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  • 19 SUSTAINABLE FABRICS FOR THE MOST ECO-FRIENDLY FASHION

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    September 03, 2021

    19 SUSTAINABLE FABRICS FOR THE MOST ECO-FRIENDLY FASHION

     

    What is the value of a label? When it comes to picking sustainable fabrics, what do we look for? Choosing sustainable materials is one of the first things we can do to make our wardrobes more eco-friendly, whether you're a clothing manufacturer or a fashion fan who doesn't like fashion's influence on the earth.

     

    However, there is still disagreement over which fabrics are sustainable. Is it always true that natural equals good and manufactured equal bad? What happens to our clothing when we wash them or throw them away?

     

    What is sustainable fashion?

    Clothing, shoes, and accessories created, marketed, and utilized in the most sustainable way possible, taking into account environmental and socioeconomic factors, are referred to as more sustainable fashion. In practice, this entails ongoing efforts to enhance all phases of the product's life cycle, from design to raw material production, manufacturing, transportation, storage, marketing, ultimate sale, and the product's usage, reuse, repair remake, and recycling.

     

    The goal should be to minimize any adverse environmental effects of the product's life cycle by:

    1. Ensuring efficient and careful utilization of natural resources (water, energy, land, soil, animals, plants, biodiversity, ecosystems, and so on).
    2. Select renewable energy sources (wind, solar, and so on) at every stage.
    3. Maximizing repair, remake, reuse, and recycling.

     

    From a socioeconomic standpoint, all stakeholders should enhance current working conditions for field workers, factory workers, transportation chain workers, and store workers by adhering to good ethics, best practices, and international standards of conduct. Fashion firms should also help to promote more sustainable purchasing habits, care and washing techniques, and overall attitudes toward fashion.

     

    What is sustainable clothing?

    Fabrics created from environmentally friendly resources, such as sustainably cultivated fibre crops or recycled materials, are sustainable apparel. It also refers to the process of creating these fabrics. Historically, being environmentally conscious about clothing meant:

    Caring for, repairing, and patching clothes.


    Inheriting and wearing hand-me-downs from one's extended family and community.

    Purchasing apparel from thrift stores or other shops that sell second-hand clothing.

    Donating used clothing to the previously mentioned shops for reuse or resale.

     

    Sustainable clothing has evolved in recent years to include (5) minimizing the amount of clothing that is overproduced, burnt, or abandoned to landfills, and (6) reducing the environmental impact of agrochemicals used in the production of conventional fibre crops, for example, cotton.

     

    The environment defines the "three pillars" of sustainability (earth, life)

    Recycled clothes adhere to the "Three R's of the Environment": Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, as well as the "Three Legs of Sustainability": Economics, Ecology, and Social Equity, in terms of sustainability.

     

    Why eco-friendly products?

    The sort of fabric used to produce your t-shirt or pair of environmentally friendly socks will influence how much environmental degradation it causes — and what measures can be utilized to rectify it.

    Consider this: fabric selection has a direct impact on raw material procurement (farming and petroleum drilling impacts), material processing (chemicals required to turn it into fibre), and end-of-life possibilities (can a garment be recycled or composted, for example).

     

    When it comes to pollution, the fashion sector is one of the most significant polluters.

    It not only pollutes, but the materials used to create the fabrics directly impact and contribute to water consumption, microplastic pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, soil deterioration, rainforest loss, and, finally, massive landfill waste.

     

    You wouldn't be incorrect if you assumed that ethical and ecological fashion begins with a cloth.

     

    On the plus side, eco-friendly textiles are relatively easy to come by (mainly) if you know where to search. And the brands that employ them are laying claim to a brighter future in fashion.

    One that is beneficial to both humans and the environment.

    With that in mind, we've compiled a list of some of the most environmentally friendly textiles being used by manufacturers to alter the game.

     

    Organic Cotton

    One of the most natural materials available is organic Cotton.

    It is cultivated and processed without any use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.

    Organic cotton production consumes 62 per cent less energy and 88 per cent less water than traditional cotton farming (which is, to the surprise of many, one of the single dirtiest crops around).

     

    Numerous certifications may be used with sustainable and ethical Cotton to ensure that it was a. grown without the use of chemicals or machine harvesting, and b. they were processed without the use of chemicals, resulting in a chemical-free final garment.

