The textile industry has historically been known to cause significant harm to the environment. As we become more conscious of its environmental impact, we demand more eco-friendly fabric options, pushing the industry for a remarkable transformation.
Knowing what materials make up our clothes can help us make better choices for a more sustainable world. It is time to explore the most eco-friendly fabrics available on the market.
Whether you're into fashion or want to make eco-conscious decisions, this guide will give you the knowledge to embrace sustainability in your wardrobe.
What Makes a Fabric Sustainable?
Sustainable fabrics are made with a focus on minimising their harmful environmental impact. This is achieved by reducing the ecological footprint associated with their production and throughout their lifecycle. These fabrics are developed while considering the importance of preserving natural resources for future generations.
Several key factors contribute to a fabric's sustainability:
- The production process: sustainable fabrics typically use less water and energy and involve fewer harmful chemicals.
- The environmental impact: including how the cultivation and processing of the material affect biodiversity and soil health.
- Resource usage: focusing on renewable sources that can be replenished quickly without depleting the earth's resources.
- The lifespan of the fabric: sustainable fabrics are often more durable and can be recycled or biodegraded at the end of their life, thereby reducing waste.
Top Sustainable Fabrics:
Here are some examples of sustainable fabrics you can find on the market:
It is an excellent environmentally friendly choice because Alpacas are eco-friendly animals with soft hooves that reduce soil erosion. Their efficient grazing habits minimise damage caused to grasslands. Alpaca wool requires less water, is renewable, and has excellent thermal properties.
Pros: Hypoallergenic, soft, comfortable, thermal insulation, biodegradable and durable.
Cons: Limited production, it might be a little bit pricey.
It is a fast-growing plant that doesn’t require fertilisers or pesticides and needs very little water. However, the sustainability of bamboo fabric depends on the processing method; the chemical process of converting bamboo into fabric can harm the environment, so it’s essential to look for bamboo fabrics made through eco-friendly mechanical processes.
Pros: Soft, breathable, and has antibacterial properties.
Cons: Not always sustainable, depending on the production process.
It is made from the fibres of the flax plant, which can grow in poor soil conditions and requires far less water than cotton. The production process involves low energy and water and minimal chemical use due to flax's natural resistance to pests and diseases, reducing the need for chemical treatments and making it a more environmentally friendly option.
Pros: Biodegradable, recyclable and strong.
Cons: It wrinkles easily, can be expensive, and the rough texture of linen may not appeal to everyone.
It is a safer and more sustainable alternative to conventional cotton. It is grown without harmful pesticides, making it better for the environment, farmers, and consumers. Plus, organic cotton farms rely on rainwater, using less water overall.
Pros: Breathable, soft, and stretchy.
Cons: It still consumes a lot of water but is usually less than conventional cotton.
It requires minimal water, grows quickly, and doesn’t need pesticides or herbicides. Hemp cultivation also benefits the soil health, as it replenishes vital nutrients. It is essential to mention that it can be produced using the viscose method, which involves many chemicals, and in this case, it is often labelled as "hemp viscose." Also, it requires a special license to grow due to its association with marijuana.
Pros: Durable, absorbent, breathable and become softer with use
Cons: Production is still relatively limited, affecting its availability and price.
Tencel ™ Lyocell
Tencel™, a brand name for lyocell, is made from sustainably sourced wood pulp, typically eucalyptus, beech, or spruce that are sourced sustainably. It's produced in a closed-loop system that recycles almost all water and solvents.
Pros: Soft, breathable, and less prone to wrinkles.
Cons: Expensive due to its complex manufacturing process.
Facts on sustainable fabrics and the environment
The sustainability of these fabrics depends on various factors, such as the source of raw materials, the production process, and the end-of-life options. They require less water in the growing and manufacturing processes and involve fewer hazardous chemicals and pesticides, reducing pollution. Furthermore, eco-friendly fabrics are often durable and recyclable, generating less waste.
By choosing sustainable materials, we support practices that protect our planet, ensuring a healthier environment and a sustainable future.
If we want to support the change and create a more sustainable future, our choices regarding our wardrobes are vital. Each eco-friendly decision helps reduce our impact on the planet and participate in the transformative movement for a greener and more responsible fashion industry.
The future of fashion is sustainable and starts with us, one garment at a time.