naturally and only needs a few chemical fertilisers than cotton, less water, requires no irrigation, it is gentler on the land and when rotated it helps prevent soil depletion.  If pesticides are being used, they use 5 times fewer than cotton to grow.  And as it’s a natural fibre, flax linen is 100% recyclable and biodegradeable. it’s also very strong, much more than cotton, which means products made from this fabric will last longer and hopefully not end up in landfill, and also means it reduces the need for starching during spinning and weaving.  So that means buying vintage linens is an excellent choice as they will be strong, well washed and used, so will have that fabulous textured softness.  I saw some old linen flour sacks the other day for £30 each, I’m sure you could get a good deal on e-bay or antiques market, if you are happy to search around for them.  The industrial process of spinning and weaving have little to no impact on the environment, artificial fibres such as viscose, bamboo or corn require energy and chemicals, whereas flax and linen do not.  The remaining residual flax is used in fibre boards, bank notes and other similar products.  The impact on the environment is minimal throughout the whole process.

linen tea towel by BEETROOT PRESS

Linen tea towel from Beetroot Press

Linen can be used for all textiles around the home, when used for curtains it has excelled insulating properties, while keeping cool in summer.  Cushions are fabulous in linen, upholstered sofas and chairs look great with linen, some people don’t like the creases, but I think it adds to the relaxed elegance.  I have been working with linen to make Beetroot Press’ lavender pillows and Columbia Road Flower market cushions, and I just love the breathability, feel and look of the fabric.  I can imagine linen pillowcases and sheets would be heavenly to lie under, tea towels are great, because they are washed and used so much, and are very absorbent.  Same with napkins and table cloths.  I think the only downside is the ironing (which I personally hate doing), but I find if you iron whilst the linen is still damp from the wash it takes no time at all.  Brills!

flax bread

I’m off wheat at the moment for my health and I found this Flax bread recipe to share with you from Manitoba Canola Growers website.  I haven’t tried it, but I will do as have recently bought all the ingredients.  Have a look at the link here for the recipe, I’ll try it out and update you on how it tastes!

Information sources:

world linen

Ada & Ina

Libeco

Calvin fabrics

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