Fashion is one of the most innovative, inspirational and unsustainable industries out there. We are currently in a climate emergency, and governments are starting to crack down on environmental regulations. The fashion industry accounts for a whopping 10% of global carbon emissions.
The younger generations are particularly environmentally conscious. They are keener to invest in sustainable fabrics made from recycled materials and items. Some fabrics are eco-friendlier than others, and we need to start paying more attention to this. Move over fast
fashion; it’s sustainability season.
Here are the top fabrics used in fashion and how they impact the environment.
Let’s start with the world’s most popular fabric, cotton. It’s in everything from our bedsheets to our jeans. Cotton is a natural material that is grown, spun and pressed into the fabric. Organic cotton is far more sustainable, biodegradable and produced without toxic chemicals.
These toxic chemicals can poison water suppliers and have a catastrophic effect on local communities. Organic cotton does not have residue from these chemicals and is preferred by people with sensitive skin. It’s easy to wash and dry cotton. Stick to a cold cycle and save energy where you can. Organic cotton is a fantastic fabric that we should continue to utilise.
On the other hand, polyester is a synthetic material that is not environmentally friendly. It’s cheap to produce and purchase, making it a favourite for fast fashion brands. Polyester is not biodegradable and can sit in landfills for decades. Thankfully, fashion brands like Stella
McCartney have started using recycled polyester in their collections.
Silk is one of the most luxurious materials available, and yet it’s made from worms. Silkworms line their cocoons with silk threads which are spun into beautiful fabrics. Vegan silk brands do not harm the worms, and the threads are taken when they have left their cocoons. These brands do not use chemicals in the harvesting process and produce much more sustainable silk. Other designers kill the silkworms in the process of making the fabric and go for a less than eco-friendly approach.
Linen is made from a flax plant and is an incredibly breathable material. Linen is biodegradable unless it’s dyed. So, the next time you buy a ladies’ linen skirt – look out for grey, tan, ivory and ecru shades. It is one of the most sustainable fabrics out there, and it’s bang on trend right now.
Most of your activewear will be made from nylon. It is a manmade material that requires an enormous amount of energy and water to produce. Nylon is made from plastic and is not biodegradable. Similar to polyester, many brands are now using recycled nylon in their collections to promote eco-friendly practices.
Check the fabric of your next purchase before you invest in a brand.