How do you choose an ecological household linen?

Cotton or organic cotton, organic wool or washed linen… The household linen market offers us various fabrics that are said to be of high quality. What is the quality of a fabric and how not to get lost in the disturbing green speeches of the different brands? At Kipli, quality and responsibility in the production process are paramount. We discuss the most important points to consider when choosing the right household linen.

Cotton, what are we talking about?

The textile market, a complex market

One of the longest and most opaque chains in the manufacturing industry is that of the textile industry. In order not to get lost in its complexity, knowledge of the raw materials, the weaving and the place of manufacture is essential.

Each fiber has its specific characteristics, whether it is a natural yarn (such as cotton, wool, hemp, linen) or synthetic. In addition to clothing, transport, agriculture, medicine or sports, the home is one of the best-known areas of application for textiles.

When do we talk about textiles?

A material becomes a textile when it makes it possible to produce felt or non-woven threads that can be turned into fabric. Each material has an impact on the correct manufacturing and gives specific characteristics to the final textile product.

The materials can be distinguished between fibers (of short length) or wires (of several hundred meters). They are classified into: 3 categories: natural, chemical or mineral fibres.

At Kipli, we focus on natural fibers when choosing our fabrics. they can be of animal originsuch as wool, cashmere, silk or vegetable (cotton, linen, hemp, jute…).

Photo: © Kipli

the conventional cotton, vegetable fiber, represents more than 50% of the world’s textile production and is one of the most polluting in the world. Its production concentrates 24% of the total volume of insecticides used and 10% of the pesticides, according to the World Health Organization. Worldwide, 64% of cotton is genetically modified (source: ISAAA, 2016). Faced with these alarming numbers, the cultivation of organic cotton has gained momentum in recent years. It is now a solid and viable alternative to conventional cotton.

We strongly recommend that you choose organic cotton bed linen! Unlike conventional cotton (and all other non-organic materials), its production is done without pesticides, insecticides or other aggressive substances that pollute and deplete the soil. It thus preserves the land and surrounding biodiversity.

In addition, the cultivation of organic cotton would be less water-intensive than that of conventional cotton. A special article on Mars-Elle clarifies that the difference between organic cotton and conventional cotton lies not so much in the water requirement in general, but rather in their source of supplying the water needs from watering and irrigation. The vast majority of conventional cotton is grown in areas with dry soil (little rainfall). It therefore requires a greater consumption of water from sprinkling and irrigation, the ecological footprint of which is much greater.

By giving preference to organic cotton bedding, you therefore contribute to the transition to a more responsible trade.

What is weaving?

If we look closely at a fabric, we see a crossing of threads. The multitude of intersecting threads forms a piece of cloth. There are 2 types of crossings: a crossing of wires vertically and horizontally, called woven fabric (also warp and weft fabric) or a series of loops that make up it a non-woven fabricmaize knitted without changing threads (called mesh).

Photo: © Kipli

The two types of weaving: play an important role in the elasticity of a fabric. If the mesh is naturally stretchable, the woven fabric is less flexible and allows for a denser fabric. At Kipli, we opt for a weave of 80 threads/cm² (warp and weft) made of organic cotton percale, which gives our bed linen great softness.

There are also different ways to weave warp and weft threads. This is called shield. Three types of fabrics are made in different variations or combinations of yarns. The traditional type? The Web ! As part of the manufacturing process, the weft thread (horizontal thread) is routed alternately above and below the warp thread (vertical thread) in a very regular manner. Percale cotton is therefore one of the more qualitative fabrics than standard cotton.

If you observe dust showing lines, it is: twill weave where, unlike canvas, the weave is shifted to the right or left to create patterns. A third type of weaving is: satin – particularly flexible and fragile because the weft thread passes under a warp thread several times, making the fabric shine on one side and matt on the other.

To create a quality fabric, elements such as the definition of the weave, the combination but also the thread itself as well as their tension are essential. When you choose your household linen with care, you should not only consider the raw material or the know-how of the weaving. Finally, the place of production will close the loop of quality fabrics and ecological responsibility!

What about organic cotton?

“Organic” cotton is not necessarily organic… How do you recognize it?

Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is the world’s largest non-profit cotton sustainability program. In just over a decade, they have convinced industry stakeholders to become partners: farmers, ginners, spinners, suppliers, manufacturers, brand owners, retailers, civil society, donors and governments. The initiative now accounts for approximately 12% of global cotton production.

