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17 Most Sustainable Fabrics: Your Ultimate Guide

A woman wearing sustainable fabrics holds up a pair of hemp underwear from WAMA.

The slow fashion movement is making a splash, which is probably why you’ve seen more sustainable fabrics in your favorite stores these days. Eco friendly fabrics are on-trend, and you can find many sustainable fashion blogs promoting sustainable underwear and other clothing that’s actually within budget—whoop!

But if you’re at all confused about which fabric is actually sustainable, then leave it to me! Read on to discover what fabric is what, because when you know what you’re looking for, it’s a lot easier to find fashion that’s good for your body, the environment, and the people making your clothes.

WHAT ARE SUSTAINABLE FABRICS?

Sustainable fabrics are textile materials that take social and environmental impact into account during growing and production processes. So when you’re wearing your favorite clothes, you’ll know that all the steps—from planting the seed to hugging your hips—were sustainable for everyone (and everything) involved.

A woman stands with her arm crossed over her stomach while wearing hemp underwear from WAMA.

There’s a lot more to sustainable fabrics than just looking for the “organic” label, which can make searching for alternatives a bit challenging. Luckily, according to the Fashion Revolution’s Consumer Survey, the desire for sustainable fashion is on the rise, meaning more people like you and me want to buy eco friendly fabric.

Within the largest consumer markets in the world, 75% of people said they want brands to do more to improve the lives of those making clothes. I know I can agree with that! With 14.2 million people working in the fashion industry in exploitative conditions, that’s a big ask, but an important one. And with 80% of shoppers looking for sustainability certifications when buying clothes, it’ll be harder for those top brands to fake it (aka green washing).

WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING SUSTAINABLE FABRICS?

When buying a sustainable fabric, it helps if you consider a few environmental and social factors. There are many questions you could ask yourself about sustainable fabrics, but here are a few not-so-fun facts that you might find a little, ahem, shocking.

A woman uses a loom to make sustainable fabrics.

ENVIRONMENTAL

  • How much water and land does it require to grow? Fashion and deforestation have something in common: 150 million trees are cut down every year to accommodate growing fashion fibers. And in just one year, the fashion industry uses enough water to fill 32 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.
  • What chemicals are required? I hate to break it to you, but cotton (you know, “the fabric of our lives”) requires a ton of chemicals to grow. It’s actually the third-largest pesticide user of all crops in the United States—over 60 million pounds of pesticides per year!

SOCIAL

  • Are the people making the fabrics paid a fair wage? There’s this interesting graphic that breaks down the cost of an average t-shirt. While the brand makes a 12% profit, the worker who made the garment gets less than 1% of the cost, or about $0.20. During the 2018 World Cup, England’s football team sold their jerseys to fans for over $200 while the workers making the garments earned roughly $2 a day.
  • Is the production process safe for workers? Perhaps you’ve heard of the unsafe work conditions for garment workers. Many work with chemicals or heat in spaces with hot temperatures and no ventilation, which cause them to fall ill or faint. Not to mention, the 2012 and 2013 factory incidents that killed thousands of workers in Pakistan and Bangladesh prove that working conditions in the fashion industry can be lethal.
A woman stands wearing sustainable fabrics, including hemp underwear from WAMA.

That’s a lot to think about and difficult to stomach. You probably don’t want the act of buying a t-shirt to cost someone their life or add to deforestation. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, sit back and grab a kombucha! I did the work for you and compiled a list of the 17 best sustainable fabrics. This way, you can shop with your mind at ease knowing you’re not adding to the environmental or social problems caused by the fashion industry.


17 MOST SUSTAINABLE FABRICS


1. HEMP

 A woman sitting on a bed wears hemp underwear from WAMA.

I gotta start with my favorite eco friendly fabric, hemp! Hemp fashion is gaining more and more ground because manufacturers are starting to realize it’s one of the most sustainable fabrics out there.

WHY IT'S A SUSTAINABLE FABRIC

  • Hemp is an eco friendly fabric, but it’s also a sustainable crop, meaning the growing process uses absolutely no artificial fertilizers or pesticides. And before harvest, the hemp plant drops its leaves to add nutrients to the soil, rather than some plants (ahem, cotton) that deplete the soil.
  • Hemp fabric has many perks that make it more sustainable. For example, it’s an extremely durable fabric, so it lasts a long time. It also makes naturally antibacterial underwear, clothes, linens, etc., without requiring chemicals. It’s naturally resistant to mold, so your clothes and other hemp products won’t smell.

