By Jennifer Moscatello
Why did we select LENZING™ Modal Color as the perfect fabric from which to craft our sustainable new line of reusable shopping bags? Three reasons: It’s sustainable. It’s washable. It’s compostable. And it’s available in the United States through BRINGiT.
You may be thinking, “LENZING™ Modal Color what? That doesn’t sound particularly natural.”
Despite its unnatural sounding moniker, LENZING™ Modal Color is a fiber produced from sustainably harvested beechwood trees in Europe. The Austrian textile company that creates it, Lenzing AG, got its start more than 80 years ago in Lenzing, Austria, and manufactures a sought-after array of environmentally responsible fabrics derived from wood pulp including viscose, lyocell and modal.
Want more detail? Let’s dive right in.
LENZING™ Modal Color is constructed from trees harvested in sustainably managed beechwood forests in Europe, predominantly located in Austria and Germany. Beechwood trees are unique in that they grow without the use of fertilizers or irrigation, and self-rejuvenate so they don’t need to be replanted, making them an ideal natural resource. Forest thinning—a process in which smaller, weaker trees are removed and their larger, healthier brethren are left to flourish—promotes tree growth and forest vitality by ensuring that the trees that remain can more readily avail themselves of the nutrients found in the soil and water. This helps maintain a healthy ecosystem, and effectively renders the fabric a by-product of that ecosystem.
Once harvested, the wood is cut into chips that are further reduced into wood pulp, which is then transferred into fibers. Lenzing uses a closed-loop system to dissolve the wood pulp and from that, create fibers that can be transferred into fabric. What is “closed-loop,” you ask? It means that Lenzing has developed a non-toxic and environmentally friendly method of converting the wood into fiber. In production, organic solvents are used to dissolve the wood pulp, 95% of which is then recovered and redirected back into the production process.
Still curious? We were too.
Have a look at this video to learn more: https://youtu.be/47KSf_7VY_I
iTBag and iTBag Metro
Like you, we’ve long used reusable shopping bags, but have also long lamented the challenge of keeping them clean. Modal, thankfully, is machine washable, so you can bid adieu to the icky remnants of produce past and just toss your bag in the wash, knowing that it’ll be ready to go when you are. What a relief!
Perhaps the most exciting quality of all: LENZING™ Modal Color are home compostable and fully biodegradable in water and soil. Which makes the fabric truly cradle to cradle, with the capacity to positively impact the earth in so many ways. Of course, given our bags’ innate durability, you needn’t worry about composting for some time. But it’s nice to know that when the time does eventually roll around, the fabric will go back to the earth, full circle.
If you’re a fellow bookworm and would like to learn more about Lenzing—the fiber and the company— delve into Lenzing’s Sustainability Report. We think you’ll be as impressed as we are. https://bit.ly/3oZlIUK
And we’re not the only ones taking notice! WWD, the fashion industry’s go-to resource for all things innovative and trend-setting, profiled Lenzing in this October 2020 article. So we can officially consider ourselves amongst the cool kids.
If the above isn’t enough to impress you, behold the many certifications LENZING™ Modal Color has received, attesting to its status as one of the most environmentally conscious fabric choices around the world.
LENZING™ Modal Color Certifications
Are other shopping bag options really so bad?
In a word, yes. Let’s break it down:
- Emits 70% more air pollution and 50x more water pollutants than plastic bags
- Consumes 4x as much energy as making a plastic bag
- Uses 3x the amount of water it takes to make plastic bags
- The process of recycling paper can be inefficient
- They’re single-use
- Only contain a small % of recycled material; the rest is virgin plastic
- Cannot be curbside recycled
- Need to go to dedicated recycling bins at store partners
- Despite claims by the plastic industry, only 3% actually get recycled
- In landfills, they break down to produce ozone destroying methane gases
- They’re single-use
- Cannot be recycled
- Don’t break down in marine environments
- In landfills, they break down to produce more of the aforementioned ozone destroying methane gases
- The right conditions are needed to break down safely
- They’re single-use
And for you visual learners, here’s a handy graph to further illustrate the point. FYI, many of the bags found at Trader Joe’s and other markets are made of polypropylene or polyethylene, which are both forms of plastic.
Higgs Materials Sustainability Index
So dear readers, what say you? What are your thoughts on LENZING™ Modal Color? Reusable, compostable shopping bags? Any other sustainable fabrics/products you adore? We’d love to hear your comments, feedback, and suggestions!