Sustainable textile development
Eco-friendly clothing, made from sustainable materials continues to gain popularity across the fashion industry. We’re seeing a rise in the number of high fashion and high street clothing brands making the most of organic cotton, bamboo, and recycled polyester, amongst others. These seem to currently be the most viable options for fashion conscious men and women who truly care about the environment. We take a closer look at the textiles eco-friendly brands are using to produce their sustainable creations:
Organic cotton – Pesticides are largely used in growing cotton. In fact, the pesticide use in cotton farming constitutes 16% of all insecticides used worldwide and 6.8% of all herbicides. The pesticides are then washed out of the soil, into rivers and groundwater. Moreover, intensive cotton cultivation uses up large amounts of water in the irrigation process. So on a large scale, cotton farming has a massive environmental impact yet it remains one of the most popular materials used in clothing.
- Some brands have started to use only organic cotton, as a result of this. Organic cotton is the cotton produced according to organic farming standards recognized globally. In farming organic cotton, synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are replaced with organic ones. Soil fertility management ensures the proper growth of the cotton plant also. So organic cotton does not have toxic or synthetic chemical input.
- Recycled polyester – Creating something useful out of waste material is one of the most sustainable processes available. From fleece jackets made out of recycled plastic bottles to shoes created out of recycled rubber, recycled polyester is quickly gaining ground in the fashion industry. Some brands follow the reuse and recycle rule by using ocean waste to produce sustainable and stylish clothing for men and women.
Bamboo – One of the latest plant materials used in the eco-friendly fabric industry, bamboo is a highly sustainable material. The main reason for this is that the bamboo plant is fast-growing, so whatever is used can be quickly replaced. The material is absorbent and fast-drying not to mention hypoallergenic. Bamboo fabric even has antibacterial properties and is biodegradable. The only real drawback about the material is that there is some use of chemicals in the process of turning the plant into wearable materials.
- Organic Hemp – Hemp is easy to cultivate, pest tolerant, and highly productive. This means that it requires no or little agrochemicals and also enriches and strengthens the soil with its deep roots. Hemp can be quite rough when used as a clothing material, some brands have learned how to make it softer so that they can weave it into more wearable fabrics. Growing hemp doesn’t require much water, so its environmental impact is much lower than other materials. Additionally, it also gives a lot more fiber per square meter when compared to other plants.
- Organic silk – Organic silk is made from silk worms in organic mulberry trees. These are trees grown free of chemical pesticides and fertilizers as well as GMOs. This isn’t just better for the environment but better for farmers as well. The quality of organic silk is just as high as that of conventional silk, but even better because of the eco-friendly factor.
Organic wool – The best part about using wool as a clothing material is that it’s a renewable resource, making it one of the most sustainable materials. There’s no need for chemical inputs in the process of turning wool into wearable material. So we have organic wool, which is produced under sustainable farming practices. Organic wool is made without the need for toxic sheep dips.
- Organic leather – There’s been a lot of debate about the ethicality of leather, but you can find organic leather that comes from animals used in meat production. This means that the animals are generally better cared for and are only fed organic food. Additionally, the tanning process uses vegetable products like bark or plant extracts. This means that the leather is free of chrome that can be harmful for human beings.
- Organic linen – Flax plants produce the soft and durable material called linen. Organic linen is grown free from chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This means that it’s good for the environment and for the health of farmers. It’s just as good as conventional linen in terms of quality and doesn’t contain genetically modified fibers.
Even when it comes to the requirement of water in the farming and production of these materials, many brands ensure that the factories recycle and reuse the water. Using these methods sustainable clothing continues to gain ground when it comes to maintaining an ecological balance. It’s important to note that wearing sustainable clothing isn’t the only way to be eco-conscious though.
In addition to wearing clothes made of these materials, you could also adopt other eco-friendly habits such as shopping at charity, thrift or vintage stores. This is a great way to reduce consumption and save clothes from being dumped in landfill. Even if you’re not so keen on shopping for everyday wear at thrift stores, you can use them to source costume or one-time-wear clothes like Halloween costumes or even the obligatory Christmas sweaters for festive parties.
This feature has been a collaboration with Brandon Leibowitz, a seasoned writer for global thrift retailers, Savers and Value Village. He is a frequent contributor to blogs such as Social Media Examiner, Businesss 2 Community and several others. Brandon is recognized as a strong social media influencer due to his knowledge of and dedication to the industry.