If you want to become a mindful shopper, your main goal should be to ditch fast fashion and opt for garments made with sustainable fabrics. Due to fast fashion demands, manufacturers rely on virgin synthetic materials that are cheap, but also impossible to recycle and hardtop biodegrade. It’s time to slow down with fast fashion, but also look into fabrics that are better for the environment. Here are just some of the innovative fabric solutions that might help us see a greener future.
Hemp is a type of cannabis plant without any psychoactive properties. It’s a fast-growing plant that’s easy on the soil and doesn’t require the use of pesticides and other soil pollutants. And the best thing about hemp is that it can be used for the production of fabric that’s non-irritating and eco-friendly (a great alternative to cotton). Hemp is fully organic, but when buying any items made with hemp, check the label and see whether it’s 100% hemp before investing.
Linen is an old material made from flax, but it’s getting more and more relevant today. Flax is a plant that can grow without fertilizers and in very unfriendly conditions. Also, the plant can be used almost 100% from root to seed, leaving no waste behind. And as long as the manufacturers leave harsh chemicals out of the garment making process, linen is completely biodegradable. However, it can be a little more expensive.
Bamboo is known as one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. Bamboo forests don’t require any fertilizers and can be turned into many different garment fabrics. Today, there are even manufacturers that produce super-soft bamboo underwear for women, meaning that bamboo can be gentle on the skin, machine-washable and worn over a long period of time. It’s also very absorbent and moisture-wicking, thus more than suitable for things like underwear.
Even though wool farmers often don’t get to enjoy adequate welfare standards, and organizations like PETA argue that this animal product is not ethical, wool is renewable, durable and biodegradable. And what interests eco-conscious users the most is the fact that some farmers use carbon from the atmosphere to make wool, thus cleaning the air and reducing environmental impact. Additionally, wool is water-repellent, fire-resistant and very durable — a perfect replacement for fast fashion.
Plant leather is faux-leather made with waste materials. Pinatex is one of the most popular of these materials, employing the use of pineapple leaves. The production of this type of leather is much more sustainable than regular, animal leather, and it doesn’t harm any animals in the process. It also requires less water and fewer chemicals to produce. If there’s some waste left over, it can be recycled and used for fertilizers and biomass.
Silk is produced by silkworms, animals that eat mulberry tree leaves. This plant is very interesting in a sense that it’s resistant to pollution and requires minimal maintenance. However, since silk basically uses animal labor, it’s essential to find manufacturers that ensure ethical production methods.
Fibers made from coconut can be used in a wide variety of material productions, from knit and woven fabrics to non-wovens. ‘Cocona’ fibers provide effective cooling, UV protection and odor absorption to the wearer. Coconut shells contain the finest activated carbon that provides ultimate dryness and protection. Garments made with coconut fibers are lightweight, comfortable and just as stretchy and washable as any other. Another thing is that the coconut tree is very useful for the community and every part of the plant can be used.
Scientists today are looking to the natural world for inspiration when it comes to improving engineering, architecture, medicine and textile production. What they found is a protein in squid ring teeth (in the sucker of the tentacles) that can be used for coating fabrics. Materials coated in this protein are much more durable and can have self-healing properties. This means that we might be able to produce garments in the future that are recyclable, biodegradable and very long-lasting.
Eco-conscious fashionistas don’t have to give up their fashion passion. By choosing these new and eco-friendly materials, we can mix fashion and environmental protection and look fabulous while protecting the environment. Once these innovative materials become more common, we can collectively ditch fast fashion.
Written by Diana Smith
About the Author
Diana Smith is a full time mum of two beautiful girls and is interested in sustainability, ecology and home improvement. She enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family. You can find her on Twitter here.
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