Did you know that 4% of the world’s drinking water is used to produce our clothes?
That it takes the equivalent of 285 showers to make one pair of jeans?
That the fashion industry emits 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas every year?
Eating organic, using organic or homemade cosmetics, cleaning the house with ecological products, everyone is trying hard to meet the challenges of the ecological transition. But we all too often forget that our wardrobe is filled with fibers and materials harmful to both the environment and to our health. Indeed, fashion would be the second most polluting sector, just after the oil industry!
But who said it was impossible to reconcile fashion and ecology?
To help consumers make responsible choices, the fashion industry is undergoing today profound changes and many manufacturers are turning to eco-design; clothing made from organic and natural materials, free of pesticides is slowly replacing harmful, synthetic products. Starting with the garment production stage, manufacturers are playing a key role in encouraging eco-friendlier options and a more sustainable supply of materials. As such, the market of eco fibers is rising, and expected to reach $69 million by 2025.
8 natural materials that are good to the environment and to you:
1. Organic cotton
Cotton is the most consumed textile fiber in the world. However, its manufacture involves the use of pesticides and bleaching agents harmful to humans and the environment. Its culture is also very harmful to the natural resources, requiring more than 5000L of water to produce 1 kg of cotton. Organic cotton requires less water. Softer, it has the advantage of being hypoallergenic (unlikely to cause an allergic reaction). Moreover, it is grown without GMOs, pesticides or chemicals.
2. Organic hemp
Organic hemp is a popular material used in ecological textiles for its pure and natural fibers. Easy to cultivate, this material requires little water, little fertilizer, does not require a phytosanitary product (relating to the health of plants). However, always go for organic hemp. This plant has the advantage of growing quickly, so hemp production has little impact on the environment. Even if hemp remains expensive, it has advantages: its material is very resistant and can be worn both in summer and winter while protecting you from UV rays.
Flax is a natural fiber that requires little fertilizer and no pesticides, but we must nonetheless go for the organic type. Produced 80% in Europe, this material represents only 1% of the textile fibers used in the world. In addition to respecting the environment, the cultivation of flax fiber has many advantages: it is biodegradable, hypoallergenic, resistant, insulating and light.
4. Vegetable-tanned leather
Vegetable-tanned leather is revolutionizing the fashion world. It differs from classic leather by its tanning mode: vegetable leather uses plant active ingredients, unlike animal leather that uses polluting products like heavy metals and minerals, to be then thrown into nearby rivers, causing pollution of waters and soils. Leather can also be made from food waste.
Example: Matt & Nat
Also called vegetable cashmere, lenpur is made from white pine branches that only grow in China and Canada. These branches come from pruned wood and not from felled wood, which does not encourage deforestation and respects standards in terms of environmental sustainability. The properties of white pine make it a quality material including a softness similar to cashmere, a thermoregulatory aspect and a quality three times better than cotton because it resists washing at high pressure.
Example: Do You Green
6. Ingeo fiber
This biodegradable material comes from corn sugar and is obtained by fermentation, distillation and polymerization. Ingeo fiber is environmentally friendly because it is bio-compostable, made from renewable components and emits little CO2. Antiacarian, it is also hypoallergenic, absorbent, regulates body temperature and is shock resistant. It is used in sportswear most particularly.
7. Coffee ground fiber
Coffee ground is a key raw material that can be used in a variety of products, from outdoor and sportswear to household items. Fabrics made from coffee ground fibers showcase excellent natural anti-dour qualities, UV ray protection and a quick drying time. The coffee grounds used are taken and recycled from some of the world’s largest coffee vendors, like Starbucks. In this way, the company gives a second life to coffee grounds which would have otherwise ended up in trash bins.
Discovered in the late 1980s, lyocell fiber comes from the cellulose of Asian eucalyptus wood from sustainable forests. Its manufacture does not require harmful solvents or pollutants and its material is eco-friendly. Lyocell has properties similar to wool but is 50% more absorbent than the latter. It is also softer than silk and linen.
Eco fibers are rapidly gaining popularity. However, increasing demand for synthetic fibers that are cheaper than organic cotton is likely to preempt the rise of the eco fiber-based textile industry in the near future, affecting their market at large.