Our go to guide to sustainable shopping!
All fabric was not created equal. This is clear when you run your hand over them in the shops! But when it comes to sustainable fabric, you may need to look a little deeper – do you know what you’re looking for?
Finding the right fabrics!
While we do our best to find what we need second hand, it’s just not always possible. A trip to the shops used to be our idea of fun, these days, not so much – it’s exhausting (why do the kids always want to come?!) and a bit overwhelming, especially after a year mostly spent at home. The other thing that used to stress us out was trying to figure out on the spot which fabrics are best for the environment.
We can’t help with the pandemic-related overwhelm, but one thing we can help is a quick guide on what to look for (and perhaps avoid).
What makes them the good guys – eco-friendly fibres:
There is no perfect fabric. Sustainable fabrics are generally made of eco-friendly fibres, meaning the production process has a lower impact on the environment. This includes things like having low water or energy usage, uses waste materials or from renewable resources, has chemical controls, has no GMO components, is biodegradable and avoids soil erosion.
The ‘other’ guys – unsustainable fabrics:
We’re not saying ‘bad’, but we are saying that some fabrics are clearly worse for the environment as others. We try to avoid these fabrics because they have a clear, strong negative environmental impact; for example, where the process has high water or energy usage, the materials used are not renewable, biodegradable or recycled, harmful chemicals and/or GMOs are used, animal cruelty and/or soil erosion is a result of the process.
The below lists are not everything and just our opinion, but should cover most of the fabrics you’ll come across in your travels:
Our faves – top shelf sustainable fabrics:
- Anything with ‘recycled’ in the name (cotton, polyester, nylon, wool)
- Organic cotton (this is much more widely available these days which is great!)
- Linen – so luxe AND eco-friendly
- Tencel – so hot right now (unfortunately we remember the first go-round in the 90s)
- Natural rubber
- Organic Hemp.
‘Still good’ fabrics:
- Responsible wool/cashmere/leather/down
- Sustainable viscose
- BCI Cotton (The Better Cotton Initiative is a global not-for-profit organisation and the largest cotton sustainability programme in the world)
Not terrible but not great:
These might surprise you, but we’ve provided an explanation and more detail can be found on the Sustain Your Style website.
- Cotton (needs a lot of water to grow)
- Wool (the extensive sheep farming practiced to meet global demand has had massive environmental consequences)
- Leather (toxic chemicals are used in tanning process)
- Bamboo (the plant bamboo is sustainable, hence all those claims on bamboo fabrics, however to turn bamboo into fibre, it is processed with strong chemical solvents which are not eco-friendly).
These are hard to avoid, but it’s a good idea to do a little research into how the brand/manufacturer is processing or making the fabric.
Try to avoid:
- Rayon, Viscose and (non-Lenzing) Modal – creating these uses a lot of chemicals, energy and water
- Polyester and other synthetic fibres – derived from petroleum, energy-heavy to produce and non-biodegradable, plus they release microfibers into the air and water when we wash or wear them.
Like we said – this list is not everything but hopefully it gives you somewhere to start. Good luck!
If you are on the lookout for some simple sustainable shopping, we have our beautiful range of preloved baby, kids & maternity clothes in our shop!