Hemp is like a long-term relationship, as it gets better and better over time. Using and washing it softens the fabric without losing its durability and strength. So you get a natural textile without the stiffness. It’s perfect for women’s underwear styles like a hemp bra, men's underwear styles like mens boxers, bedding, or homegoods.

WHERE TO FIND IT:


2. LINEN

A woman sitting on a bench wears a linen dress from Pyne and Smith.

Another eco friendly fabric that I love is linen. It’s not as great as hemp, but it’s still an excellent sustainable option. And if you pay any attention to fashion, you know linen is timeless.

WHY IT'S A SUSTAINABLE FABRIC

  • Linen has been around a long time, like 36,000 years. If that doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will! It’s no longer the staple, but it’s a great sustainable fabric that’s biodegradable and breaks down over the course of years rather than centuries.
  • You may notice it’s a summer staple, and that’s because linen is naturally moisture-wicking—no chemicals needed to keep you cool. It uses 60% less water than cotton and absorbs over two tons of carbon dioxide while growing.

Linen is one of my favorite sustainable fabrics because it’s light, breezy, and somehow stays fashionable.

WHERE TO FIND IT:


3. ORGANIC COTTON

 A man sitting in a chair wears organic cotton jeans from Nudie Jeans.

Cotton makes the bad list (see below), but once you learn the difference between organic cotton vs cotton, you’ll see that the more sustainable of the two is pretty great. Sadly only 0.7% of cotton production is organic, so you can vote with your dollars by avoiding the conventional stuff.

WHY IT'S A SUSTAINABLE FABRIC

  • Organic cotton is far more sustainable than its conventional counterpart. It emits 46% less greenhouse gas and uses 1,982 fewer gallons of water (for just one t-shirt). And in today’s fashion world, you can even find organic cotton jeans, so you’re not restricted to just t-shirts.
  • Organic cotton farming doesn’t use pesticides or chemicals. When buying organic, you don’t have to worry about those common environmental and social concerns, like poisoning workers or waterways.

If you’re a devoted cotton fan, your job is fairly easy: just swap cotton for organic cotton and you’ll be wearing one of the most sustainable fabrics out there!

WHERE TO FIND IT:


4. PINATEX

Two people sitting on a bench wear faux-leather sandals from Nae Vegan Shoes

Pina-what now? Yea, that was my reaction, too, but it turns out Pinatex is an innovative sustainable fabric that replaces leather. It’s an eco friendly fabric that’s cruelty free, as it makes a leather-like material out of… pineapple leaves. I know, how cool, right?!

WHY IT'S A SUSTAINABLE FABRIC

  • It’s a little obvious, but this is non-leather leather, so you’re sparing the lives of many animals by using an alternative material. Plus, Pinatex uses pineapple leaves, which are a byproduct that would have gone to waste.
  • Leather production requires factory farming, which produces 70% of the water pollution in the United States. Plus, cattle ranching accounts for 80% of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. So although not all farmed cattle go to the tannery, the two industries are linked.

One of my favorite parts about finding sustainable fabrics and vegan clothing brands is the innovation behind it. I mean, leather from pineapple leaves as a sustainable byproduct? That’s pretty darn cool.

WHERE TO FIND IT:


5. SEACELL

Two people hiking wear sustainable fabrics from Vuori.

She sells sea shells and makes SeaCell from seaweed! It’s a tongue twister, but the result is super soft, silky fabric made from seaweed and algae. What a world!

WHY IT'S A SUSTAINABLE FABRIC

  • SeaCell uses a closed loop production process, which means no chemicals are released as waste during the manufacturing process. It’s created by embedding the seaweed into cellulose (plant) fibers, maintaining the active ingredients and benefits of the seaweed itself. So you’re literally wearing seaweed, FYI.
  • The fabric is biodegradable and completely carbon neutral, as harvesting seaweed is a gentle and selective process that allows the plant to regenerate without requiring any land, water (you know what I mean), or chemicals.

I never imagined I’d wear something made from a seaweed fabric, but I did grow up on the coast, so I was immediately intrigued. But, to me, what’s even better than the novelty is that it’s a fabric that requires very little of everything—a truly sustainable fabric!

WHERE TO FIND IT:


6. LYOCELL/TENCEL

Three friends riding bikes wear sustainable fabrics from Toad&Co.

