As we’ve already said, eco-friendly textiles play a key role when it comes to sustainable fashion. But what exactly are they?
Eco-fabrics are made with fibres with a low environmental footprint. In order to call them as such, except in very rare cases, a textile certification ensuring the label is "ecological" is required.
For example, we can call cotton an eco-fibre when it has been certified with the Global Organic Textile Standard, which guarantees the organic origin of the fibres.
Or we can call viscose "ecological" when it is certified as OEKO-TEX, which ensures that environmentally harmful chemicals such as soda (commonly used as a solution to make this type of artificial material) are not used.
Are there eco-fabrics that don’t have a textile certification? Yes, hemp is definitely one of them. The topic we need to focus on is the guarantee, and the only reliable one, in addition to promises, are labels, certifications, controls, rules and production standards.
A fabric is eco-friendly when a label confirms that it is eco-friendly. And that means, unfortunately, that an eco-fabric will put a bigger dent in your wallet while having a lower cost for the environment.
It is up to us to choose which way to go.
To make it easier to understand, we can divide eco-fabrics into 3 main groups. Firstly, there are the natural tissues, which also include organic tissues. Secondly we have artificial tissues and thirdly, synthetics.
Are those fabrics made from 100% natural raw materials of plant or animal origin. Although they are "natural", it does not mean that they are eco-friendly in spite of the presence or absence of textile certifications.
However, there are exceptions: hemp. Cultivating hemp does not require great environmental controls as it usually grows spontaneously and it does not need pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers.
The processing of hemp is still very manual, so it can be considered an eco-fibre regardless of certification.
Leaving hemp aside, natural fabrics are eco-friendly when they have textile certifications that attest to low environmentally footprint of their production.
Are those fabrics made by man in a laboratory. They differ from synthetic fabrics as they use a natural raw material as the main ingredient, rather than an oil derivative. Whether they are derived from wood pulp, food waste, animal proteins, they are all are part of the macro-category called "viscose".
However, they are mixed with chemicals so textile certifications play a key role in defining these fabrics as eco-friendly.
We see them as the sustainable fibres of the future since they offer huge advantages, both for the environment and in terms of comfort:
1) They use natural raw materials, usually derived from the many food industry waste products and are therefore biodegradable.
2) Thanks to the evolution of science, they can guarantee high performance, unlike natural fabrics that haven’t changed for centuries.
Artificial fabrics are eco-friendly when they have textile certifications that ensure they are produced in a way that leaves a small environmental footprint.
These are man-made fabrics, usually produced using an oil product as raw material. Is it possible to find eco-friendly synthetic fibres on the market? You could say so, at least in part.
Think about plastic and how much we've produced over the years. We could consider it as "an absolute evil", but the wisest thing would be to consider it a resource. We certainly can't burn it.
We see synthetic fabrics derived from recycled plastic as a material; therefore as an eco- fabric, we would ideally stop producing it today and start recycling until it is completely used up.
Fabrics made from recycled plastic still shed those famous micro plastics, but these are undoubtedly "the lesser evil" to the tons of plastic thrown into the earth and the oceans.Synthetic fabrics are environmentally friendly when they have textile certifications that ensure they are produced in a way that leaves a small environmental footprint.
We believe that the answer to this question lies in every line of this article: - fabrics are essential because you cannot talk about sustainable fashion without them..
However, we have to insert a few caveats here, and it concerns Slow Fashion: traditional, artisanal and local manufacturers that use recycled materials.
So would you like to buy ethical and eco-friendly products? Slow Nature is the right place to come because it offers an exclusive online collection of sustainable fashion.
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