Fibre Focus: Banana


Choosing a fibre from a design perspective can be challenging enough, but the fibre that a fabric is made from also has numerous environmental and social impacts. It can be difficult to work out the best option when selecting a fibre. Introducing Fibre Focus, our fabric blog that breaks down the various impacts of a fibre from an environmental, social justice and design standpoint. It is important to also consider any potential impacts a fibre might have if it were to become more popular.

Design advantages :

  • Lightweight, but strong and durable
  • Absorbs and wicks away moisture from the wearer’s skin
  • Versatile fibre – some parts of the plant render a silk-like yarn, and other parts produce a yarn similar to hemp or linen
  • Versatile fabric – banana fabric has applications across many industries from gardening to fashion, to home wares to accessories
  • Has affinity with natural and synthetic dyes
  • Good surface to print on

Design disadvantages :

  • The external parts of the banana are comparatively coarse compared to the soft, inner fibres. Sometimes sodium hydroxide/lye/caustic soda is used to process the outer fibres
  • Banana fabric can be more expensive than similar fibres, for example silk, linen or hemp
  • Banana plants take a long time to grow. Some species can take up to 9 months to grow – whereas it takes 100 days for flax to grow from seed to fibre

Environmental impacts :

  • Banana fibre is natural, biodegradable and renewable
  • Banana fabric can be derived from banana farm byproducts. This avoids GHG emissions through waste incineration, and is an economical use of resources used to grow the bananas
  • Bananas also have many other uses in cosmetics, food, gardening and textiles
  • Banana trees need lots of water to grow compared to hemp and bamboo
    Animal and cruelty-free fibre
  • Banana peel can be used as a natural fertiliser in place of synthetic chemicals
  • The growing process of plants uses photosynthesis which improves air quality by removing CO2 and replacing it with oxygen
    Banana trees can grow without chemical intervention
  • Banana fibres can be hand processed – hand processing has no carbon emissions and pollutes no water

Social impacts :

  • Provides jobs, which generate income
  • The fruit is a nutritious and energy-rich food source
  • Hand processing reduces the need rural-urban migration for employment
  • Hand processing preserves a traditional handicraft that dates back to 13th century
  • Producers of banana fabric can enjoy uncontaminated water sources
  • Banana farmers can earn a second stream of income

Positive potential impacts :

  • Banana plantations could become more economical and use their resources to grow bananas for food, cosmetics, gardening, packaging and textiles
  • Decreased dependence on chemical companies for farmers and producers
  • Less non-biodegradable waste entering landfill
  • Preservation of land, water and soil quality
  • A wide range of fabrics on the market derived from the same plant – banana silk, banana linen, banana canvas etc

Negative potential impacts :

  • Job loss for chemical companies and other fibre sectors
  • Increased presence of sodium hydroxide in water sources, and therefore an increased risk of disruption to aquatic life
  • Increased use of fossil fuels and increased carbon emissions from importing/exporting bananas to nations where they do not grow naturally

So there you have it, a simple breakdown on banana’s various impacts that you can keep in mind when next buying, sourcing or designing.

Fibre Focus: Banana


More news


Geopolitical conflicts and their impact on trade

Trade disruptions wreak havoc on shipping's decarbonisation goals. With maritime routes under pressure from climate impact and geopolitical conflicts, costs soar, and carbon footprints expand. As companies navigate these challenges, finding sustainable solutions becomes paramount. Dr Sri Ram and Smruti Sriram share their experience on shipping goods from India to Europe.


Fill out the form, and we’ll send you an initial quote within two hours (Mon-Fri 09:00-17:30)