Natural cellulosic fibre.
A natural "bast" fibre obtained from flax plants, the fibre is often encountered as linen.
Recent developments in agronomy and processing mean that supplies of finer quality fibres are becoming available and finding use in blends with other cellulose fibres, both natural and regenerated.. Flax is a strong durable fibre.
Where it grows / Where it is made
Top countries (2018): Kazakhstan - Canada - Russia - China
Suits. Heavy weight fabrics such as suiting, lightweight fabrics for shirting are not readily available.
Impact on the environment
None if in its natural color / shade.
More sustainable alternatives
Linen is the most sustainable materials compare to other natural materials such as silk or cotton. But "Nobody's perfect".
Linen is already a sustainable material and has all the potential to be treated and manufactured in a sustainable way. But the certification of the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is a guarantee that it is made in a sustainable way following these points:
Linen can be grown without water, pesticides and chemicals however this does not exclude the fact that some people may use them. A certified organic linen item ensure that the growing process is pesticide-free.
One environmental concern regarding Linen is the chemicals used during the retting and grinding process. While the separation of the fiber from the woody materials was once done manually, today there are different chemicals such as Alkali and Oxalic that can help accelerate the process.
Linen has already some natural colors and does not need to be dyed. However, in the case of strong colors, the organic certification could ensure those are not toxic for the environment and your health
Textile fibers production, as well as agriculture, are industries that are notorious for their inhumane working conditions. Hopefully, as Linen can be produced everywhere, it is easier to find it locally. However, this does not guarantee workers are treated well. A certification such as GOTS or Fairtrade could ensure better conditions for the workers.
End of life possibilities
Can be disposed of using all end of life opportunities. A natural cellulose fibre that can be handled in the same way as other cellulose fibres. The fabrics may potentially be reused or re-manufactured and can also be used as a source of cellulose feedstock for regenerated cellulose products.
Being naturally biodegradable, the fibres can be composted if required.
Linen is one of the most sustainable options on the market—just be sure to purchase garments in its naturally occurring shades of ivory, ecru, tan, and grey, and especially avoid bright white linen which has to go through an intensive bleaching process.