Based on industry recommendations, a great starting point to make more informed decisions would be the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard. According to them, the following approach is best to determine how environmentally friendly your garments are, and how sustainability plays into the supply chain of a product from start to finish. Summed up in these five points:
Material health: This ensures products are made using chemicals that are as safe as possible for humans and the environment. Manufacturers can even earn further certification in this field to meet material health requirements.
Material Reutilisation: This aims to eliminate the concept of waste by helping to ensure products remain in perpetual cycles of use and reuse from one product use cycle to the next.
Renewable Energy & Carbon Management: This determines if products are manufactured using renewable energy, so that the impact of harmful greenhouse gases is reduced or eliminated.
Water Stewardship: This category ensures water is recognised as a valuable resource, watersheds are protected, and clean water is available to people and all other organisms.
Social Fairness: This aims to design business operations that honour all people and natural systems affected by the manufacture of a product.
There’s a huge push toward being more conscious as a whole, and we’re here for it. So what are the types of materials that fit the bill? We have put together a list of the best recycled, human-made and plant-sourced fibres for you to start with:
- Recycled fabrics: Recycling and reusing materials such as cotton, wool, nylon, cashmere, and polyester are on the rise. Compared to regular polyester, the recycled kind is generally made from recycled plastic bottles, and takes roughly half as much energy to create. It’s an excellent way to divert plastic from clogging up landfills.
- Human-made cellulose fibres: Things get quite interesting here, as we see materials like orange fibre and pineapple fibre making waves in the industry. Orange fibre is made from orange skins that are a by-product of waste from juice manufacturing, and pineapple fibre (or Piñatex) actually comes from pineapple leaves that would go to waste during pineapple harvests. In addition, you also get the more well-known organic cotton, sustainable bamboo, and lyocell (which is 100% biodegradable) in this category.
- Plant-sourced fibres: These fibres are sourced from plants such as flax (used to make linen), hemp (a material similar to linen), jute, and stinging nettle.
Some of these fabrics are definitely more common than others, and what’s truly great is that this list is always expanding. With innovation and demand for sustainable resources in the clothing manufacturing industry at an all-time high, we love that more and more labels are turning greener. It’s a great colour on us.