     

    Other relevant certifications ensure that farmers are paid fairly and have safe working conditions.

     

    Recycled Cotton

    Cotton is a ubiquitous and widely used fabric. This natural fibre is light and breathable, making it essential in any outfit. On the other hand, Cotton can be challenging to grow because it is one of the most water- and chemical-intensive crops. It necessitates the use of many pesticides, which has a harmful influence on the environment and the people who grow them. Organic Cotton, a more environmentally friendly alternative to conventional Cotton, has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. Its goal is to reduce the environmental effect of cotton production by eliminating hazardous pesticides and other chemicals from the process.

    To ensure good production standards, see if your organic Cotton is GOTS-certified.

     

    However, if you want the most environmentally friendly Cotton, use recycled. Cotton waste from the post-industrial and post-consumer sectors is used to make recycled or upcycled Cotton. According to the Higg Materials Sustainability Index, Recycled Cotton is a more sustainable option than both ordinary and organic Cotton. It can cut water and energy usage and keep cotton clothing out of landfills, which is why we consider it one of the most environmentally friendly fibres available.

     

    Organic hemp

    Hemp is one of the most environmentally friendly natural materials.

    It produces a lot of food, is good for the soil (due to a phytoremediation process), and requires a lot less water when compared to Cotton.

     

    What is it about hemp clothes that make our hearts race?

    It's regarded as a carbon-neutral raw material. It takes CO2 from the atmosphere and absorbs it.

    Hemp is slightly more expensive than other sustainable organic fabrics because it has many benefits (such as being naturally sun protective and antimicrobial) and is more challenging to grow. However, we may expect to see more of it in the future.

     

    Organic linen

    In terms of sustainability, linen is nearly equivalent to hemp.

    The textiles are also relatively light and airy. The only distinction? The flax plant is used to make linen.

    It only requires a small amount of fertilizer, pesticide, and irrigation to grow. However, unlike hemp, linen does not yield as much.

    Because of its widespread appeal and dependability, linen is a popular fabric for everything from linen clothes to linen sheets.

     

    Soya

    The sole protein fibre derived from soybean cake is Soy Protein Fiber (SPF). They have the same physical qualities as synthetic fibre. When mixed with different fibres, it significantly changes qualities such as smoothness/lustre/comfort/absorbency/strength/shrinkage. For example, when soybean fibres are mixed with cashmere, the result is a smooth quality with improved care properties. As a wool/soy protein fibre, it shrinks less and is easier to care for. It increases silk rates by preventing the fabric from clinging to the skin when wet as a silk blend.

     

    Corn

    Corn cloth is a novel concept in the realm of environmentally friendly textiles. The fabric represents the idea of employing corn-derived fermented plant sugars. Making plant sugar from maize is the first stage of production. The next step in line is to ferment the sugar in the same way that basic yoghurt is made. Polylactide, a high-performance polymer, is made from the residue left over after sugar fermentation. Polylactide is used to make fabric fibres.

     

    Lotus

    Lotus plants are pure by nature, and this purity is radiated via their fibres. Wearing clothes made of lotus fibres makes one feel calm, serene, and meditative. It also relieves headaches, heart problems, asthma, and lung problems in the wearer. Because the textiles are 100 per cent organic, they are eco-friendly.

     

    Banana

    What was formerly considered agricultural trash and a nuisance to farmers is now a high-quality silk-grade fibre yarn source.

    This is the tale of banana fibre. It's also known as Musa fibre, and it's one of the most durable natural fibres. This biodegradable natural fibre derived from the bark of the banana plant is so long-lasting that money notes made from it can be used for over a century. It can be used to create silk grade saris and in automotive tyres, for example.

     

    Banana stem, once regarded as a complete waste, is now being transformed into the banana-fibre fabric, which is available in various weights and thicknesses depending on which portion of the banana stem the fibre was extracted from. The softest fibres come from the innermost sheaths, whereas the thicker and sturdier fibres come from the outer ones.

