Whether you want to buy clothes that have been recycled or are looking for organic cotton, there are plenty of choices. But how can you be sure that the fabric you choose positively impacts the environment? Here are four things to look for.

Recycled polyester

Using recycled polyester fabric helps the environment in several ways. It reduces the need for petroleum, and it curbs plastic waste. It also cuts down on toxic emissions from incinerators.

While recycled polyester does have its benefits, it is not a perfect solution. It is a bit more expensive to produce than virgin polyester and is still not 100% recyclable.

Another advantage of recycled polyester is that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It’s durable and lightweight. Its ability to resist fading makes it ideal for apparel and footwear. It also reduces the need for non-renewable resources.

Many retailers and brands tout recycled polyester as part of their sustainable sourcing efforts. However, consumers should be aware of its advantages and disadvantages.

Recycled polyester is not biodegradable. It still contains microplastics, and it can be toxic to the wearer.

Using recycled polyester can help the environment, but it’s different from the silver bullet-fashion brands have been looking for. 

Organic cotton

Organic cotton fabric is a significant first step toward a more sustainable future. It protects our health and the best fabric for the environment and helps preserve our precious natural resources. It’s also an effective alternative to synthetic materials and helps save water and energy.

Organic cotton is grown using natural methods and non-chemical fertilizers. It uses less water and energy, reduces runoff, and reduces the effects of pesticides on freshwater sources. Its environmental impact depends on the region and climate where it is grown.

Organic cotton is also better for the soil. It uses crop rotation strategies and intercropping to reduce soil degradation and preserve biodiversity. It also uses organic sources of fertilizer and pest-resistant varieties.

Organic cotton may require more resources to grow, but the quality of the end product is better for the environment. It is kinder to the soil, eventually pulling carbon out of the atmosphere. It can also help to preserve wildlife habitat.

Organic Cotton

Although organic cotton has many advantages, its production is not without drawbacks. It’s not always 100% organic and may be dyed with harmful chemicals.

Viscose rayon

During the early 1920s, Samuel Courtauld & Company produced the first viscose rayon fabric. This fabric was made from the cellulose compound acetate, split into pure cellulose (rayon).

Viscose rayon is also known as artificial silk. The fabric is often used in silk-like dresses and drapey summer clothes. The material is soft and comfortable, and it absorbs moisture well. Its lustrous, silk-like look is a draw for consumers.

However, the production process of viscose rayon can have severe environmental impacts. Its production method requires a large number of toxic chemicals. Many of these chemicals are dangerous for workers. This process has been linked to workplace accidents and severe illness.

There are other fabrics besides viscose that are bad for the environment. Different types of cloth include polyester, fleece, and modal. These fabrics are also made from plant fibers but are entirely artificial.

The process of producing viscose rayon requires a large number of toxic chemicals. These chemicals wind up in the air, winding up in the lungs of people who breathe them in. They can cause severe illness, and they can damage the nervous system.

Recycled wool

Using recycled wool fabric helps the environment in several ways. It’s a sustainable option that saves water, energy, and chemicals. It also prolongs the life of the fiber.

Wool is a natural fiber that’s easily recyclable. It’s durable, and it’s hygroscopic, which means it breathes. It’s also biodegradable. It has a low carbon footprint, requiring no water to dye.

Several designers, including Eileen Fisher, Mara Hoffman, and Stella McCartney, use recycled wool fabric. They refashion their garments into new products. They can also use fabric trimmings to weave into rugs.

The process of recycling wool starts by removing non-wool items from the garment. After that, it’s spun into yarn and used to make new products.

The closed-loop system of wool garment recycling is relatively simple. A cutting machine cuts the garment, ripping it into a loose fibrous material. The desired color combination then bundles the fibers. Then it’s sorted into different color groups.

This process saves about 500 liters of water. It also prevents the need for dyeing, as the fibers are dyed in small amounts with freshly dyed fibers.

Deadstock

A great way to lessen the environmental effects of overproduction is to use deadstock fabric. It’s cheaper to buy and reduces the need to produce new fabrics.

It also saves water and energy. For every yard of deadstock fabric used, you save approximately 700 gallons of water and 700-kilowatt hours of electricity.

Utilizing deadstock cloth also lessens the quantity of trash dumped in landfills. Deadstock fabric is also great for creating unique clothing pieces without investing in new materials. Recreating some popular designs may not be possible, but if a company plans specific procedures, using deadstock can help them realize them. Small sustainable brands can create unique products using reclaimed materials.