Ecowiser

Much like art, fashion is a reflection of society. Climate consciousness is the most needed movement today, leading to the rise of sustainable fashion. It is a structure that stands on many pillars, such as transparency in business, ethical trade, fair labour policies, and, of course, sustainable material.

The key to knowing which fabric is the better choice is to be aware of what goes into making what you’re buying. The fine print on clothing labels helps us do that. Whether you are a business or a consumer of fashion, sustainable fabrics are the first obvious step towards sustainability.

In this article, we will walk you through the latest sustainable fabric trends. Allow us to be your guide on your conscious consumption journey.

Everything You Need to Know about Sustainable Fabrics

Sustainability In Fabrics

According to UNESCO.org, “Sustainability is a paradigm for thinking about the future in which environmental, societal and economic considerations are balanced in the pursuit of an improved quality of life.” Based on this, being eco-friendly isn’t the only factor to consider while choosing a sustainable fabric. Process of manufacturing and affordability are also key factors.

A good indicator of these qualities is certifications that are found on the labels. Here are a few certifications you can look out for:

Sustainability Certifications

BLUESIGN: Being one of the strictest certifications in textiles, Bluesign ensures keeping harmful chemicals out of the manufacturing process. Many outdoor brands, such as Patagonia, are Bluesign certified.

CRADLE TO CRADLE: An imitation of the Earth’s natural cycle. This certification ensures that throughout the production and at the end of a product’s life, all resources used are truly recyclable or can return to the source safely in direct or indirect form. This applies to raw materials, energy sources, water usage, and social fairness.

GOTS: Unifying standards across different countries and supply chains, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the most trusted standard across the world. We can find it on garments made of organic cotton, linen, hemp, etc. Currently, it certifies organic status for 70% of all textiles in the world.

OEKO-TEX: One of the best textile standards, the OEKO-TEX certifies that your garment is safe from toxic chemicals. This is especially useful for kid’s wear and nightwear.

FAIRTRADE: This certification tells us that the workers who made your clothes were paid fairly and had safe working conditions. The certified brands also contribute to community development.

Now that we have covered certifications, let’s discuss the different fabrics available out there.

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Top Sustainable Fabrics to Look For

Sustainable fabrics are made of sustainable fibers. With rapid advancements, we can extract fibers from different sources. Based on the source of origin, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to different sustainable fabrics:

Recycled Fabrics

1. RECYCLED POLYESTER (rPET)
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– Made by recycling old plastic bottles.

– This method requires fewer resources compared to the production of new polyester fibers.

– Significantly less CO2 is generated in the making.

– Infinitely recyclable.

Compared to virgin polyester, it’s more sustainable. But it is important to keep in mind that it is still non-biodegradable and releases microplastics into our oceans. The production is more expensive than virgin polyester, but emits fewer greenhouse gases!

2. RECYCLED NYLON
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– Same benefits as recycled polyester.

– Prevents waste from going to landfills and needs far fewer resources in the making compared to virgin nylon.

– A large part of recycled nylon comes from used fishing nets that otherwise would pollute the oceans.

While the production cost is higher than virgin nylon, the environmental advantages make it worthwhile.

3. RECYCLED COTTON
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– Helps prevent additional textile waste.

– Compared to organic and conventional cotton, it requires far fewer resources.

– Textile waste and old clothes, both are recyclable.

Recycling reduces the durability of cotton. Therefore, it is blended with new cotton to maintain quality.

4. RECYCLED WOOL
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– Recycling wool saves a huge amount of water, and land resources needed for rearing sheep.

– Diverts woolen clothes from ending up in landfills.

– Eliminates chemical usage for dyeing.

Recycling wool is good for conserving air, water, and land. There aren’t many labels certifying recycled wool apart from GRS (Global Recycled Standard).

Plant Based Fabrics

1. ORGANIC COTTON
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– Minus the negative impact of conventional cotton, organic cotton meets the same quality standards.

– Grown from non-GMO seeds.

– No use of pesticides, insecticides, or fertilizers, saving farmers from being exposed to toxic chemicals.

Usage of ancestral farming techniques, together with crop rotation, blended farming, or no-till farming, to hold the soil. Makes use of up to 71% much less water than conventional cotton.

2. LINEN
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– Extracted from the flax plant.

– Linen uses far fewer resources like water, pesticides, fertilizers, and energy compared to cotton or polyester.

Can also be grown on land that is unfit for food crops to grow and even rehabilitate polluted soil sometimes.

3. HEMP
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– Comes from a fast-growing plant called hemp, named after its source.

– Can be grown in the same place for years without depleting the soil quality.

– Doesn’t require many resources to grow.

Even though it is quite similar to Linen, it belongs to the same plant family as cannabis. Because of this reason, its farming is restricted in many countries.

4. STINGING NETTLE
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– Similar to linen, but not as popular.

– Urtica Dioica (source), is a widely found plant and easy to grow.

– Compared to cotton, acrylic, and nylon, it is far more sustainable in terms of resource utilization and biodegradability.

– Can be used in both winter and summer.

Like hemp, nettle requires far less water and pesticides but is completely legal to cultivate everywhere.

5. NATURAL RUBBER