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What is Sustainable Clothing Made of?


You may be asking yourself, what actually makes sustainable clothing sustainable? Is it down to the fabric used? Or how the fabric is manufactured? Or does it come down to how the cotton was grown? 

There are a few answers. But let’s explore them (in detail) below.

What Makes Sustainable Clothing Sustainable

Sustainable clothing matters. Both for the environment, and for yourself—the clothing is soft and high-quality (to say the least). But what is sustainable clothing made of that makes it sustainable? To answer the question simply, the clothing uses biodegradable components from natural or recycled fibers. Materials are grown with no pesticide or fertilizer use, require zero chemical treatment, and consume less energy and water—reducing their carbon footprint.

What fibers is sustainable clothing made of?

The fibers used are numerous, and can differ. Here is a list of the most popular fibers used in sustainable clothing, ranked on quality, price, and sustainability efforts:

Wool

Quality: High. Wool is known for its durability, excellent insulation, and biodegradability. It provides warmth and is ideal for winter clothing.
Price: Generally high. The cost can vary depending on the type and source of the wool.
Sustainability: Wool is natural and biodegradable, but it has a high carbon footprint and raises animal rights concerns​.

TENCEL (Lyocell)

Quality: High. TENCEL is known for its softness, breathability, and moisture-wicking, making it perfect for activewear and casual clothing.
Price: Moderate to high. TENCEL tends to be more expensive than conventional fabrics but is more affordable than luxury fibers.
Sustainability: TENCEL has a low environmental impact and is made from sustainably sourced wood pulp​.

Industrial Hemp

Quality: High. Hemp is durable, breathable, and gets softer with each wash. It's excellent for a range of clothing from casual wear to more rugged applications.
Price: Moderate. Hemp clothing is generally affordable but can be slightly more expensive than cotton due to its production process.
Sustainability: Hemp is highly sustainable, requiring minimal water and pesticides.

Sustainable Cotton (Organic/Recycled)

Quality: High. Organic and recycled cotton maintain the comfort and versatility of conventional cotton without the environmental downsides.
Price: Moderate to high. Organic cotton is more expensive than conventional cotton due to more labor-intensive farming practices.
Sustainability: Organic cotton uses fewer pesticides and less water, while recycled cotton reduces waste and energy use​.

Bamboo

Quality: Moderate to high. Bamboo fabric is soft, breathable, and moisture-wicking, but its durability can vary.
Price: Moderate. Bamboo is generally affordable, making it a popular choice for eco-friendly clothing.
Sustainability: Bamboo grows quickly with minimal resources, but the chemical-intensive process to turn bamboo into fabric can offset some environmental benefits​.

Soy Cashmere/Silk

Quality: High. Soy cashmere and silk are soft, luxurious, and have a silky texture, similar to traditional silk.
Price: High. These materials are typically more expensive due to their luxurious feel and the processes involved in their production.
Sustainability: These materials are biodegradable and have a lower environmental impact compared to animal-based fibers​.

Recycled Polyester (rPET)

Quality: Moderate. Recycled polyester is durable and retains the properties of conventional polyester, making it suitable for activewear and outerwear.
Price: Low to moderate. It is generally affordable, similar to or slightly more than virgin polyester.
Sustainability: While recycled polyester reduces waste and the need for virgin resources, it still releases microplastics and is not biodegradable​.

Summary

As a summary, wool ranks highest in terms of quality, sustainable cotton ranks highest in terms of price (affordability), and TENCEL ranks highest based on sustainability.

The Everyday Benefits of Sustainable Clothing

Sustainable clothing offers a range of everyday benefits that actually exceed the environmental impact. Here are some advantages:

Environmental Benefits

Reduced Carbon Footprint: Sustainable clothing often uses organic materials and eco-friendly production processes that emit fewer greenhouse gasses.
Less Pollution: Natural dyes and biodegradable fabrics decrease water and air pollution.
Resource Conservation: Sustainable practices focus on using less water, energy, and raw materials.

Health and Comfort

Non-Toxic Materials: Organic fabrics are free from harmful chemicals and pesticides, reducing the risk of skin irritation and allergies.
Breathability: Natural fibers like organic cotton and bamboo are more breathable and comfortable, especially in warm weather.
Durability: High-quality sustainable clothing often lasts longer, providing better value and reducing waste.

Ethical and Social Benefits

Fair Labor Practices: Natural fiber clothing brands often ensure fair wages and safe working conditions, promoting social justice.
Support for Communities: Supports local communities and artisans, often preserving traditional crafts and skills.

Economic Benefits

Cost-Effectiveness: While the initial cost might be higher, the durability and timeless style of sustainable clothing can lead to long-term savings.
Increased Resale Value: High-quality sustainable clothing retains its value better, making it easier to sell second-hand.

Incorporating sustainable clothing into your wardrobe not only benefits the environment but also personal health, supports ethical practices, and promotes a mindful lifestyle.

The Terrible Impact 'Normal' Clothing Has on The Environment

The production of conventional clothing has many negative impacts on the environment. Here are some of the worst:

Resource Depletion

Water Usage: The fashion industry is one of the largest consumers of water. It takes approximately 2,700 liters of water to produce one cotton t-shirt.
Land Use: Large areas of land are dedicated to growing cotton and other natural fibers, which can contribute to deforestation and loss of biodiversity.

Pollution

Chemical Use: Conventional clothing production involves heavy use of pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers, particularly in cotton farming. These chemicals can contaminate soil and water sources.
Dye Pollution: Textile dyeing and treatment processes release harmful chemicals and heavy metals into rivers and streams, affecting ocean life and the human population.

Carbon Emissions

Fossil Fuels: The production of fibers like polyester and nylon relies heavily on fossil fuels, which leads to greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy-Intensive Processes: Energy-intensive, contributing to climate change.

Impact on Wildlife

Habitat Destruction: Natural fibers and the extraction of raw materials for synthetics often lead to habitat destruction and biodiversity loss.
Toxic Exposure: Wildlife can be exposed to toxic chemicals from textile production, leading to health issues and population declines.

Why You Should Choose Sustainable Clothing

After covering what sustainable clothing is made of, the benefits of sustainable clothing, and the negative effects conventional clothing has on the world, I think it’s fairly clear why you should choose sustainable clothing over your everyday fit.

If you love the benefits that sustainable clothing brings just as much as we do, feel free to take a look at our collection. We offer 100% organic cotton clothing, providing you with comfort and style - All in one.


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