Today, there is no doubt that synthetic fabrics or non-organic cotton are bad for the environment and bad for our bodies too.
These materials have negative effects during their production, use and after they are discarded. Here are some of the best alternatives to synthetic fibres and a first choice among eco-friendly clothing brands.
Hemp is a lightweight fabric that is also comfortable and durable. It is resistant to mildew, mould, and UV and feels like linen. Hemp is typically grown in a way that does not require fertilizers, pesticides or modified seeds. It is amongst the most low impact textiles because it actually enriches the soil. This is definitely a good choice of fibre not only for the slow fashion movement but also for the farmers who grow it.
Also known as pineapple leather, Pinatex is a fibre made from layered pineapple leaves which are industrially processed. Biomass is the major by-product of this process and it can be transformed to be used as fertilizer. The end product feels like canvas but it can be further treated to produce a textile that looks like leather, which can then be dyed and printed. This textile supports ethical fashion because does not require extra use of land, water, fertilizers or pesticides given that it is made from a waste product.
Certified organic cotton does not require fertilizers and is whitened using nontoxic processes. This textile is soft to the touch and is more durable than conventional cottons. Fair trade clothing brands choose organic cotton because the growth and cultivation of certified organic cotton primarily involves adherence to fair trade standards for workers. Cotton that is not grown organically requires massive amounts of water, fertilizer, pesticide and dyes, all of which have a high impact on the environment, health and can take a financial toll on farmers.
Tencel, also known as Lyocell is a type of fibre made from eucalyptus trees that are sustainably grown. The fibre is processed using non-toxic solutions that are wholly reused and reclaimed so none of the solution remains as a residue on the fibre. Tencel is versatile and can be further processed to feel like denim, silk, suede and even a stretchy spandex-like material. This fabric is anti-static, absorbent, anti-bacterial, hypoallergenic, and temperature regulating.
Jute fabric is extract and processed from vegetable fiber jute. Specifically, it is extracted from plants in the Chorchorus genus. In addition to being a high value cash crop, the jute fiber is reasonably affordable to grow. No expensive fertilizers, pesticides, or irrigation is required. The crop mostly grows in monsoon climates where it is rain-fed. The final product is shiny and soft and can resemble cotton, silk or wool. The fiber is also extremely durable, antistatic, breathable, insulating and the best part is that it is biodegradable.
Bamboo regenerates naturally and is completely biodegradable. Bamboo is extracted and processed into yarn simply by crashing the plant and using natural enzymes which ease the process of mechanically combing out the fibers from the plant. No chemicals are used to produce bamboo linen, which as a final product feels like a silky cashmere. The fabric is hypoallergenic, insulating, anti-microbial and resistant to mold.
Choosing innovative textiles made from durable, eco-friendly fibres used by sustainable clothing brands will slow down our rate of consumption and mitigate the negative effects on the environment.
And you, what is your experience with it and are your favorites eco-fabrics ?