Planet vs Plastics: a buyer's guide to natural blankets

Planet vs Plastics: a buyer's guide to natural blankets

Planet vs Plastics: a buyer's guide to natural blankets

As Earth Day approaches on 22nd April 2024, with its poignant theme of 'Planet vs Plastics,' it's a timely moment to reflect on the textile materials we use to make our blankets. At The British Blanket Company, we've made a commitment to making blankets from natural fibres and shunning synthetics. But why?

In honour of Earth Day 2024, this blog will delve into our passion for natural fibres, exploring the eco-friendly and warming benefits of wool and our upcoming collections in cotton, alpaca, and cashmere. Natural blankets are more comforting to wrap up in, while also helping to preserve our precious planet.

two sheep on a hillside one brown and one white lamb
As long as there is grass to eat and water to drink, sheep naturally grow a beautiful new fleece every year, making wool one of the most naturally sustainable fibres

Wool: A Renewable Comfort

Wool stands out for its incredible properties: it's renewable, biodegradable, and inherently insulating. Sheep's wool, in particular, is a marvel of nature, offering warmth without the weight. It has the unique ability to regulate temperature, keeping you warm in winter and cool in summer. Wool's breathability and moisture-wicking properties make wool an ideal choice for blankets and scarves, offering a comfort that synthetic fibres can't match.

Additionally, wool production supports pastoral farming practices that can be part of regenerative agriculture. At the end of its life as a blanket, wool can be recycled and, if it is thrown away, it biodegrades completely in a short time adding beneficial nutrients to the soil.

cotton growing in a field
Cotton is soft, breathable and practical to live with, but it takes a lot of water and pesticides to grow. Opt for organic or recycled cotton which is gentler to the environment


Cotton: Softness and Sustainability

Cotton, especially when recycled or organically grown, is an eco-friendly fabric choice. Organic cotton is grown without harmful pesticides or synthetic fertilisers, reducing its environmental footprint. Recycled cotton goes a step further, repurposing existing materials and significantly lowering water usage and carbon emissions.

The fibre is known for its softness and breathability, making cotton blankets perfect for year-round comfort. Plus, cotton is easy to wash and any shed fibres will biodegrade.

several alpaca in a field with a white one looking towards you
Alpacas are members of the camel family and were domesticated by people in the Peruvian Andes more than 6,000 years ago

Alpaca: Luxurious and Hypoallergenic

Alpaca fibre is a luxurious alternative known for its softness, strength, and hypoallergenic properties. The fibres are even longer and finer than wool, making it ideal for lightweight, blankets that offer exceptional softness without pilling. Alpaca is also free from lanolin, which means alpaca blankets are suitable for people with sensitivities to sheep's wool. 

Alpaca farming has a lower environmental impact, as these animals have padded feet instead of hooves, so they don't damage the ground as much as goats and sheep. This makes alpaca is increasing in popularity as a sustainable alternative to cashmere that is gentler on the environment. 

a cashmere goat with long horns
Cashmere goats have an incredibly soft undercoat and their fibre is highly-prized


Cashmere: The Cost of Luxury

Cashmere is combed from the undercoat of cashmere goats and is renowned for its softness, warmth, and lightweight feel. Pure cashmere textiles are very expensive, so most cashmere blankets are made from yarns that blend cashmere with another fibre, such as merino lambswool.

Cashmere comes with some drawbacks, particularly on environmental, social and animal welfare grounds. Increasing cashmere goat herd numbers are degrading the areas in which they graze. Certified (GCS or SFA) or recycled cashmere is a more sustainable choice.

plastic pollution in the sea
Microplastics can easily mistaken as food by marine life. The smaller the microplastic particles, the more species that can ingest them


Synthetic Fibres: Petroleum and Microplastics

While synthetic fibres like polyester and acrylic might offer convenience and cost-effectiveness, they come with significant environmental drawbacks. These petroleum-based fibres contribute to the world's plastic problem, releasing microplastics into our oceans with every wash. Moreover, their production is energy-intensive, emitting substantial amounts of greenhouse gases.

Beyond their environmental impact, synthetic blankets often lack the breathability and natural comfort of their organic counterparts, leading to less restful sleep and discomfort.

colourful fabric
Recycled polyester is not the eco-friendly solution to fast fashion's problems that it's often claimed to be

Recycled Polyester: The Hidden Pitfalls

Although PET recycled polyester is often hailed by the fashion industry as eco-friendly because it uses recycled plastic bottles, its benefits are superficial. Recycled polyester is non-biodegradable and contributes to environmental pollution over its lifecycle. Moreover, it sheds even more microplastics during washing as recycled fabrics have shorter fibres, which pollute oceans and affect marine life. While a plastic bottle could be recycled into a new container several times over, they are instead shredded into thousands of tiny particles in making recycled polyester

From a comfort standpoint, recycled polyester lacks the breathability and moisture-wicking properties of natural fibres, leading to potential discomfort in warmer conditions. While it reduces dependency on virgin resources, recycled polyester still perpetuates plastic use and offers a less satisfying tactile experience compared to natural fibres.

smiling woman in a bed with wool pink and green blankets from The British Blanket Company
For beautiful natural blankets, look no further than The British Blanket Company. We are committed to offering the best quality natural fibre blankets that balance style, comfort and sustainability

The British Blanket Company: The Home of Naturally Beautiful Blankets

This Earth Day, as we champion the theme of 'Planet vs Plastics,' let's commit to choices that cherish and protect our natural world. Here at The British Blanket Company we believe in the beauty and responsibility of using natural fibres. By choosing wool, cotton, alpaca, or cashmere, we not only embrace the earth's natural gifts but also contribute to a sustainable future. Let's wrap ourselves in the warmth and luxury of nature, knowing that we're making a choice that benefits our planet and our comfort.

The advantages of natural fibres extend beyond their tactile and thermal properties; they represent a commitment to environmental sustainability and ethical production. As we celebrate Earth Day, let's make conscious choices that align with the preservation of our planet, favouring materials that offer warmth, comfort, and a promise for a greener tomorrow.

Shop natural blankets at The British Blanket Company's online shop