A Guide On Sustainable Fabrics

Sustainability has become an increasingly important issue in today’s world, as we strive to balance our needs with the health of our planet. Clothing is no exception to this, as the industry poses unique challenges such as intensive agriculture, industrial pollution, and waste. However, promising solutions are emerging from new technology and conscientious production methods.

One of the most exciting developments in sustainable clothing is the emergence of alternative fabrics, which are becoming more readily available to the sewing community. These materials are often derived from natural sources and have a much lower environmental impact than traditional fabrics like cotton or polyester. For example, bamboo fabric is made from the fast-growing bamboo plant, which requires no pesticides or fertilisers to grow and can be harvested annually.

In this post we explore the most sustainable fabric options currently available.

Organic Fabric:

Organic fabric is a type of textile that is made from natural fibres that have been grown without the use of harmful chemicals or synthetic pesticides. These fabrics are often made from materials like cotton, hemp, and bamboo, and are becoming increasingly popular due to their Eco-friendly properties.

Organic cotton is probably the most readily available organic fabric. Organic cotton is a type of cotton that is grown using natural techniques to foster growth. Unlike conventional cotton farming, organic farmers do not use synthetic pesticides, fertilisers, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their farming practices. Instead, they rely on natural methods such as crop rotation, composting, and natural pest control to promote healthy soil and plant growth.

One of the most significant benefits of organic cotton farming is its contribution to combating climate change. Organic farming practices promote carbon-storing healthy soils, which can help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Additionally, by using natural methods to promote healthy soil, organic farmers can help prevent soil degradation, which is a major contributor to climate change.

Another significant benefit of organic cotton farming is its ability to protect and save water. Soils that are managed using organic farming techniques act like sponges, absorbing excess water during floods and releasing it slowly during dry periods. This helps to prevent soil erosion and reduces the amount of water needed for irrigation.

Finally, organic cotton farmers use crop rotation to effectively control pests and diseases. By planting different crops in the same field in different years, farmers can reduce the build-up of pests and diseases that can damage crops. This reduces the need for synthetic pesticides and promotes a healthier ecosystem.

Recycled Fabric:

Recycled fabric is a sustainable option that is becoming increasingly popular. This fabric is made from materials that have been used before and would otherwise end up in landfill. One of the most common sources of recycled fabric is plastic bottles, which are turned into polyester fibres.

Compared to virgin polyester, recycled fabric has a significantly lower environmental impact. The production of virgin polyester requires large amounts of energy and produces greenhouse gas emissions, while recycled polyester requires less energy and reduces the amount of waste in landfills. Additionally, recycling plastic bottles helps to reduce the amount of plastic pollution in our oceans and waterways.

ECONYL is a revolutionary product. It is a regenerated nylon that is made from discarded nylon materials, such as fishing nets, fabric scraps, and carpet flooring. What’s amazing about ECONYL is that it has the same properties as brand-new nylon, making it a versatile and durable material for a range of uses.

One of the key benefits of ECONYL is its recyclability. ECONYL can be recycled multiple times, allowing for a circular economy where waste materials are repurposed and transformed into new products. This reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and oceans and helps to conserve natural resources.

Tencel

Tencel is a fabric that is becoming increasingly popular due to its Eco-friendly production process and soft, comfortable feel. It is crafted from responsibly sourced wood and manufactured using methods that prioritize resource efficiency and minimise environmental impact. This means that not only is Tencel a sustainable fabric, but it is also incredibly soft and comfortable to wear. The wood used to create Tencel is harvested from sustainably managed forests, and the manufacturing process uses a closed-loop system that recycles up to 99% of the solvents and water used in the process. This results in a fabric that is not only gentle on the environment but also on the skin.

Responsibly Manufactured

Some fabrics are produced more responsibly than others. For example, some suppliers work with organisations like the Better Cotton Initiative to ensure that their cotton is grown in an environmentally sustainable manner and that workers are treated fairly.

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is a non-profit organisation that works with cotton farmers and other stakeholders to promote sustainable cotton farming practices. BCI’s mission is to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in, and better for the sector’s future.

By partnering with organisations like BCI, manufacturers, and retailers can ensure that the cotton they use in their products is produced in a way that is both socially and environmentally responsible, to make responsibly manufactured fabrics. This can include using less water and pesticides, ensuring fair labour practices, and reducing the overall environmental impact of cotton farming.

Deadstock

From textile and garment manufacturing processes. Deadstock fabric can be considered as excess fabric that was not used in the manufacturing process and was not sold to the end consumer. This surplus fabric is often sold to wholesalers, retailers, and individuals at a discounted price, making it a popular choice for sustainable fashion designers and creators.

Using deadstock fabric is a sustainable alternative to producing new fabrics, as it re-purposes excess material that would otherwise go to waste.

Biodegradable Fabric

Biodegradable fabrics are made from natural materials that can decompose over time, leaving behind fewer harmful chemicals and reducing waste. Some popular options for biodegradable fabrics include wool, cotton, hemp, linen, and bamboo.

Wool can easily break down in the environment without causing harm to the ecosystem. When wool products are disposed of, they are typically broken down by microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, in the soil. These microorganisms break down the wool fibres into smaller molecules that can be absorbed by plants and other organisms.

The bio-degradation process of wool is aided by the fact that wool fibres are composed of a protein called keratin. This protein is a natural substance that can be easily broken down by microorganisms, which in turn helps to speed up the bio-degradation process.

Biodegrading wool can take some time and is influenced by various factors, such as temperature, moisture, and the presence of other substances in the environment. However, with proper disposal methods and a suitable environment, wool can biodegrade and contribute to a healthier ecosystem.

Cotton fabric is a popular and versatile material that can be found in many different forms. One of the benefits of cotton fabric is that it is a biodegradable option, it can naturally decompose over time and not cause harm to the environment.

When cotton fabric is disposed of in a landfill, it can take several months to several years to break down, depending on the conditions present. However, when cotton is composted, it can decompose in as little as two weeks. Composting cotton fabric is a great way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for gardening.

Hemp, linen, and bamboo fabrics are also known for their biodegradability. These fabrics are made from natural fibres that are derived from plants, which means they can break down naturally over time. 

Re-purposing And Using What You Own:

Reusing textiles that we already own can be a fantastic way to promote sustainability in our clothing choices. By re-purposing items in our wardrobe or using old curtains and duvet covers, we can help reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.

One way to reuse textiles is to up-cycle them into new clothing items or home decor pieces. For example, you could turn an old dress into a skirt, or use a duvet cover to make pyjamas. You can easily give your old clothes a new lease of life by adding a few embellishments or altering the design to suit your current style.

When looking for sustainable fabrics less is more. This means that the fewer resources and energy used to produce the material, the better it is for the environment.

It is also essential to look for certifications when sourcing sustainable fabrics. Certifications such as Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and OEKO-TEX Standard 100 ensure that the material is Eco-friendly and does not contain any harmful chemicals. Additionally, doing your research is crucial when it comes to sourcing sustainable fabrics. Look for brands that are transparent about their commitment to sustainability.

At Bobbins & Bobbins, you can find a wide variety of sustainable fabrics available to buy in 10cm increments. We are committed to sourcing Eco-friendly fabrics. The range includes organic and certified sustainable fabrics. By choosing sustainable fabrics, you can make a positive impact on the environment while still enjoying beautiful, high-quality fabric.

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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...

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