Is jute better than cotton and paper?

Is jute better than cotton and paper?

Composites containing natural materials such as jute, cotton and paper enjoy a mainstream reputation of being environment friendly and sustainable. However, as these options become more common for the buyers, we are faced with yet another challenge to answer the following question.

Which one of these 3 is an optimal choice and has the least impact on environment?

To answer this question, let’s dive deeper into their production and overall environmental impact.

Around 90% of paper is produced from wood harvested from timber forests. Timber is no doubt a renewable resource, but trees take decades to grow mature and harvestable wood. Moreover, from an environmental management point of view, forests play a key role in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. In addition, cutting trees result in the loss of biodiversity. Sustainable management of forests for paper and pulp industry is an ongoing debate all over the world.

With an increasing concern about climate change, scientists are recommending curtailing timber harvesting. Using biodegradable paper, at the cost of wildlife habitats, does that sound like an ethical thing to do?

However, we are still left with two options to assess.

Cotton is one of the most pest-prone crops and hungry for fertilizers and pesticides. Intensive application of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides results in the pollution of natural waters and eventually harm the plant and human life. On top of this, cotton industry is addicted to nitrogen fertilizers that disseminate nitrous oxide. N2O which is a potent greenhouse gas. This makes cotton farming a major driver of climate change. In short, cotton fabric, though degradable, poses harm to the environment in several different ways. Therefore, as an ethical consumer we are left with the last choice i.e., jute.

Jute fiber is obtained from the bark of a fibrous tall plant. It is grown traditionally and cultivated in similar conditions to organic farming. Famous as the “golden fiber” jute has a characteristic brown color. Once it has been harvested, fibers are spun into durable threads. It is also known as the fabric burlap. It has a history of being versatile so much so that it can mimic silk, wool, cotton, and heavy-duty twines used in ropes and industrial applications.

Jute is undeniably more eco-friendly than cotton as it can be grown without the use of chemical fertilizer, harsh pesticides, and irrigation. Therefore, it is good for the land and deemed as a sustainable and profitable crop for fiber production. The jute plant absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen at a rate several times higher than trees. One hectare of jute plants can absorb around 15 tons of CO2 and release 11 tons of O2 during an average jute season (Korol et al., 2020).

Comparative Analysis:

Jute has more tensile strength than cotton and can be used to make a variety of products. Jute is also more durable and can be reused several times in comparison to both paper and cotton. In terms of being ecofriendly, jute takes a lead.

In light of the above-mentioned facts, jute takes a lead in being eco-friendly, tensile strength and durability.


Korol, J., Hejna, A., Burchart-Korol, D., & Wachowicz, J. (2020). Comparative analysis of carbon, ecological, and water footprints of polypropylene-based composites filled with cotton, jute and kenaf fibers. Materials, 13(16).
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