What is the most common material for making functional towels, such as travel towels, yoga towels, gym towels, or sports towels? That would unquestionably be Microfibre. This is typically a synthetic blend of Polyester and Polyamide. When it comes to buying, convenience of use is generally the top value consumers look for, and Microfibre delivers it well and often to a budget price as well.
Even though Microfibre brings increased convenience with features like being lightweight, fast drying, and absorbent (absorption can vary considerably depending on the quality, though), there are a few serious disadvantages that we cannot just ignore anymore. Microfibre production and the material itself can hardly be environmentally friendly with the currently existing technologies. It releases microplastics into the water both during the manufacturing process and its lifetime, and it seriously threatens marine life. Also, since the Microfibre towel goes smelly after a while, it is very common to add extra odour control treatment, which requires even more toxic chemicals.
What about Raw Silk? Raw Silk (also called Silk Noil) is a completely natural fabric and has similar great features as Microfibre. It is light to carry, quick to dry, and excellent in absorbing moisture with its natural hydrophilic properties. Then, what else makes this material ideal as a functional towel? More specifically, how can Raw Silk not only be functionally excellent but also a consciously smart material for making this product?
First, Raw Silk provides antimicrobial- and antibacterial coating by nature. It is possible thanks to Sericin which is one of the silk proteins silk cocoons are composed of. Sericin is the gummy substance that repels bacteria and fungus to keep the silkworm safe. When woven into a fabric, it prevents a build-up of odour-producing bacteria. Furthermore, it protects allergy-prone skin and can even provide a softening and moisturising effect on the skin. A towel made of Raw Silk can therefore be a skin-beneficial alternative for people with reactive/dry/delicate skin. In difference to Microfibre- or Cotton towels, no anti-odour treatment is necessary.
As mentioned, Raw Silk is a completely natural material and 100% biodegradable. (*Raw Silk Travel Towel by SHIN JARDBO is also OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100 certified). It is free from toxic substances and microplastic ending up in the oceans, and seamlessly goes back into nature’s cycle when its useful life ends. As for the production, Raw Silk is made from the leftovers in ordinary silk production. Thus, it contributes to zero-waste, and moreover, the required amount of water/energy/chemicals is much less than Microfibre or Cotton.
When looking at its use in everyday life, the towel is basically machine washable. But since it stays fresh for longer due to its quick drying and antibacterial (anti-odour) properties, it requires less washing than regular towels. This gives the possibility to reduce water and energy consumption.
While there might be no sure-fire fit towel material for everyone, there are a few simple things you can consider to make a cleverer choice: What functionality is expected from the towel? Is it going to be used for a long time? What values does it represent? Does it affect others and the planet positively or negatively?