Fashionable eco-friendly fabrics: why they make a difference

November 26, 2014

More than ever people are using eco-friendly fabrics in fashion and home decor—for good reason. But what exactly is aneco-friendly fabric? And why do they make a difference?
Opting for eco-friendly fabrics is a way to make aesthetics rhyme with ethics, and not only for fashionable hippies. Although these textiles weren’t considered glamorous even a few years ago, they are now available in a wide range of inspiring creations and are anchor pieces in a number of fashion and home decor collections.

The scary scoop about regular textiles

Ammonia, sulfuric acid, heavy metals and chlorine are just a few of the toxic products used in conventional textile factories on a daily basis.

  • According to the UnitedNations EnvironmentProgram, cotton fields account for less than three per cent of the planet’s cultivated land, but receive 25 per cent of the insecticides used worldwide and 10 per cent of the herbicides.

That makes the textile industry one of the most polluting on the planet, which is definitely something worth thinking about.

How eco-friendly fabrics make a difference

Given that more than half the textiles produced around the world are made with petroleum-derived synthetic fibers, these alternative fabrics bring a breath of fresh air to fabric suppliers.

But what exactly is an eco-friendly fabric?It is a textile whose raw materials come from an organic farmed-fiber operation. Each step, from the chemical-free processing to the distribution, must respect strict rules and labor standards:

  • Where and how was the fabric manufactured?
  • How many kilometres did it travel before it was purchased?

These are all major concerns that make a fabric eco-friendly, both environmentally and socially.

Time to choose

Apart from organic cotton (and some novelty fabrics), here are the main eco-friendly textiles.

  • Hemp is one of the least polluting natural fibers. Contrary to popular belief, this fabric can be soft and silky.
  • Organic silk is harvested from silkworms that are hormone- and antibiotic-free.
  • Nettle fiberhas been used to make clothing since the Middle Ages; this so-called weed is a source material for fabric with excellent insulating properties.
  • Soy fiberis smooth to the touch and provides great warmth; it has truly earned its nickname as the cashmere plant. On the downside, the processing of soy fiber requires the use of chemical solvents.
  • Bamboo fabric is soft, water-repellent and odor-resistant. Bamboo is easy to cultivate without pesticides. However, it does require the use of chemicals for its transformation into viscose.

The good news? Several Canadian textile producers and clothing designers have begun to go green and now offer eco-friendly fabrics at retail shops. Keep your eyes peeled for these excellent choices.

Fashionable eco-friendly fabrics: why they make a difference
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