Fashion is a constant evolution of both new and old ideas. It drives us into this constant hunt for the latest and greatest designer products, at the same time enlarging those oh so dangerous holes in our wallets. And for what? A temporary satisfaction to hold us over until the emergence of next season’s newest trends? This constant cycle of out with the old, in with the new is taking a serious toll on not only the space in our closets but, more importantly, the environment. Think about it. All the energy required and waste produced from the harvesting of raw materials for fabric, production and construction of the actual garments, and transportation required to make the product accessible, all add up to create a problem that is only growing in severity.
Our only hope is change—small changes that start with you. One of the modifications that can easily be made to any fashionista’s lifestyle is simply the purchasing and use of more sustainable fabrics, many of which provide their own unique benefits that their alternatives lack.
Tencel is a luxurious, comfortable material made from the cellulose in wood pulp. Yes, it is biodegradable, but it is also breathable, lightweight, and wrinkle resistant. Additionally, it produces less harmful emissions during production. Tencel is especially valued for its ability to drape well and form to the body. It can by died a number of rich colors due to its high absorbency and can be fibrillated to have a “peach skin surface” that is soft to the touch.
Bamboo fiber is soft and silky with cashmere-like qualities. Its ability to absorb moisture and draw it away from the skin makes it ideal for sportswear and summer apparel, but it can also keep one quite warm in the winter. It dries faster than alternatives such as cotton. Bamboo itself is a sustainable resource that regenerates on its own, so there is no need for pesticides. Bamboo also cleans the air by absorbing CO2 and can reclaim land that has been damaged by overgrazing and industrialization. Production requires less energy and water, and the fiber is 100% biodegradable.
Hemp is a lightweight material that is both stronger, and more absorbent than cotton. Other fibers are often blended with hemp so that these qualities may be applied to other fabrics. It is UV and mold resistant, making it a good option for clothes to be worn outdoors. Hemp requires little when it comes to production and is cost efficient to farm. It needs little water and is grown without the use of pesticides and fertilizers. One downside is that hemp cannot acquire that stark white color, which is a small price to pay considering it is a renewable resource.
Eco-fi is made from recycled plastic bottles that are transformed into woven fibers. As a result, its production reduces the amount of waste that builds up in landfills. Eco-fi can be blended with wool, tencel, and cotton. It is often used in fleece, making it ideal for vests, jackets, and blankets.
Eco-friendly fashion can be comfortable and rewarding. By tweaking your shopping habits and paying attention to the origins of the clothes you purchase, you can take part in a much needed fashion movement. Let’s make green fashion a permanent trend!