Photo: © Kipli

Warning for green washing !

According to French investigative journalist and editor-in-chief of Forbidden Stories, Sandrine Rigaud, BCI is a label “created by a brand (…) to meet the needs of brands”. In 2017, as part of the show Cash inquiry, she went to Uzbekistan, to a factory with the BCI stamp. On the spot it is explained to him that there is no obligation to use the same cotton to make BCI cotton, meaning that a blend of non-ecological cotton is very likely. And rightly so, when a factory is labeled BCI, every yarn that comes out is labeled BCI (even if it doesn’t contain BCI cotton). Here’s a great example of green washing.

After the broadcast, the Better Cotton Initiative association wanted to make it clear that no Uzbek farms have their Better Cotton license.

Despite BCI’s commitment to better cotton production, it doesn’t always come from organic farming. Behind responsible cotton labels and other marketing or green washinghas also hidden the end result: their production criteria include the admission of genetically modified seeds and social conditions such as wages or respect for working hours are not respected.

So, how to find it?

How do you recognize reliable labels?

When it comes to cotton, you can rely on certification GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard). The label certifies that the cotton used in the composition of a textile comes from at least 75% organic farming. This label, often confused with the Oeko-Tex certification, does not guarantee that the cotton comes from organic farming, but that the product has been produced as part of a responsible process and in accordance with working conditions (Oeko-Tex Made in Green) . It certifies textiles without toxic products for health and the environment (Oeko-Tex STANDARD 100).

Photo: © Kipli

With these labels you can rest assured about the quality of the textiles and that their production has been carried out with respect for the environment and your health. At Kipli, we have achieved Oeko-Tex and GOTS certifications for our lyocell bed linen and duvets.

Another element that influences the quality of a fabric is weaving: the way a fabric is made.

Why prefer European or even local production?

The Union des Industries Textiles (UIT) reveals the numbers in black and white. After their study of 20 January 2021, they demonstrate for a relocation of textile production to France, because a relocation of 25% of production would reduce the CO2 footprint by 3.5 million tons eq. CO2 (ie Paris’ carbon footprint for 2 months). The entire production process (spinning, weaving/knitting and finishing) represents 70% of the ecological footprint during production outside France. According to the ITU, relocation also makes it possible to produce less by generating fewer unsold items thanks to the short circuit and on-demand production.

Preferring production in France (as opposed to production in China) means that we reduce our carbon footprint by half for every kg of textile.

One of the most important elements in the local and European production chain is the short circuit. A fabric “Made in Bangladesh” that is often not made in the same place can be woven in India with yarns imported from Vietnam and knitted in China, etc.

European manufacturing is advancing on the short circuit path by reducing long distances and promoting a lower carbon footprint. According to BP Statistical overview of World Energy, China (51.7% of global coal consumption), India (11.8%) and the United States (7.2%) are among the countries that consume the most coal in the world. By avoiding production in countries where energy mainly comes from coal, this increases the positive impact on our environment.

Photo: © Kipli

Dust at Kipli

Our bed linen is made in Italy, by a traditional manufacturer who invests in solar energy, reducing energy consumption. Our sheets and duvet covers are made of 100% cotton from certified organic farming. GOTS and OEKO-TEX with a weave of 80 threads/cm². Thanks to the cotton percale, they are particularly soft. Dyes contain dyes approved by: GOTS and comply with the Oeko-Tex Standard label: without azo dyes, PCP, formaldehyde or other substances or metals that are harmful to humans.

Bed linen is far from the only textile in the house. Harmful elements often occur in box springs, curtains or sofas. Kipli has also taken stock to position itself in this particularly polluting market: we want to guarantee not only bed linen, but also quality household linen that respects the environment. That is why, since 1835, we have opted for French manufacturing and artisanal know-how for the clothing of, for example, our linen upholstered bed at Lemaitre Deemestere.

In addition to its natural and aesthetic appearance, linen is an ecological material. It grows quickly and requires little water for cultivation. In addition, France is the country that produces the most flax. In this way, just like with our curtains, we promote local employment and reduce our impact on the environment. We also chose linen to coat our sofa with natural latex!

Did this article make you want to change your sheets? It’s this way!

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