Are you looking to make more sustainable choices when shopping for clothes and want to focus on sustainable materials? But what exactly are sustainable materials and what should you look out for? Don't worry, we've done the research for you and are here to present the most important points and criteria!
So, what does sustainable materials mean?
Sustainable materials definition
Sustainable materials are those that are produced in an environmentally, economically, and socially responsible manner. This means they are environmentally friendly, fair trade, and economically viable. The production of sustainable materials aims to protect natural resources and preserve the health of people and the environment.
Criteria for Sustainable Materials
Sustainable materials should consist of natural fibers such as cotton, linen, or hemp. Organic and biological materials and fibers are produced without harmful pesticides and chemicals, making them better for the environment and your health. Look for certifications such as GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) or OEKO-TEX.
One of the biggest problems we face is waste and what to do with all the plastic we’ve already produced. Recycled materials are part of the solution, such as recycled polyester or recycled cotton can be great sustainable alternative. Recycled materials like recycled polyester or recycled nylon are made from already existing materials, therefore also putting less strain on the environment.
Eco-Friendly Manufacturing Processes
During production, eco-friendly processes should be used, such as the use of renewable energy or the avoidance of harmful chemicals in dyeing methods.
Fair Trade and Social Standards
Another important criterion is fair working conditions. For example, the Fairtrade seal guarantees fair wages and humane working conditions for workers in production countries. The GOTS seal also includes social standards.
The Origin of Materials
Make sure the materials come from ethically and environmentally conscious companies. Materials from mass production can often have a negative impact on the environment.
Consider the big picture
A sustainable material selection should also consider environmentally conscious production and socially responsible working conditions. Look for certifications such as Fairtrade or the Fair Wear Foundation.
When you buy sustainable products, you're not only making the world a better place, but you're also investing in high-quality clothing with a longer lifespan and therefore investing in your future.
Why are sustainable materials important?
The fashion industry is notorious for being one of the biggest contributors to environmental pollution worldwide. The production of clothing requires vast amounts of resources, including water, energy, and chemicals. And what's worse? Most of the clothes we wear are made from synthetic materials that aren't biodegradable and take hundreds of years to decompose.
But the consequences of the fashion industry's reckless practices don't just affect the environment. They also have a direct impact on the people who make our clothes. Most textile workers earn paltry wages and toil away in abysmal working conditions.
That's why sustainable materials matter. They help reduce the environmental impact of clothing production and fight against climate change. They also contribute to creating fairer working conditions for the people involved in their production.
By purchasing sustainable clothing, you're supporting companies that prioritize eco-friendliness and fair labor practices. You're also doing your part to reduce the demand for unsustainable textiles and minimizing the fashion industry's impact on the planet. So, choose wisely and join the sustainable fashion revolution!
Sustainability - Materials
What eco-friendly materials are out there?
The world is facing a climate crisis, and one of the most significant contributors to this crisis is the fashion industry. However, there is hope in the form of sustainable materials. By choosing environmentally-friendly materials, we can make a positive impact on the planet and promote a more sustainable future.
List of sustainable materials
Organic Cotton is one of the most well-known sustainable options. It is grown without the use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals, making it much more environmentally-friendly than traditional cotton. Organic cotton fabrics are also softer and more breathable than traditional cotton, making them ideal for clothing such as t-shirts and underwear.
Hemp is one of the most sustainable raw materials in the world. It requires minimal water and can be grown without the use of pesticides. Hemp can be used to make a variety of materials, including clothing, paper, and building materials.
Thease materials are made from fibers that are derived from raw materials such as wood, and are biodegradable. It requires minimal water and pesticides during processing and is soft and breathable. The fabrics are often used for clothing such as shirts and blouses or underwear.
Linen is a natural fiber derived from flax. It is biodegradable and requires less water and pesticides during production than cotton. Linen clothing is breathable, durable, and often used in summer fashion.
Bamboo is a fast-growing plant that requires minimal water and pesticides, and is biodegradable. Bamboo fibers are soft and breathable, making them perfect for clothing such as t-shirts and underwear.
Wool is a natural fiber derived from sheep. It is biodegradable and can often be recycled. Wool textiles are durable and provide excellent warmth, making them ideal for winter fashion.
Cork is a renewable resource obtained from the bark of cork oak trees. Cork is lightweight, durable, and water-resistant. What's unique about this material is that it can completely regenerate itself. Cork is a very versatile material used for making shoes, handbags, and furniture, and is gaining popularity in the fashion industry with accessories like bracelets and earrings made from this sustainable material.
A recent development in the field of natural materials is Piñatex. This material is made from the fibers of pineapple leaves that would typically be discarded as waste. Piñatex has similar properties to leather and is therefore widely used in the production of bags, shoes, and other accessories.
Freshwater algae Cladophora
Freshwater algae are a relatively new material and are still considered material innovations in the sustainable fashion industry. Still, freshwater algae Cladophora is already showing promise. This algae can be processed into a biodegradable material that looks and feels similar to silk. It's also a renewable resource that grows quickly and requires minimal water compared to traditional materials such as cotton. Although Cladophora is not yet widely used, it could play an important role in the production of sustainable textiles and other products in the future.
