When looking at buying clothing and considering the fabric they’re made from, there are a few thoughts that typically come to the surface. How much does it cost? What will it feel like on my body? How will it fit? Will it wash well? And then the most important questions arise. Where did the fabric come from? And where will it go?
The last two questions may not have even been on your radar until recently, but we now know that understanding the life-cycle of our clothing is more important than ever. So, along with creating your capsule wardrobe, choosing high quality materials that have little effect on the environment during their production and going with fabrics that will sit well with nature down the line are essentially what supporting eco-friendly textiles is all about.
What are eco-friendly fabrics?
There’s no doubt that understanding all the details that go into defining eco friendly fabric production can be confusing. But the bottomline really comes down to two words. Environmental impact. Did it negatively affect the planet during production? And will it negatively affect the planet when it is washed or no longer used? Again, it’s all about that life-cycle.
5 eco-friendly fabrics we love:
The keyword here is organic. Without the use of GMO’s and other pesticides, cotton is a tried and true, natural fiber that has been used since the dawn of time for it’s soft and breathable qualities and biodegradable nature. While non-organic cotton farming makes up for a surprising percentage of the pesticides and water used around the world, choosing organic makes a huge difference in this fabric. It’s also softer, cleaner and is less likely to trigger allergies. Win win. Shop organic cotton looks here.
Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet, and because of its antibacterial properties, it grows really easily without the use of pesticides, needing less energy and water compared to many other plants used to make textiles. It’s also super soft and flowy, naturally protects against UV rays, and is thermal regulating, keeping you warm in cold climates and cool in warmer temps. It’s also biodegradable and one of nature’s most sustainable resources.
Made from beech tree pulp, modal is another plant based fabric that’s considered a more eco-friendly option since it’s production process doesn’t require much water and is made from regenerative plants, requiring fewer chemicals compared to other kinds of rayon fabrics. Although it is considered semi-synthetic due to the processes required to make it stretchy and water absorbent, it uses lower concentrations of chemicals than most fabrics of this kind. It’s also incredibly soft, cool to the touch, durable, doesn’t wrinkle or shrink, and absorbs water and sweat, making it ideal for active wear and athleisure.
Silk has been produced for clothing for centuries, with the earliest samples dating back to Egyptian tombs. Since it is a natural and highly renewable source, it has far less impact on the earth than many other fabrics. Silkworms eat mulberry leaves, which easily grow without any pesticides. It’s also fully biodegradable, handles moisture well and is one of the strongest natural fibers. Chiffon made from silk is more durable than chiffon made from alternative textiles like nylon or rayon. High quality equals a longer lifespan.
Linen is great because every part of the plant is used, nothing is wasted when turning it into a textile. It’s a natural fiber (comes from flax) and also requires minimal water and pesticides and is able to thrive in poor quality soil. It’s naturally antibacterial, light and moisture absorbent and fully biodegradable when untreated. It’s also one of the most durable textiles in the game. No wonder it’s another one of the oldest textiles in the garment industry.
There are many other fabrics that are friendly for the environment, and countless benefits for you and the rest of the world by feeling empowered to choose the right ones. Shop looks from fabrics made from eco-friendly textiles here.
Written by Ana Kleppe