     

    Milk

    Waste milk that isn't suited for human consumption is turned into novel fibres known as milk fibre or casein fibre. Milk fibre fabric is manufactured from a combination of casein protein from milk and acrylonitrile, the same chemical used to make acrylic. It can also be manufactured entirely of casein protein. Milk that has been discarded still contains rich nutrients and has a lot of technological potentials.

     

    Chemists can extract casein protein, similar to cheese, by combining an acid with milk. Casein is dissolved in a molasses-like liquid and pressed through spinnerets identical to macaroni. This is then hardened in a chemical bath, resulting in fibres. The resulting milk fibre fabric looks almost similar to wool.

     

    Rose

    Rose Petal Fiber, manufactured from rose petals, is another new 'vegan' spinning fibre. It's made from rose petals that have been left to decompose naturally. The fibre has been stripped and treated to produce a beautiful, silk-like spinning fibre.

    Because Rose Petal Fiber is incredibly delicate and slick, it must be spun with a tight twist.

    The most miniature whorl size wheel is used to create the fibre. Worsted spinning is done with a short forward draw, starting at the top of the fibre bundle and gently drawing out a small piece of fibre at a time while avoiding twisting the fibre bundle.

     

    If you ply these delicately spun rose petal fibre yarns, they will be even better. Plying takes a little longer, but it helps to make a stable and balanced yarn and will not stretch or rip apart.

     

    Aloevera

    Because it is so close to the flesh, this fabric is primarily utilized in inner clothing. It has additional functions, such as absorbing undesirable odours and giving anti-bacterial properties, in addition to keeping the body warm. They're used to make underwear, stockings, and other items. This will be more advantageous in the production of infant garments. Aloe vera-enriched clothing can now be worn by mothers to protect their infants from chaffing.

     

    Eucalyptus

    Tencel Lyocell is a substance made from eucalyptus. Eucalyptus tree pulp is used to make it.

    Eucalyptus Tencel is made entirely from the wood pulp of eucalyptus trees that have been certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council, and the fibre is approved by the Pan-European Forest Council (PEFC).

     

    The Lyocell technology used to manufacture eucalyptus is more benign and eco-friendly than the one used to make other semi-synthetic natural fibres, such as Viscous bamboo fabric.

    The eucalyptus wood is pulped and reduced down into a viscous cellulose solution that is pressed through spinnerets to manufacture Tencel Lyocell Eucalyptus garments. Tencel is a soft, lightweight, and breathable fabric made from the stringy fibres that come out of the nozzle.

     

    The non-toxic solvent amine oxide is the only chemical utilized in the Tencel production process, allowing closed-loop processing where up to 99 per cent of the chemical is continually reused, reducing environmental effects and conserving energy and water.

     

    Econyl

    Econyl is another recycled fabric that we adore. This fibre, developed by the Italian company Aquafil, takes synthetic trash from the ocean, such as industrial plastic, waste fabric, and fishing nets, and recycles and regenerates it into a new nylon yarn of the same quality as nylon.

     

    Compared to typical nylon production methods, this closed-loop regeneration system requires less water and produces less waste. Waste is collected, cleaned, and shredded before being depolymerized to remove nylon, polymerized, spun into yarn, and re-marketed as textile products. Econyl is a promising fibre that is significantly more environmentally friendly than nylon.

     

    Qmonos

    Spiders aren't only small (or, in Australia, giant) and occasionally terrifying arachnids; they're also a terrific source of sustainable design inspiration. In reality, Qmonos, synthetic spider silk made from the union of spider silk genes and microorganisms, was recently discovered. The fibre is up to five times stronger than steel, nature's strongest thread, while also incredibly light, more flexible than nylon, and completely biodegradable.

    Qmonos is a more ecological and ethical alternative to silk and nylon because no spiders are farmed or injured in the manufacturing process.

     

    Orange fabric

    A little-known fact about Italy is that there is a lot of citrus waste. It's only natural that designers in one of the world's most fashionable countries would embrace an environmental issue like this to improve the industry. Three students at the Polytechnic Institute of Milan have created an "orange fibre" material in reaction to the waste.

     

    The cloth is made of cellulose that has been derived from recycled fruit. While a cloth manufactured from food may appear weird at first look, the concept has environmental and social benefits and is beneficial to the fashion and textile industries.

