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. Have you ever heard about jute? You probably did in the last years, as this amazing fiber became more and more popular. 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. Let us show you what makes jute so valuable and sustainable
What is Jute?
The jute fibers are mainly concentrated near the woody, central parts of the stalk, composed of cellulose and lignin. There are two kinds of jute that are produced today: white jute and brown jute which is stronger, softer, and silkier. People call it the “golden fiber” because of its color and its market value. Once harvested, we 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 much water or any chemical fertilizers and pesticides. If this doesn’t convince you that jute is extremely eco-friendly, let us share more reasons why you should pay more attention 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, it needs less water to survive and no chemical interventions, as we just mentioned. Jute comes with many other eco-friendly features including:
- The plant reaches maturation extremely quickly (4 to 6 months) -offering large yields for the area sizes people plant. 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 increases soil fertility. 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 countries and a chance for many people gain employment and become more independent financially.
- 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 the need of energy consuming and 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 are resilient to wear and tear. For this reason, jute and burlap reusable bags are extremely popular when it comes to reusable products as part of the global fight against single-use products. Increasing the use of jute and its applications to counteract plastic use, we could have a solid means to stop climate change.
- The jute plant absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen at a rate several times higher than trees. Just one hectare or 2.5 acres of jute plants can absorb around 15 tons of CO2 and release 11 tons of oxygen during an average jute season. Carbon dioxide doesn't only affect the atmosphere, but it has also made our oceans about 30 percent more acidic, affecting a wide variety of sea organisms. That percentage is also expected to rise in the coming years.
- 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 the deforestation of the Amazon, Brazilian Pantanal and other large forests.
- 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 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 as jute eliminates the need to use unsustainable storage and transport solutions.