It’s important to consider the entirety of the fabrics lifespan, from seed to garment to grave. We consider most organic fibres (fabrics that are, quite literally, fashioned from nature) to be sustainable for two main reasons. Firstly, they’re readily renewable, so they don’t diminish or deplete our resources. Secondly, they’re biodegradable, so their production, use, and distant disposal doesn't harm the environment – because of this, they also don’t release toxic substances like micro-plastics when being washed, unlike their synthetic counterparts.
Tencel™ lyocell – also known as rayon (in it’s sustainable form) – is an environmentally responsible, regenerated cellulose fibre that has both a low ecological impact and a high resource efficiency. It's extracted from sustainably grown wood pulp using a closed-loop production process, which minimises the generation of waste and damaging by-products as it recycles virtually all of the substances it uses. Tencel™ is derived from fast-growing eucalyptus trees in PEFC certified forests, using no fertilisers, pesticides or irrigation. Tencel™ fibres are also OEKO tex standard 100 certified.
Cotton is a world favourite fabric, but organic cotton (the good kind) constitutes less than 1% of the global cotton production. Organic cotton is cultivated using non-genetically modified cottonseeds. It’s production process doesn’t face the same environmental challenges that confronts the cultivation of conventional cotton because it doesn’t involve the use of non-toxic fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides. Instead, traditional farming methods, like crop-rotation, are used in order to ensure and preserve soil fertility. Organic cotton also uses around 70% less water than the production of its conventional cotton counterpart. It takes roughly 25 weeks until the cotton bolls are ready to be harvested, after which the fibres are handpicked, cleaned, compressed, spun into yarns, and knitted into fabric.
Fibres derived from the hemp plant form entirely eco-friendly fabrics, for many reasons. Hemp is an incredibly fast growing plant, which requires little water and energy, and can be grown without the use of fertilisers, pesticides and insecticides. The plant also aids in soil regeneration, so it doesn’t exhaust the soil fertility over time. Because of this, hemp fibres actually have the lowest ecological footprint of all fabrics.
Linen is a natural bast fibre that is derived from the outer stem of flax plants. The flax plant requires far fewer resources, like water and energy, than its counterparts. For example, 60% less water is required in the production of flax in comparison to conventional cotton (not organic cotton). The flax plant, during their growth, actually has a positive impact on the environment since they have a high rate of carbon absorption; up to 2.1 tons of co2 are absorbed per ton of flax cellulose produced. The flax plant is renewable, recyclable and readily biodegradable, and it’s a zero-waste resource.
Cupro is a silky fabric made from regenerated cellulose fibres from linter cotton (aka, cotton waste). Cupro is another fabric made in a closed-loop process, like Tencel, meaning that the water and other substances involved in its production are constantly reused and recycled. All substances used in its production are non-toxic, therefore they don’t harm the environment nor the workers involved in their creation.