     

    Coffee grounds

    After brewing their coffee, most coffee users just throw away the coffee grounds. It is, nonetheless, a significant raw ingredient for the production of coffee ground fibres. The method blends post-patented processed coffee ground with polymer to generate master batches before spinning into yarn. The resulting coffee yarn is multifunctional and can be used in a wide range of products, from outdoor and sports performance clothing to everyday domestic items.

     

    Fabrics manufactured from coffee grounds have outstanding natural anti-odour properties and UV protection, and a short drying time. Some of the world's largest coffee merchants, like Starbucks, Costa and Nescafe provide the coffee grounds required to make the yarn. In this approach, the company provides coffee grounds with a second life that would otherwise wind up in the trash. Coffee ground fibres, as we've seen, have numerous advantages. The task now is to take the fibre globally and ensure that more clothing brands use it instead of traditional materials in their collections and extend its reach outside the fashion business.

     

    Pineapple fabric

    Although the concept may seem absurd, there is a vegan alternative to leather created from pineapple leaves. Ananas Anam has created Piatex, a natural and nonwoven textile made from pineapple leaves that resembles leather. Pineapple fibres are made out of its leaves that are a by-product of the pineapple crop in the Philippines, are used to create the revolutionary pineapple fabric. The fibres are taken from the leaves via a process known as decortication. The fibres are then subsequently processed into a nonwoven textile, which serves as the foundation for Pinatex.

     

    Biomass is a by-product of the manufacturing process that is turned into organic fertilizer or bio-gas and used by farming communities, effectively closing the material's production loop.

    Pinatex is the culmination of years of research and development into a non-leather alternative, a new type of natural tissue that is both vegan and sustainable. It's also a durable yet versatile, breathable, soft, and flexible material that can be printed, sewn, and cut easily, making it ideal for a variety of fashion items. It has also received a number of accolades.

     

    Cupro

    Cupro is a cloth created from cotton waste that is referred to as "regenerated cellulose." It's created from the teeny-tiny silky cotton fibres known as a linter, which protrude from the cottonseed and are too small to spin. The linter is dissolved in a cuprammonium solution, which is a copper-ammonium solution, then put into caustic soda and spun into fibre. It is a plant-based substance that is chemically processed to make a fabric, similar to Tencel and Modal.

     

    It is supposed to offer all of the benefits of silk, including being silky-smooth and draped like opulent fabric.

    Upro is a recycled textile because it is a by-product of cotton manufacture. Cotton manufacturing is a wasteful and laborious process that uses a lot of water and chemicals when it isn't organic, as we all know. As a result, utilizing every part of the cotton plant reduces waste.

    Cupro is also vegan and cruelty-free because it is made from plants rather than silkworms. Plus, unlike silk, it can be machine washed, which is better for the environment than dry cleaning fragile silk clothing.

     

    Alpaca

    Alpaca is a natural fibre, but because of its long fibres, it is now widely recognized as more luxurious, lighter, softer, and warmer than its woollen cousin. It also has fewer pills than cashmere and is hypoallergenic due to the absence of oil or lanolin. Alpaca fibres are lightweight, breathable, and soft, not bulky or irritating, and while fine, they are also highly resilient. They naturally come in a range of 22 hues, ranging from black to greys, browns, and white. It comes in a variety of pricing points, making it a viable option for a wide range of consumers.

     

    Wearing alpaca is not only a wonderful decision for our wardrobes, but it is also a good choice for the environment. It is renewable, sustainable, and eco-friendly, unlike today's cashmere production, which is considered by some to be environmentally disastrous. Peru is home to 80 per cent of the world's alpaca population (almost 4 million animals), and the alpaca industry is a significant local sector that employs over 120,000 people. Its weaving is another traditional trade in which artisan hand knitting is mixed with contemporary technology, and the animals are not harmed during the process.

     

    Final thoughts

    It is always recommended that you research a brand before purchasing from it.

    Look for transparency and see if the brand is open about the fibres it uses, where are originated from, and how they're treated. When thinking about the sustainability of cloth, it's equally crucial to think about the working conditions and the production process. To guarantee you're making the most excellent ethical option, look for brands that are upfront and open. When in doubt, know that buying used is nearly always the most environmentally friendly alternative.

     

     


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