It’s 2019, Here Are the Sustainable Fabrics You Should Know About

By Nina van Boxtel | Lifestyle | 07/05/19

Though in today’s world fashion comes and goes, minds are changing and a lot of people start to think about their consumption, and the ways they can change their habits to have some kind of impact, however small, on the world. So do I. I have been thinking a lot about how I can make change(s) to my everyday life; buy less clothes, wash my clothes at 30 degrees and only when my washing basket is actually overflowing. Small steps for me, bigger steps for the climate!

While researching the ways I could make an impact I’ve come across some interesting information on sustainable fabrics we could use instead of the polluting kinds. They either can be made from sustainable forest management, don’t have to be washed often (and when they do it’s on 30 degrees) or is biodegradable.

Read on to discover which materials to ditch and which ones to switch to!

sustainable fabrics

4x Sustainable Fabrics to Spend Your Money On

Tencel (lyocell or modal)

Officially a fabric brand, it’s relatively new on the scene and made out of dissolving eucalyptus trees wood pulp. Might not sound the most attractive, but its antibacterial and moisture-sucking properties make it ideal for sportswear. The fabric’s production is FSC-certified (guaranteeing sustainable forest management). During production chemicals are needed however these can be recycled to minimise waste.

Brands to shop: ASOS, Marc O’Polo, Country Road, Esprit

BCI Cotton (or organic cotton)

Conventional cotton is one of the most polluting types of materials; it requires an enormous amount of water and energy and needs many chemicals to be turned from crop into fabric. The effects don’t end there - workers are often mistreated and presented with poor working conditions. Which is why I was so happy to hear of new initiatives such as the Better Cotton Initiative and the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Cotton! It’s harder for us as consumers to differentiate between regular and organic cotton, but definitely look out for certified organic labelling!

Brands to shop: Patagonia, Levi’s, adidas, Veja, Mara Hoffman

sustainable fabrics

Wool

Wool being a natural fiber we usually get from sheep and goats is one of the best sustainable fabrics! It’s washed only once in a while (or at least it should be) and at lower temperatures making it more environmentally friendly than other fabrics.  It’s natural, reusable and biodegradable. What else could you want?

Brands to shop: People Tree, Stella McCartney, Eileen Fisher, Mara Hoffman

Silk

A natural material which is made from protein fiber made from silk worms, it’s complicated to manufacture but it’s degradable. The manufacturing process still uses chemicals so if you can opt for organic silk, that would be even better! Though silk may be pricier it’s got plenty of benefits like a very cool feel on your skin, it’s lightweight and hypoallergenic.

Brands to shop: Silk Laundry

Related products

sustainable fabrics

3x Non Sustainable Fabrics to Ditch From Now On

Viscose

Made out of cellulose fiber, you’ll often see the fabric referred to interchangeably with artificial silk. Viscose’s fibers become curly and can shrink in the wash, which is why sometimes you’d wash a sweater and you’d find out it’s a smaller size all of a sudden. In its nature, Viscose isn’t actually that bad for the environment, it’s more that now the fabric is being used in mass fast-fashion, it’s produced cheaply using water, energy and chemicals which damages the environment and is bad for the workers.

Acrylic

Human-made, meaning a synthetic fiber made of polymer, used as a replacement or addition to wool. Acrylic is really one of the worst fabrics out there, as research has found that while washing items made of acrylic 730.000 small synthetic particles come loose. That’s 5 times more than polyester or cotton, and almost 1.5 times more than pure polyester. I mean.. with this information, who wouldn’t stay away from this fabric?

Polyester

You probably know this fabric as it’s one of the most popular material for fast fashion. It’s used so much because its fibers don’t curl and it’s easy to maintain. However, it’s man-made so not degradable at all. Its production needs twice as much water as cotton does and it uses harmful chemicals, which if released to the environment can cause real damage to our water and air, and so, to us.

sustainable fabrics

Don't feel bad if you can't just yet invest in more sustainable materials, it's okay! Small steps, remember? Use this little guide when you can!

See below a selection of my favourite eco-friendly, sustainable items. 

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