The prolonged period of drought we are experiencing in Lombardy reminds us of some considerations that have determined the choice of the materials we use.
Here in Como, our lake has reached the level below which navigation enters a crisis, the solidity of walls and docks is at risk and even flora and fauna find themselves having to face a difficult situation for their survival.
It is an extreme situation since the climate of these months is extreme, with prolonged drought and temperatures that are expected to reach over 40°C already today, when values have been recorded for many weeks already above the average of the respective periods.
We speak from our direct experience here, in Lombardy, but the problem heavily affects all of northern Italy and many other Italian and European regions.
Practically all the municipalities of the province have been issued ordinances that aim to limit the use of water resources, prohibiting actions such as watering the gardens.
It is easy to guess who those who think they can consider themselves an exception to this requirement are, seeing the luxuriance of some private gardens these days. Where civic sense and compliance with ordinances – in addition to common sense – have fertile soil, in the gardens you can see sunburned grass and plants with falling leaves and dry flowers, even for plants exposed only a few hours a day to direct sunlight, as happens with this hydrangea in our garden – hypericum and ivy are not doing that bad, luckily.
What this period should teach us is that climate change is a factual reality that is now difficult to deny even by the most convinced deniers, and that water, the source of life, is not a resource that we can take for granted – as used to think we lucky citizens of 21st century Europe.
It is not the intention of the writer to provide a list of virtuous behaviors to follow to avoid waste and excessive consumption, also and above all, because those who follow CAMCO are certainly sensitive to these issues and there would be very little to teach.
The unfortunate opportunity of this emergency is here taken only to share the reasoning that was made at the time, when it came to thinking about which fiber to combine our beloved extrafine merino wool, organic and mulesing-free, so that the resulting fabric was more resistant to loss of shape in the garments in which it would be used than in the case of a wool-only fabric.
Excluding in principle all synthetic fibers (for all the reasons set out in a previous post, it would have been possible to focus on the mainstream cotton, easy to find and at affordable prices.
Bamboo, linen, and hemp would have been other alternatives, but for the combination with a fiber classified as “extrafine”, TENCEL ™ seemed more suitable, sharing many qualities with merino wool such as softness, breathability, thermoregulation, effective moisture management body, inhibition of the development of bacteria and odors, etc etc …
In addition to this aspect, TENCEL ™ proved to be the preferable fiber for sustainability aspects, including considerations related to water needs.
If the idea of telling the story of this choice is something inspired by the climate of these days, it is precisely because TENCEL ™ was a choice also dictated by the sustainability of the production of this fiber. (Sustainability is also expressed by the very nature of the fiber, certified biodegradable and compostable).
TENCEL ™ is the name Lenzing AG has given to its lyocell, which is the generic fiber.
Lyocell is obtained from the pulp of wood and having chosen the fiber produced by the Austrian company Lenzing AG among the various producers has its motivation in the choice of the wood used and in the sustainability of the production process – at such high levels as to be awarded by the European Commission (Euopean Award for the Environment, category: Technology Award for Sustainable Development “)
The wood used comes from semi-natural forests mainly in Austria and neighboring countries. Sustainably managed forests of beech, spruce, birch, poplar, pine, maple, and plantations, especially eucalyptus (which “yields” more for its rapid growth and high cellulose content. Eucalyptus yields 5 times the textile fibers of what the same field would yield if cultivated with cotton).
The wood taken is only what can be replaced with the growth of new plants.
It must always be considered that every textile fiber must come from somewhere and leaving out the synthetic fibers – mostly coming from the processing of oil waste and responsible for most of the microplastics that are polluting the oceans – the use of fibers of natural origin that exploit resources that can be regenerated seems the best choice … obviously combined with habits that do not go in the direction of consumerism that leads to accumulating more than what is reasonably needed.
The production process of TENCEL ™ has a closed-cycle scheme, in which more than 99% of organic solvents are recycled and the water is reused.
The Higg Index of Sustainability of Materials (“Higg SMI”), which measures the sustainability of the production processes of the textile industry, has shown how the production of TENCEL ™ obtains a score of 40 times higher, as regards water consumption, compared to the production of traditional non-organic cotton (for information on the index: https://howtohigg.org/ for a graphic representation of the positioning of the various textile fibers based on environmental impact, read this article).
Leaving aside the considerations on production and materials and focusing on the life of the garment in merino wool and TENCEL ™, the fact of being made up of a fabric that combines two materials with excellent management of body vapor, thermoregulatory and limiting the generation of stagnation of humidity and proliferation of odors and bacteria, also leads to the consequence that the garments do not need frequent washing as they would require if they were made of other materials, even and above all if they were produced with synthetic fibers.
A further water saving adds to the savings generated in the production phase.