One of the oldest agricultural crops in the world, flax is also one of the most inherently eco-friendly. Hardy and pest-resistant, it needs very little in the way of fertilizers and chemicals to thrive, and little or no irrigation during growth.
It's also virtually waste-free, since every part of the plant is used: flax seeds are considered a "superfood" because they're rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the oil pressed from them is an ingredient in all sorts of products, and – best of all – the strong fiber of the flax plant is used to make linen, one of our favorite fabrics.
Before flax can become linen, the dried stalks are spread out in the fields, where dew, rain and sunlight help to break them down, allowing the fibers to be separated. In Europe, this natural, chemical-free process – called dew-retting – has replaced more traditional but less earth-friendly water-retting (where the stalks were submerged in local rivers). The retting process frees up the fibers, which are then separated from the straw and graded – the short, thick fibers (called tow) are used for coarse fabrics, twine and rope, and the long, fine, lustrous fibers (called line) are reserved for linen.
Above: Dew retting, courtesy of ©CELC - European Confederation of Flax and Hemp.
Above: High quality linen fiber, courtesy of ©CELC - European Confederation of Flax and Hemp.
We've fallen in love with this beautiful, durable fiber, and we're always finding new ways to use it, from bedding to robes and tabletop, alone or combined with cotton. Our linen is made with flax grown in Europe, to such strict standards it's actually beyond organic. And the mills where it's woven and processed operate under strict guidelines, too, ensuring that the finished products are every bit as eco-friendly as the amazing plant from which they came.
CELC European Cenfederation of Flax and Hemp put together this informative video on linen: