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Six fashion fabrics that are good for the planet

When it comes to making more sustainable fashion choices repairing, upcycling, and buying second hand are great options. But when we buy new clothes, which planet friendly fabrics should we be looking out for? Here are 8 sustainable materials to help get you started.

HEMP

Hemp is one of the most sustainable fabrics available. Made from the long stands of fibre that make up the stalk of the plant, Hemp fibres are spun together to produce thread that is then woven into fabric.

Hemp is incredibly easy to grow and requires no pesticides and very little in the way of water. Its long roots are full of nutrients which help to nourish soil and prevent soil erosion. 

With a similar texture to linen, clothes made from Hemp are light and 10 times stronger than cotton.

ORGANIC COTTON

Hemp is one of the most sustainable fabrics available. Made from the long stands of fibre that make up the stalk of the plant, Hemp fibres are spun together to produce thread that is then woven into fabric.

Hemp is incredibly easy to grow and requires no pesticides and very little in the way of water. Its long roots are full of nutrients which help to nourish soil and prevent soil erosion. 

With a similar texture to linen, clothes made from Hemp are light and 10 times stronger than cotton.

BAMBOO

When bamboo is harvested, it can be done so without killing the plant itself meaning that it is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet. It also absorbs more C02 than some trees and like hemp, requires very little in the way of water to grow.

Just how sustainable bamboo is depends on how it is manufactured so look out for organic bamboo in raw form as opposed to that which is plasticized.

wool

Wool is a protein grown naturally by sheep, goats, and other animals which can be woven and spun to yarn and woven into fabrics. Is is renewable, biodegradable and requires very little in the way of chemicals during the production phase. 

The strength and resilience of the fabric means that it lasts for a long time, reducing the need for fast fashion replacements.

PINATEX

Plant or fruit “leathers”, made from waste materials, are starting to become more popular as an alternative to traditionally made leather.

Piñatex, for example, is a material made from the leaves of pineapples grown in the Philippines. Its production is much more sustainable than traditional leather and is completely animal-free. It requires less water and no harmful chemicals that are ecologically toxic to wildlife. The leftover leaf waste can be recycled and used for fertiliser.

ECONYL

Econyl is recycled nylon that uses synthetic waste from ocean plastic, abandoned fishing nets, waste fabric and forms them into new nylon fabric. While it feels exactly the same as nylon, this fabric is made using a closed-loop system, and doesn’t require as much water.

Econyl doesn’t decrease the amount of nylon produced each year, it only provides a solution to its unfriendly disposal. One of the problems with nylon is that it isn’t biodegradable, but if we can repurpose it at the end of its life cycle, we may be heading to a more sustainable future.

About the Author

Kim Matrljan

Kim Matrljan

Founder of GAIA. After working in digital marketing for brands like Vivienne Westwood, Selfridges, COS and Rolex, I realised the fashion industry needed change and I wanted to be part of it.

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