It’s my first sustainable fashion related post of 2018 and I wanted to use this opportunity to introduce you to nine sustainable textiles you may or may not know. Next time you’re shopping for some sustainable styles, be sure to check the label for these fabrics.
Hemp is a versatile plant that has so many uses. That’s why hemp is known by some as the most useful plant known to man. It’s thought to be used in over 25,000 products to date. You can find hemp used in beauty products, lotions, diapers, and clothing. And according to truthabouthemp.org, hemp is the strongest fiber known to man. I’m sure you can understand why it would be great for making clothing.
Fish leather is a great alternative to other animal skins such as crocodile and snake, because the fish skins are by-products of the seafood industry. Skins that would otherwise be tossed as waste, gain new life as a wearable and durable leather product. There is also sustainable dying methods that allow for the leathers to take on a variety of colors.
Tencel or Lyocell
This trademarked fabric is made from wood pulp. It’s said to be more absorbent than cotton, smoother than silk, and more breathable than linen. Though the production of Tencel requires large of amount of chemical processing, the factories use what is called a closed-loop system. A closed-loop system allows for all of the chemicals and polluted water created in the process to be reused over and over. So the chemicals never enter the water supply or need to be disposed of.
Recycled polyester is a no-brainer in sustainable textiles. Companies are able to take used water bottles and old polyester garments process them and create new polyester fabrics. This keeps plastic out of our landfills and is a smart way of reusing waste.
Photo Credits: Alexandra K
Pinatex is a non-woven textile made from the leaves of pineapples. This is another textile made from the by-product of another industry, more specifically pineapple harvesting. It’s also a great sustainable textile because this new process allows for another income source for farmers who sell their left over pineapple leaves. It can vary in thickness and is very durable. Pinatex can be used for clothing, fashion accessories, and as a substitute for cow hide leather.
Organic cotton is cotton that hasn’t been produced using environmentally harmful pesticides. It’s a much better alternative to regular cotton. There are some challenges with Organic cotton. Because no pesticides are used, it grows in a much lower yield. So, products made with organic cotton tend to be pricier.
Alpaca is a fabric that is very similar to wool. It comes from Alpacas that are raised in countries in South America.Typically, in these regions, the animals are allowed to roam freely and live in humane conditions. Alpacas are also very easy on their environment. They graze on grass which they nibble from the ends. It’s said that because they don’t rip the grass from the root like sheep do, they allow for the grass to grow back and overgrazing is very rare.
Silk is centuries old fabric made from the production of silk worms. Many disagree with the methods of obtaining silk as it often involves the death of the worm that produced the silk cocoon. ‘Eri silk” and ‘Tussar silk’ are types of silk that allow for the worm to escape before the silk cocoon is boiled. Thus, this is a more ethical and sustainable silk practice.
Wool is a relatively sustainable textile. Most wool comes from sheep that are allowed to roam and graze freely and live happy lives. There are other sheep, like those used in Australia to make Merino wool who undergo a painful shearing process. You can always check the label to see where the wool was sourced. Avoid wool that was produced in Australia as they are the only country that practices mulesing, the painful hide trimming process.
This list should give you hope that the future of sustainable fashion is looking bright? Know of any new sustainable textiles on the horizon? Drop us a comment, we want to know!