Nettle Fabric Could Be Eco-Friendly Replacement for Cotton

Fabric made from stinging nettles could be the next big thing in eco-friendly fashion. The process of growing nettles is much gentler on the Earth than growing cotton, which generally entails high use of water and pesticides. (Almost a quarter of the world’s pesticides are sprayed on cotton plants.) In contrast, nettles don’t need much water or protection from pests, and they provide habitat for many insect species and small birds. While hemp and flax are also eco-friendly replacements for cotton, they produce rough fabric, whereas nettles, strangely enough, can be made into soft and silky fabrics. One Italian fashion house has perfected a nettle fabric, designed a line of nettle-fabric clothes, and lined up willing retailers around the world. It’s biggest problem: finding enough farmers to grow the nettles it needs.