Justifying Jute

bio-degradable jute gift bagJute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. "Jute" is the name of the plant or fiber that is used to make burlap, hessian or gunny cloth. The best source of jute in the world is the Bengal Delta Plain in the Ganges Delta, most of which is occupied by Bangladesh.

Jute fiber is extracted from retted (soaked in water to soften) stem of jute plants.
Jute has low pesticide and fertilizer needs. It is the cheapest vegetable fiber procured from the bast (fibrous material) or skin of a plant's stem.

It is the second most important vegetable fiber after cotton, in terms of usage, global consumption, production, availability and versatility. Jute is one of the most affordable natural fibers in existence. Jute fibers are composed primarily of the plant materials cellulose and lignin. The industrial term for jute fiber is raw jute. The fibers are off-white to brown, and 1–4 meters (3–13 feet) long. Jute is also called the golden fiber for its color and high cash value.

It has high tensile strength, low extensibility, and ensures better breathability of fabrics. Therefore, jute is very suitable in agricultural commodity bulk packaging. Top quality industrial yarn, fabric, net, and sacks can be made from jute. It can be used in raw materials for packaging, textiles, non-textile, construction, and agricultural sectors. When blended as a ternary blend, breaking tenacity and an increased breaking extensibility can be achieved.

Jute is used in the manufacture of a number of fabrics such as
Hessian cloth - bags, wrappers, wall-coverings, upholstery, home furnishing
Sacking - made from heavy jute fibers used for making sacks
Scrim - strong, coarse fabric used as backcloth
Carpet backing cloth -CBC

Diversified jute products are becoming more and more valuable to the consumer today. Among these are espadrilles, soft sweaters and cardigans, floor coverings, curtains, chair coverings, carpets, area rugs, high performance technical textiles, geotextiles and composites. They are also being be used in cosmetics, medicine and paints.

Where high performance technical textiles are required, jute fits the bill perfectly.
Its UV protection, sound and heat insulation, low thermal conduction and anti-static properties make it a wise choice in home décor. Fabrics made of jute fibers are carbon-dioxide neutral and naturally decomposable.

Making twine, rope, and matting are among its uses. Jute butts, the coarse ends of the plants, are used to make inexpensive cloth. Very fine threads of jute can be separated out and made into imitation silk. Jute is in great demand due to its cheapness, softness, length, luster and uniformity of its fiber. It is called the 'brown paper bag' as it is also used to store rice, wheat, grains, etc.

Jute fibers are also being used to make pulp and paper as there is increasing concern over forest destruction. Jute is also used to make ghillie suits, which are used as camouflage and resemble grasses or brush. Stalks are also being dehydrated under the sun to be used as fuel.

Jute can be grown in 4–6 months. Cellulose from the jute hurd (inner woody core or parenchyma – functional tissue - of the jute stem) can be used to replace wood. Jute is the major crop among others that is able to protect deforestation caused by industrialization.

Geotextile, a lightly woven fabric made from natural fibers - is a commodity used in the agricultural sector. It also aids in soil erosion control, seed protection, weed control. It is also used in landscaping. Geotextiles can be used for more than a year and when left to rot on the ground, biodegradable jute helps in keeping the ground cool while making land more fertile.

Jute is an environment-friendly fiber starting from the seed to expired fiber, as the expired fibers can be recycled more than once. Jute bags are 100% biodegradable, recyclable and eco-friendly. Thus they are a good substitute for polythene bags which cause irrevocable harm to the environment.

Other characteristics of jute are:
Good insulation
Good antistatic properties
Low thermal conductivity
Good acoustic insulation

Jute has the ability to be blended with other fibers, both synthetic and natural. It accepts cellulose based dyes - natural, basic, vat, sulfur, reactive, and pigment. Jute can also be blended with wool. With caustic soda, the properties like crimp, softness, pliability, and appearance is improved. This helps in its ability to be spun with wool. With liquid ammonia also, the above properties can be achieved. Treatment with flame proof agents can improve flame resistance.

Jute becomes subject to microbial attack in humid and wet climates. Jute can be processed with an enzyme in order to reduce some of its brittleness and stiffness. Once treated with an enzyme, jute readily accepts natural dyes. Jute also responds well to reactive dyeing. This process is very beneficial since bright and fast colored value-added diversified products made from jute.

Some noted disadvantages are:
Poor draping nature
Crease resistance
Fiber shedding
Yellowing in sunlight
However, modern technology of preparation of fabrics with castor oil lubricants result in less yellowing and less fabric weight loss, as well as increased dyeing brilliance.

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