An Explainer: Sustainable Fabrics
Each year more than 15 million tons of used textile waste is generated in the United States alone and in the last 20 years, this number has doubled. In fact, after oil, the apparel industry is the largest polluter in the world.
Given these worrying statistics, you may be wondering how best to determine the carbon footprint of your beloved cotton tee or that tote you’ve been eyeing.
We’ve broken it down for you by sharing our top five picks for sustainable fabrics. From centuries old fibers making a comeback to the latest innovations in the market, these fabrics make both a fashion and eco statement.
Conventional cotton gets a bad rap for being one of the most environmentally destructive fabrics due to the exorbitant amount of water and chemicals used in its production. Thankfully, GOMS cotton is becoming more popular with both brands and consumers. Free of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and genetically modified seeds, organic cotton is an eco-friendly alternative for any one who swears by cotton. Just make sure to check the label – you want to avoid blend fabrics and chemical dyes. One of our favorite brands is Cottonique, which makes all the basics you need.
Made from the stem of flax, linen is one of the most sustainable fabrics in the market. It’s stronger than cotton, naturally moth-resistant and gets softer and more comfortable with each wash. Linen is also a great year-round fabric as it warms in winter and cools in summer. As an added bonus, it’s entirely biodegradable! We suggest choosing linen in natural hues as pure white linen goes through intense bleaching.
One of the world’s oldest fibers, hemp is also one of the most sustainable. It’s pest-resistant, fast growing and requires minimal land and water. It even returns most of the nutrients used to grow back into the soil! Similar in texture to linen, hemp is also UV-resistant and great as year-round clothing. Choose undyed or naturally dyed hemp as more vibrant colors indicates use of chemical dyes.
Recycled fabric is made from used clothing whose fibers has been broken down and transformed into a new fabric. More innovative labels even use the PET (the chemical needed to create polyester) from plastic water bottles to create recycled polyester. By choosing recycled fabrics, you can help keep worn clothing and plastic out of landfills. The best part is that recycled fabrics can be recycled again and again. We personally love Girlfriend Collective’s leggings, which are made from old fishing nets, and Bracenets - bracelets made from recycled fishing nets.
Also known as deadstock fabric, reclaimed fabric is any excess fabric that would have otherwise gone to the landfill. Think leftover material from manufacturers, your grandma’s vintage fabric or any unused secondhand fabric. Labels who use reclaimed fabric, like Evrile (our bags are made from excess coffee sacks), use zero waste techniques to combat textile waste. Evrile's current collection includes backpacks, tote bags, travel bags, and a clutch.