The fashion industry is one of the largest polluters globally. It's responsible for huge textile wastes, water, air, soil pollution, toxic chemicals, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Only a fraction of the resources used by the textile industry is renewable. It's now more important than ever to choose eco-friendly and sustainable fabrics when shopping for new garments. Luckily, there are already tons of great environmentally friendly fabrics to choose from.
How do you tell the difference between a fabric that is eco-friendly and one that isn't? What are the best textiles for stylish fashion that also protect the planet?
Try to answer this quiz on sustainable fabrics to test your knowledge of eco-conscious fashion materials. Good luck!
Organic cotton is a natural fiber. It's bio-based and biodegradable. It's the most popular eco-friendly and sustainable fabric. Lightweight and durable, it's easy to wash and care for. But it requires tons of water to grow.
Lyocell is an innovative fabric. It's a textile made from cellulose fiber. It's a form of rayon manufactured from wood pulp. Lyocell is a plant-based fiber. It's a breathable, lightweight, durable and very soft fabric.
Linen is the most expensive and sustainable clothing fabric worldwide. It's a woven fabric using natural fibers made from a renewable plant-based resource: flax plants. Linen fabric is sold at a higher price than cotton or jute because it's difficult to manufacture and has a lower availability.
Polyester is the most widely used fiber globally. 55 million tons of polyester fibers were produced in 2018. It represents 52 % of the global fiber production. But polyester is highly damaging to the environment. It contributes to the microplastic fiber pollution that endangers ecosystems, marine wildlife, and human health.
Recycled nylon is manufactured from post-consumer and post-industrial wastes, such as fabric scraps, carpet flooring, fishing nets, and industrial plastics from landfills and oceans. The main recycled nylon standards include the Global Recycled Standard (GRS), the Recycled Claim Standard (RCS), and the SCS Recycled Content Certification (SCS RC).
Bamboo viscose is bio-based but isn't biodegradable. It's a type of rayon, a man-made fabric. Even though it's made from renewable resources, bamboo viscose fabric isn't natural but a semi-synthetic cellulosic fiber derived from wood pulp.
Contrary to popular belief, wool isn't an ethical or sustainable material. More than 95% of all wool comes from mass production globally. Wool production has a disastrous impact on the environment. The farming and processing of wool creates tons of wastes, carbon emissions, air, soil, and water pollution.
Cupro is a man-made cellulosic fiber derived from plants or wood. It's a semi-synthetic fabric and very different from polyester. Polyester is a synthetic fabric made from petrochemicals.
Spandex or elastane is known for its excellent elasticity and is usually blended with other synthetic fibers such as recycled polyester and nylon to produce more eco-friendly garments. However, it's very complicated to recycle spandex and it isn't usually made from waste in most fabric blends.
The biggest producer of hemp tow worldwide is North Korea with 14,891 tons produced in 2018, followed by the Netherlands, China, and Italy. The annual production of hemp fibers was 60,657 tons in 2018 globally. That number is more than 10 times lower than for flax fibers.
About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.