Given that I've had so many comments about the eco-fi felt, I thought I'd do a separate post about it. But first some eye-candy, check out those cuties in the Pedrosprout shop made from eco-fi felt. They have heaps of cute shoes, lovely!
What is eco-fi felt?
Eco-fi is a polyester fibre made by recycling used plastic bottles. Eco-fi felt therefore differs from regular acrylic felt (which is also synthetic, but not made from recycled materials) and also from wool felt (made from sheep!). Eco-fi felt is manufactured by the Kunin Group in the USA - visit here for some good information about the product and how it is made.
Eco-fi is only produced in the USA and most supply is from there. There are numerous big groups who supply (e.g. Feltorama) but I bought mine very reasonably from an Etsy seller (see kandcsupplies or GreenDepot) just to try it out and support the small guys.
I haven't seen any in my local stores in Australia (Spotlight and Lincraft). But I just googled it and it looks like Arbee are selling Kunin felt here, although they don't give details about what it is.
Edited to add: Michelle from Pedrosprout has pointed me to an Aussie supplier, The Thread Studio : http://www.thethreadstudio.com/. THANKS!!
Use and quality:
Eco-fi felt is machine washable, non-fraying and according to the manufacturers gets softer after each wash. Basically it is like any other felt and can be used for any textile application. Personally, I have limited experience with felt in general and have only just received my eco-fi, so I can't comment about using it, except to say that it is thick and durable to sew with.
Whether you want to use it or not will come down to your crafting priorities. Wool is generally superior for look and feel and is a natural fibre, but is not necessarily produced in a more sustainable way. Vegans, others concerned about animal exploitation and those with wool allergies are excited about eco-fi felt. See this article at Crafting a Green World for more (heated!) discussion.Personally, I just like the idea that some of the billions of empty drink bottles out there are being reused for good rather than evil. Upcycling, hurrah!