When it comes to environmentally-friendly textiles, some fabrics are more sustainable than others. Every plant requires a different amount of land and water to grow. On top of that, some plants may require lots of pesticides, while some don’t need any at all. Although these differences may seem small, they can have a huge impact.
If you’re looking to lower your carbon footprint, starting with your closet can be a great idea. In this article, we’ll break down some of the most environmentally-friendly textiles. Your wardrobe will be as sustainable as can be in no time!
Bamboo is a member of the grass family, growing all across the world. What makes bamboo fantastic is that it doesn’t need to be uprooted when harvested. That small difference makes a huge impact when it comes to sustainability. As harvesters only take the top of the shoot, there is less soil erosion, further promoting a healthy soil-ecosystem. On top of that, it grows incredibly quickly, flourishing in a diverse array of climates. A study by Science Direct suggests that bamboo can grow as much as 70mm every single day. That’s much faster than alternative textiles like cotton. Bamboo’s natural adaptability also means that it requires much less water than other plants.
Another reason this plant is so fantastic for the environment is that it doesn’t require any pesticides to produce. Due to its natural outer barrier, most insects cannot feed on the plant. Without the need for pesticides, the land area where bamboo occurs remains clean and free from chemicals. What’s not to love!
Our own favourite environmentally-friendly textile – industrial hemp
Industrial hemp is a plant common to Central Asia and is one of our top picks. This textile is so fantastic for the environment that it achieves a state known as ‘Carbon-Negative’. This is because hemp absorbs CO2 at a higher rate than other plants. In fact, the Stockholm Environment Institute concluded that a field of hemp absorbs more CO2 than a forest of trees.
Besides the carbon sink that hemp farming creates, it also requires very little water. Especially when compared to plants like cotton, hemp only requires a fraction of the water. When you combine that with the fact that it can grow in many types of soil, we end up with a wonderfully sustainable textile source.
In fact, we love hemp so much that we make our very own sustainable backpacks out of it! Hemp is the second strongest natural material in the world, right after spider silk. We love hemp as it’s both durable and sustainable. There’s no way we could leave off this one from our list! For more information about our bags, check out our recent article on why you should consider switching to an eco-friendly backpack.
By breaking down wood pulp from oak and birch trees, you can produce a fibre called lyocell. In the 1980s, a company named Tencel took this sustainable practice even further. Tencel produces lyocell by sourcing pulp exclusively from sustainable tree farms. After the manufacturing process, you’re left with a material that is 100% biodegradable and naturally sourced. By controlling the area they harvest from, Tencel can create a closed system. That means that they can recycle the majority of water and solvents used in the process. Tencel’s advancements have meant that every single step is as sustainable as possible.
Lyocell is both soft and environmentally-friendly. What more could you want!
Did you know that the manufacturing of soy products produces fibres as a by-product? That’s where soy silk comes in! By weaving all those leftover fibres together, you can create a singular fabric. This process begins with recycling and only gets better from there. There is no need for petrochemicals in the manufacturing process, meaning the final product is sustainable. Producing a textile from a waste product is a fantastic idea, we couldn’t miss it off our list!
Soy silk is incredibly soft, making a fantastic alternative for actual silk. If you’re looking for a material that can compete with the real deal, I recommend you check out soy silk.
Are you ready to try some of these environmentally-friendly textiles?
Due to the recent advances in technology, environmentally-friendly textiles are more accessible than ever. This list has composed some of the best materials, but this is only the start! If you want to see these textiles in action, check out our top 5 environmentally conscious brands! Or why not read our guide on sustainable swimwear?
If you’ve come across any other sustainable textiles, we’d love it hear about them! Let us know in the comments down below.