Last Updated on April 29, 2021
There’s no better time than now to become more conscious about our choices and how they affect the environment, so why not start thinking more about your clothes and the fabrics they’re made from?
We only have nine years until the damage climate change has caused becomes irreversible – and, in case you haven’t heard, textile waste is a major contributor to this.
However not all garments and fabrics are created equal when it comes to sustainability. Here, we explain which fabrics are eco-friendly so you can make the right choices.
READ MORE: What is greenwashing?
What are eco-friendly fabrics?
Some parts of the production process, such as bleaching and dyeing, are detrimental to the environment.
Eco-friendly fabrics, on the other hand, are manufactured in ways that are not harmful to nature. These can also be textiles that are biodegradable and sustainable to make in every step of the supply chain — from the source to the distribution.
Which fabrics are eco-friendly?
The easiest way to find out which fabrics are eco-friendly?
Check the labels of the clothes you want to buy and see if they’re made from one of these.
Organic or recycled cotton
The cotton plant requires a lot of water and insecticide to grow, but you don’t need to swear off it altogether.
There are organic options, which don’t use harmful insecticides. Better yet, go for recycled cotton, which doesn’t go through the same production processes or use the same amount of resources.
Linen, a favourite for summertime clothing because of its lightweight and breathable quality, is 100% biodegradable if not dyed.
This eco-friendly fabric is made with flax plant, which doesn’t require much watering or any insecticide and can even grow in poor-quality soil.
TENCEL is a type of lyocell or light cellulose fabric made by dissolving wood pulp.
It’s produced through a closed-loop system, where the solvent is recycled so there’s less waste that goes to the environment.
It’s becoming more popular as an alternative to cotton and has been used in collections by Levi’s & H&M.
Hemp is one of the oldest fibers in the world and, unlike linen, it’s used for clothing across all seasons.
It’s eco-friendly, too. It doesn’t require much watering and even fertilises the soil it grows in.
Piñatex is made from a by-product of pineapple – the discarded leaves in particular – and is commonly used as an alternative to leather.
This eco-friendly fabric is also processed in a closed-loop system. Plus, the initial stage in its production provides income to pineapple farmers.