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Eco friendly fabrics leave small footprint

Aug 7th, 2014 | By | Category: Latest News, News

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ECO INSPIRED: Owhiro Bay’s Anthea Grob shows off her pollinator design and organic cotton tee with origami sleeves. IMAGE: Hayley Gastmeier

CONCERN for the wellbeing of the world we live in has prompted a Wellington woman to design an eco-friendly range of fabrics for home wares and clothing.

Anthea Grob of  Ecofabric, has her own designs printed onto organic fabrics, and then uses them for clothing, cushions, curtains, couches, and lampshades.

“I make designs on organic fabrics so at the end of its life time, it can go back to being compost and grow new life instead of making landfill.”

She uses a range of plant based fabrics like organic cotton and hemp.

Hemp is a strong fabric and doesn’t fall to bits under New Zealand’s harsh UV light, and it’s naturally flame proof and grows really fast without any chemicals.

Anthea says her designs are printed  digitally with inks and dyes.

“I was aware of some of the issues of dyes and finishes on fabrics and how they were harmful,” she says.

Digital printing causes minimal amounts of damage to waterways.

Also making sure nobody is harmed in the process of the fabric being made is another reason why she’s chosen an environment friendly approach.

One third of the world’s cotton is being picked by children, and cotton is only two percent of the world’s agricultural production, but uses 17% of the world’s herbicide and pesticide, she says.

Synthetic fertilizers are also heavily used in cotton production.

“A maximum of 49% gets to the plant roots, the rest washes off into the rivers then into the ocean, causing ‘dead zones’ and killing aquatic life,” she says.

Places like Uzbekistan, where a lot of cotton is grown, have lost their fishing industries and have a much higher rate of birth deformities than the rest of the world, Anthea says.

All of her designs are hand drawn and inspired by nature.

The owls were sketches of real birds, and her godwit fabric was of an actual bird tracked flying non-stop from the Arctic Circle to New Zealand.

Her pollinator series includes the New Zealand forest ringlet butterfly, which was able to be seen in Eastbourne recently but not anymore, she says.

“I’m 53 and species are dying out. We have lost half of the species we had when I was born.”

The taniwha design is based on a picture drawn by her daughter.

Anthea learned to draft patterns from her father who was a tailor.

After leaving school she worked for the environmental centre.

Anthea Grob says her customers include biologists and zoologists.

They’re after eco-friendly things because they realize how important it is, she says.

“Anything that is bad for us is bad for the environment.”

For more information visit Anthea’s website: www.ecofabric.co.nz

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IMAGE: Hayley Gastmeier

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