Banana fibers, classified under the category of bast fibers, are derived from the stem of the banana tree.1,2 These fibers were first used in Japan in the early thirteenth century to create textiles.1
Banana fiber is used for a variety of purposes, such as producing rope, paper for currency, packing cloth and much more.3 Due to its numerous positive qualities including durability, strength, tear resistance and overall flexibility, this natural fiber is highly suitable for textile production purposes.2,4
The thickness of banana fiber determines the type of textile to be produced.1 Banana fiber is sometimes used as an alternative to silk or cotton due to its soft quality and luster, and it is also commonly combined with cotton and/or synthetic fibers to produce blended fabrics.3,4
Bananas are harvested only once a year, and this accounts for more than one billion tonnes of banana tree stems discarded annually. Therefore, the use of banana fibers in textile manufacturing works to subvert and re-purpose this yearly waste.
While the 37 kilograms of raw material required to manufacture one kilogram of banana fiber fabric may seem excessive, this is significantly lower in comparison to the volume of raw material required to produce the same amount of cotton fabric.5
A number of methods can be used to extract banana fibers, such as mechanical, biological or chemical methods can.3 Ideally, the chemical extraction method should be avoided as this can result in adverse impacts on the environment as well as population health.3 Nonetheless, sustainable sourcing and the biodegradability and non-toxic nature of banana fiber supports its position as a more suitable alternative to many commonly used traditional fibers, materials and fabrics.1
To learn more about banana fiber and the process involved in converting banana fibers into fabric, please refer to the following video presented by Textile TV show:
- Hendriksz, V. (2017, August 28). Sustainable textile innovations: Banana fibres. Fashion United. Retrieved from: https://fashionunited.uk/news/fashion/sustainable-textile-innovations-banana-fibre/2017082825623#:~:text=Banana%20fibre%2C%20also%20known%20as,tree%20and%20is%20incredibly%20durable.&text=Banana%20fibre%20is%20similar%20to,are%20said%20to%20be%20better.
- The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (n.d.). Bast fibre. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from: https://www.britannica.com/technology/bast-fiber
- Textile School. (2018, March 27). Banana fibers – Natural plant/bast fibers. Retrieved from: https://www.textileschool.com/131/banana-fibers-natural-plant-bast-fibers/
- Made Trade. (2019, August 19). Behind the fiber: Transforming banana tree waste into fabric. Retrieved from: https://medium.com/@madetrade/behind-the-fiber-transforming-banana-tree-waste-into-fabric-a33eb343d298
- Sumit. (2019, December 13). #FantasticFibres: Going bananas. Green Story. Retrieved from: https://greenstory.ca/blog/fantasticfibres-banana-fibre-ecofabric/