What are sustainable fabrics?
Have you been curious to understand sustainability and what sustainable fabrics are? Well look no further, as I am going to break it down into quick digestible sections to help you along with understanding what is meant by sustainable fabrics.
Sustainable fabrics can be described as textiles from materials made from natural fibres or recycled from existing materials through eco-friendly manufacturing processes with the intention of having a minimal impact to the environment.
What are natural fibres and recycled materials?
Natural fibres are derived from plants or animals, examples of this are cotton, hemp, linen, wool and silk.
Recycled materials are made from existing waste materials such as plastic bottles or textile waste.
Why are sustainable fabrics important?
By using sustainable fabrics it will help to reduce carbon emissions and water from the production process because it is done in a more eco-friendly way as harmful chemicals, pesticides and synthetic fertilisers are not used.
Other reasons why sustainable fabrics are important in addition to reducing the impact on the environment:
- Sustainable fabrics tend to be biodegradable.
- By using sustainable fabrics, you reduce waste especially with the current pressure on landfills.
- It provides a fairer working environment for workers. Surprisingly, sustainable fabrics can benefit the working conditions for workers in the garment trade. This is because using eco-friendly fabrics and garments advocates for appropriate and a fair working environment for all.
- It encourages recycling, up-cycling and extending the life of existing fabrics.
The aim of using eco-friendly fabrics is to support sustainability, with the aim to exist in harmony on earth without exhausting all our natural resources or further harming our environment. By focusing on sustainability we are extending the life of our planet and ensuring a fair and safe environment for future generations.
What fabrics are the most sustainable?
Made from seed fibres grown with little or no agricultural chemicals such as synthetic pesticides or fertilisers and have not been genetically modified.
Made from a sustainable fibre called flax which can be grown quickly and easily. Linen is extremely popular because it is resistant to insects and pests, it is biodegradable and breathable making it great for summer months.
A natural plant fibre which is fast-growing and requires minimal chemical inputs and a small quantity of water. It can be blended with other materials and it is breathable and cool to wear during the summer months. An additional benefit includes being biodegradable and renewable.
A natural fibre, it is extracted from the pulp of bamboo plants and It is biodegradable and renewable. Another benefit includes having antibacterial properties and being breathable making it great for summer.
Made from renewable raw materials and manufactured using an environmentally responsible production process. These are certified bio-based fibres, and they are certified because they can be compostable and biodegradable, so better and safer for the environment.
A man made material, cellulose fibres are derived from wood pulp, making it a good sustainable fabric due to its production process.
What does OEKO-TEX® mean?
OEKO-TEX® is an independent testing and certification standard, what it effectively means is that the production process on the certified products have been tested for harmful substances to protect the health of the person wearing these products and the environment.
What fabrics are the least sustainable?
The most common fabrics that fall under this category are listed below. The main reasons are they are not biodegradable and the process to manufacture them involves an extensive use of chemicals.
How can you be sustainable with fabrics?
I think you can do the following to help be more sustainable:
- Purchase fabrics only when required
- Maximise the fabric, utilise the scraps (their numerous things the scrap fabrics can be used for, i.e. bias binding, combine the scraps to make something else)
- Up-cycle existing clothing with fabric purchases to create new items of clothing
I hope you have found the above information helpful. There are numerous websites out there to provide further reading and guidance on the topic of sustainability, fabrics and fashion.
Where can I buy sustainable fabrics?
You will find there are numerous independent fabric stores selling various eco-friendly fabrics to suit all budgets. Lush Cloth does offer a selection of sustainable fabrics and the aim is to increase the collection. Do head to the sustainable fabrics section on the website to take a look at what is available.