Is Jute Eco Friendly?
Many people know that cotton is the most popular and eco-friendly fiber in the world, but few know that jute beats cotton in sustainability from many points of view. Have you ever heard about jute? You probably did in the last years, as this amazing fiber became more and more popular in the accessories department. However, the world uses jute for many other applications and experts expect it to become a widespread material in the nearest future because its benefits and features. So is jute eco-friendly? It is! Let us see what makes jute so valuable from this point of view!
What is Jute?
Specific to Bangladesh and India mostly, jute is a fibrous tall plant. What we usually call jute is in fact the fibers harvested from the skin and stem of the plant. People call it the “golden fiber” because of its color and its market value. Once people harvest it, they spin the jute fibers into durable threads. You may know the fabric as burlap.
Jute is durable due to its woody composition and it grows without needing too much water or any chemical fertilizers and pesticides. If this doesn’t convince you that jute is eco-friendly, let us see more reasons why we should all pay more attentions to the plant and its fibers!
What Makes Jute Eco-Friendly and Sustainable?
Jute is eco-friendly and sustainable because it needs little to no intervention to grow and replenish. In comparison to cotton for instance, it needs less water to survive and no chemical interventions, as we just mentioned. Nevertheless, jute comes with many other eco-friendly features and we will list them as follows:
- The plant reaches maturation very fast (4 to 6 months) offering large yields for the area sizes people plant it on. This makes jute a renewable material.
- This growth efficiency means that we need less land to cultivate jute in comparison to other crops; therefore, we do not need to expand and encroach upon natural habitats and ecosystems with our agricultural efforts.
- We can grow and harvest jute on the same area of land, as jute actually increases soil fertility for future crops (either jute or other crops). When we rotate the jute crops, the next crops benefit from more nutrients and less pests. Since jute grows mostly in rural remote areas, a focus on more organized jute crops could lead to the expansion of food crops in vulnerable world areas, a boost in the economy of many vulnerable countries, and a chance for many people to become more independent from an economic point of view.
- Since jute grows in tropical areas, it relies on natural rainfall to grow. Besides the little need of irrigation, traditionally, people harvest jute and extract the jute fibers manually, thus reducing furthermore the need of energy consuming, unsustainable industrial processes.
- As a fiber, jute is biodegradable (it degrades biologically in 1 to 2 years) and compostable. In other words, disposing of jute does not come with a huge environmental impact. Jute scraps in compost continue the jute’s sustainability feature, as we use compost for land organic fertilization.
- Since the fibers are incredibly strong and durable, jute products stand the test of time and are resilient to wear and tear. For this reason, jute tote bags and burlap shopping bags are all the rage right now when it comes to reusable products as part of the global fight against plastic. Increasing the use of jute and its applications to counteract plastic use, we could have a solid means to stop climate change in its tracks.
- The jute plant absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen at a rate several times higher than trees. Some say that one hectare of jute plants can absorb around 15 tons of CO2 and release 11 tons of oxygen during an average jute season.
- While currently unexploited, the wooden core of the jute plant has the potential of satisfying most of the world’s needs in terms of wood. We could further research and use the core of the jute plant to put a stop to deforestations.
- While underused, raw green jute is an excellent material for making paper. Using jute for paper can also decrease deforestation worldwide and offer the world a renewable, cheap resource for other paper applications.
- The more we learn about jute, the better we understand that this crop can open new paths in human development and ecological protection. Jute crops allow new areas and populations to have access to new job opportunities and enhanced sources of food.
- The jute/burlap fabric is breathable and resilient to weather conditions, wear, tear, transport, and more. In other words, carrying foods and other materials can become more sustainable even further, as jute eliminates the need to use unsustainable storage and transport solutions.
What are the Main Applications of Jute?
As we already saw, jute is an amazing fiber and its applications and benefits can be endless. Besides the wildly popular jute tote bags, burlap gift bags, burlap shopping bags, and more, we use jute for other purposes as well:
- Bags and sacks;
- Bailing and bundle clothes;
- Many types of ropes, twines, and strings;
- Clothes, home furnishing, and fashion accessories. We witness an increased demand of jute clothes, but not the coarse type, but rather the high-end type. We can separate jute threads into very thin and refined threads that are similar to silk.
- Tapestries, soft luggage, decorations, baskets, storage solutions;
- Curtains, chair coverings, carpets, area rugs, hessian cloth, and backing for linoleum;
- Outdoor furniture and more.
Is Jute Eco Friendly? Conclusion
Jute is the second-most important vegetal fiber after cotton and it is even more sustainable than cotton. Since it needs less water, maintenance, pesticides, and fertilization to yield significant crops, jute can become an agricultural eco-friendly and sustainable asset. Communities cultivating it can benefit from it directly and indirectly, thus contributing to their own economic development.
Cultivating jute for wood, paper, clothes and bags, furniture and other applications can lead to a sustainable and efficient fight against plastic consumption, with the added benefit of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, lowering our carbon footprints, and finding new and alternative resources to fight climate change.