The number of sustainable materials is constantly growing, offering an ever-increasing variety for environmentally-conscious consumers.
What is the most sustainable fiber?
Determining the most sustainable fiber can be a complex and multifaceted question. However, some fibers are generally considered to be more sustainable than others. For example, organic cotton, hemp, linen, and bamboo are often considered to be more sustainable than conventional cotton or synthetic fibers like polyester. However, even within these more sustainable options, there can be variations in sustainability depending on factors such as the farming practices used, the production processes, and the end-of-life options for the fiber.
Nevertheless, Tencel, Modal, and Lyocell are three regenerated cellulose fibers that are often considered to be among the most sustainable. These fibers are all made from regenerated cellulose, which means that they are produced from natural materials such as wood pulp. While Lyocell currently has the smallest production volume, it is growing rapidly.
The sustainability of these fibers can be evaluated based on factors such as the length of the fibers and the production process, including the source of the wood used and the use of water and pesticides.
How can sustainable materials be identified?
Look for certifications:
There are various certifications that indicate a product is sustainable, such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or Cradle to Cradlecertification. Check the product label or website for these certifications.
Consider the production process:
Sustainable materials should have a low environmental impact throughout their entire life cycle. Look for materials that are produced using renewable energy, have low greenhouse gas emissions, and minimize waste and water use.
Pay attention to the proportion of organically produced fibers. Materials that consist of at least 95 percent organically produced fibers can be labeled as "Organic". If the proportion is at least 70 percent, the label "Made with organic" can be used. However, these materials may also contain conventional or chemical fibers.
Research the brand:
Some brands have a strong commitment to sustainability and use sustainable materials as a core part of their business. Do some research on the brand's website, social media, or through third-party sources to learn more about their sustainability practices
What are examples of sustainable materials and products?
Sustainable products are items or goods that have been produced taking into account social, ecological, and economic aspects and thus cause less harm to the environment. If you are looking for sustainable products, there are many ways to find environmentally friendly alternatives to conventional products. Here are some examples:
Reusable produce bags* - with these, you can shop for fruits and vegetables without plastic packaging and reuse the bags again and again.
Glass straws* - unlike single-use plastic straws, these straws are reusable and easy to clean.
Washable makeup remover pads* - these pads are made from cotton or other sustainable materials and can be used again and again to clean your skin.
Safety razor - a safety razor is an eco-friendly alternative to disposable razors since it lasts longer and has replaceable blades.
Cotton bread bag - a cotton bread bag is an eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags or disposable paper bags for carrying bread or pastries.
Bamboo toothbrush* - bamboo toothbrushes are a sustainable alternative to traditional plastic toothbrushes. Bamboo is biodegradable and therefore more environmentally friendly.
Eco-friendly cleaning products: Cleaning products that are made from natural, non-toxic ingredients and are biodegradable.
Upcycled products: Products made from waste materials that have been repurposed to create something new and useful.
There are many other sustainable products on the market that can help you reduce your ecological footprint. But sustainability is not just about products - it's also about how long those products last to avoid unnecessary disposal. So whether you choose reusable products or long-lasting products, every sustainable product you buy can make a big difference for sustainability.
How can you incorporate sustainable materials into your own wardrobe?
Integrating sustainable materials into your wardrobe can be a great way to reduce your environmental impact. Here are some tips to help you do so:
A first step is to become aware of what you already have in your closet. Taking inventory gives you an overview of what you own, which clothing items you no longer wear, and which pieces are your personal favorite apparel basics. This way, you can avoid buying unnecessary new clothes and thus conserve resources. Read our article about Capsule Wardrobe, to learn to create a timeless and sustainable wardrobe.
Research sustainable materials: Look for clothing made from organic cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo, recycled polyester, or Tencel. These materials are often grown or produced using fewer resources and chemicals than conventional materials.
Shop from sustainable brands: Many fashion brands are now committed to using sustainable materials and practices. Look for brands that prioritize ethical sourcing and production, use environmentally-friendly materials, and have transparent supply chains.
Buy second-hand: Shopping for second-hand clothing is an excellent way to reduce your environmental impact. It reduces the demand for new clothing production and helps to extend the life of existing clothing.
Invest in high-quality pieces: Opt for well-made, timeless pieces that will last for years. Quality pieces made from sustainable materials may be more expensive, but they will save you money in the long run and reduce waste.
Take care of your clothing: Proper care of your clothing can extend its life and reduce the need for frequent replacements. Follow the care instructions on the label and mend any damages rather than discarding the item.
By making small changes to your shopping habits and focusing on sustainable materials, you can help reduce your environmental impact and create a more sustainable wardrobe.So, keep your eyes open, stay informed, and be skeptical when choosing your purchases. But also be creative and have fun discovering sustainable materials for your wardrobe!