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Hemp Makes Love with Allo in Nepal

Ecotextile News is a business-to-business magazine dedicated to the production of sustainable fashion materials. Ready to ride the green waves with everyone else, they get pretty excited about innovative green fibers. Recently they announced a new project in Kathmandu on the production of nettle fibre.

The setting is the foothills of the Himalayas. Giant Nettle, a/k/a Allo in Nepal, is a plant that grows wild, – up to three meters (or 9.84 feet) in forests. Like hemp, the plants don’t require fertilizers or pesticides. Also like hemp, the plants prevent soil erosion. In fact hemp grows well in this region too.

That’s nice because blends are a big potential here. Silk and cotton are produced near Kathmandu as well. Pure or blended, – fabrics feel like linen and ramie, wick moisture away from the body, and keep the wearer temperature comfortable. Top that with naturally anti-bacterial and mold resistant claims.

Nettle-Allo textiles are not new to the European interior furnishings market. Think upholstery and carpet. Then in addition to fine shawls or the delicate nettle scarf as pictured, shirting and garments from dresses to coats are impressive. Historical items are fishing nets, ropes, mats, sacks, and bags.  The Allo slippers are trimmed with local angora.

Social responsibility brings a favorable attraction. Wild-harvested is as good as organic to anyone in the remote region. Whether yarn or finished product form, nettle provides income to local families. The plants grow between 1,200 and 3,000 meters, (which equates close to 4,000 and 9,850 foot altitudes).

Harvesting takes place after the rainy season, before flowering. Hands are covered to avoid those giant stingers and cut above the ground without disturbing the soil. The nettle then grows back with the next rains. Ah, sustainable! Yet ten days of work are required to make one kilogram (or about 2.2 pounds) of nettle yarn.

Wow, what’s about to change when you add technology? I think it’s coming without negative disruptions and hope readers will comment accordingly.

Related Posts:

Bamboo Fiber: Greenwash or Treasure?
Sustainable Designer Fabric Innovation
Innovative Earth Friendly Textiles Keep Getting Better

Written by Delia Montgomery

I am Delia, d/b/a Chic Eco on, and established myself as an eco fashion guru by learning "who makes what in the world of environmental fashion and design."

Enjoy reading some of my freelance writing about environmental design, fashion and art -- from both consumer and supplier perspectives. You may notice I focus most on individual eco designers, movers and shakers.

From sustainable fashion apparel to paint and flooring, discoveries are a rush. I get my kicks this way. I also offer sales representation of earth-friendly designed products for wholesale buyers. Retailers may take advantage of my services with factory-direct pricing. Spend less time sourcing and prevent green-washed purchases!

My other forte is connecting suppliers with business-to-business tools. Aspects of my business vary with consulting services while I'm proud to be the aide that embraces unique and innovative gigs.

I'm originally a Kentucky Blue Grass gal who relocated to Maui early 2006 and the tropical Puna District of Big Island, Hawaii late 2007. Walk the talk is my motto here.

Early 2009 I constructed a yurt home office in a semi-urban setting on a tiny lot. My water comes from the sky, contained in a catchment that's not likely to dry in this rain forest. The electric is designed for solar conversion. I grow about 30% of my food organically, compost, and recycle to the hilt. Permaculture with a full eco system is my gardening style.

In fact, gardening is my ultimate joy. I seek gigs like design, weeding and planting between other jobs. My love is Hawai'i which has more climate zones than any state. There are frequent earthquakes here, typically under a 3.0 magnitude, and I happen to dig the vibrations. It's a wonderful simple life in paradise. As I grow older and wiser, I become more and more grateful.

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