You already know that your fashion choices can really have an impact on Mama Earth.
You can create your perfect green wardrobe by shopping second hand, renting your clothes or swapping them, you decide. But there’ll always be one more thing dictating whether your clothes are eco or not: the fabric they’re made of.
There’s no such thing as a perfectly sustainable wonder-fabric. Anything we buy is going to have a list of pros and cons, so the best thing we can do is make reading tags a habit and really understand what they say.
It kinda sucks that we, as consumers, have to always think the worst of the brands that sell us clothes, but in the current climate, if you’re not too careful you may fall victim to greenwashing.
We’re friends, so I don’t want to lie to you: this stuff is hard and confusing and there’s a lot to think about.
For example, I always thought that viscose was kinda green because it’s a cellulosic fiber (aka it comes from wood), but actually its production requires loads of nasty chemicals and it’s far from sustainable.
It’s all about learning about your options and getting to know their quirks and their perks so that you can really make informed decisions on whether you want them in your life or not.
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Deadstock materials are essentially leftovers. Textiles that are discarded in the making of garments, rolls of fabric that are rejected for having minor flaws, or even sometimes stock that is left unsold.
Why are we including them in this list? Because they’re strutting into the fashion industry with the confidence of Captain America, and they’re doing it in super innovative ways – like having old Turkish rugs turn into shoes.
Clothes made of deadstock fabric often come in limited editions because the brands working with them have only a certain amount of each fabric and pattern, and once they’re over, they’re over for good – this is also a way to avoid promoting overproduction and fast consumption.
We consider them sustainable because they help us repurpose materials that already existed and keep them in the loop of circular fashion instead of letting them go to waste.
Now, there are deadstock materials of pretty much any textile under the sun, from polyester to organic hemp, and this will also affect how sustainable each piece of clothing is.
So you’re not always in the clear. A dress made of deadstock polyester will be a tad more sustainable than one made of newly-produced polyester, but you’ll still have to think about the side effects of synthetic fabrics, like the unfortunate fact that they release millions of microplastics when you wash them. In a case like this one, you can still be your greenest self by installing a washing machine filter or using laundry bags to catch those microfibers.
When you’re shopping, you might find this fabric listed as Tencel®, but Tencel is actually a brand owned by Lenzing, a well-known developer of innovative sustainable textiles #TheMoreYouKnow.
Lyocell is made of wood pulp, just like other fabrics like rayon and viscose. These three are created by dissolving the wood and transforming it into cellulosic fibers, but Lyocell is ✨special✨ and the eco-friendliest one by far, because it’s way less chemical-intensive and the substances used aren’t toxic, unlike the ones required for the other two.
It’s also produced in a closed-loop, which means that the water and products used stay in the production cycle and aren’t released to nature.
Also, the wood used to make Lyocell is sustainably sourced. Because of the insane speed and volume of fast fashion production, rayon and viscose are known for being made at the cost of deforestation of endangered areas.
Refibra is another wonder fabric created by Tencel. It’s not as common as Lyocell yet, but it deserves just as much appreciation and it’s living proof that technology and fashion should go hand in hand.
It’s produced in a closed-loop system, just like Lyocell, by upcycling cotton scraps and transforming them into cotton pulp.
The result is a biodegradable cottony material made entierly of industry byproducts.
ECONYL® is regenerated nylon, and it’s often used in sustainable swimwear and sportswear.
Did you know that fishing nets make up about 10% of all plastic waste in the ocean? ECONYL can be made of fishing nets, old carpets and discarded nylon clothes, and we love it because it helpt the ocean look like less of a plastic soup.
It has the same properties as newly-produced nylon (stretchiness, malleability,…), but its environmental impact is 90% lower and it can be recycled over and over again.
Again, a little reminder that this is still a synthetic fabric, so you may want to use a microfiber-catching laundry bag if you’re thinking of adding ECONYL to your wardrobe.
Read more: What Are Microplastics?
Repreve is made of plastic bottles and it’s also used in stretchy clothes.
It’s made by saving plastic bottles from rotting in a landfill or from floating forever on the sea and turning them into recycled fibers, and it’s becoming a very common fabric even for non-eco-conscious brands.
It’s another one of those textiles where fashion meets technology, and it has cooling and warming properties, which makes it perfect for things like workwear, base layers for winter clothes, and wetsuits.
Again, synthetic fiber. So consider getting a laundry bag to catch those sneaky microfibers.