Maybe you’ve heard of this one, as many big brands are using lyocell/Tencel with conventional fabrics in an attempt to be more sustainable. You’ll find this blend at brands like H&M, Patagonia, Athleta, and Reformation, which have all started to move away from depending completely on synthetic fabrics.

It’s important to note that H&M and other fast fashion brands have been accused of “greenwashing” by blending this fabric. That’s because fast fashion isn’t ever going to be sustainable, and some of these brands are only using sustainable fabrics in a small portion of their products. But, remember your dollars have a lot of power. If you must shop at these stores, the more you opt for these fabrics, the more you’ll find them in the future.

WHY IT'S A SUSTAINABLE FABRIC

  • Like SeaCell, lyocell/Tencel uses a closed-loop production process, which is one of the most efficient tactics in sustainable manufacturing. Because this eco friendly fabric is made with wood, it requires a solvent to create a pulp. Once the solvent does its job, 99.5% of it is recovered and fed back into the production process, resulting in very little waste.
  • This sustainable fabric uses low impact dyes and processes, resulting in a high dye uptake and reducing inputs into the dyeing process.

Lyocell and Tencel blends are great options if you’re looking to gradually move away from harmful synthetic fabrics, and you’ll find it popping up all over the place these days!

WHERE TO FIND IT:


7. RAMIE/NETTLE

Three women stand wearing clothes made from eco friendly fabric at Savannah Morrow.

Ramie is a plant fiber coming from a species related to stinging nettle, found all over the world. Both ramie and nettle can produce cellulose fibers for textiles, creating an eco friendly fabric similar to linen and hemp.

WHY IT'S A SUSTAINABLE FABRIC

  • There’s evidence that ramie/nettle fiber was used over 5,000 years ago in China, and today it’s mostly used as an alternative to the big-polluter cotton.
  • Ramie/nettle fabric is produced using a retting method, which requires eco friendly hand rolling and scraping to remove the silky fibers (no machines!).

Once the fibers are extracted from the nettle/ramie plant, they can be spun into threads, dyed, and manufactured into textiles! But, keep in mind, because it requires such a labor-intense process, it’s a bit pricier than some other sustainable fabrics.

WHERE TO FIND IT:


8. MYLO

 A woman poses in the forest while wearing Stella McCartney’s line that uses the sustainable fabric mylo in place of leather.

Another leather alternative, mylo fabric is made from mycelium, which is the intricate network of plant fibers/roots found in the soil under mushrooms, plants, trees, and even riverbeds. Big brands like Adidas, Lululemon, and Stella McCartney have all jumped onboard!

WHY IT'S A SUSTAINABLE FABRIC

  • Any plant-based alternative to leather will be more sustainable than the original, but this one goes the extra mile. It’s certified bio-based, meaning it’s made from nearly 100% renewable resources found in nature.
  • The innovators of mylo grow mycelium with vertical farming to reduce their global footprint. The eco friendly fabric is produced in a matter of days, whereas conventional leather requires years and tons of resources.

I get especially excited about alternative leather! I never wear leather clothes, but I forget about all the other things that contain it, like shoes, bags, car seats, furniture, etc. And with big brands like Adidas gradually making the switch, it’s bound to have an impact.

WHERE TO FIND IT:


9. NATURAL RUBBER

A woman strolls down the street wearing plastic-free shoes from Waes.

Isn’t rubber already natural? Well, yes, but nowadays, most rubber (especially that used for shoe soles) is actually synthetic. So going back to natural rubber is the better, more sustainable option.

WHY IT'S A SUSTAINABLE FABRIC

  • Synthetic rubber is essentially plastic (non-renewable), whereas natural rubber comes from the milk of the Hevea tree, which is a renewable resource. Even better, the Hevea tree isn’t harmed in the process, and extracting the milk actually helps the tree develop.
  • Since you don’t have to cut the tree down to extract the milk, natural rubber protects forests and gives living trees value. The product is also recyclable and biodegradable.

Because forests are involved, look for natural rubber with certifications, such as FSC to protect forests and the Fair Rubber Association to protect workers.

WHERE TO FIND IT:


10. SCOBY LEATHER

A woman holds up a faux-leather bag made from scoby, an eco friendly fabric.

By now, you know I love a good leather alternative! So here’s another one: faux leather made from scoby. Ya know, that weird slimy thing you need to make your own kombucha.

WHY IT'S A SUSTAINABLE FABRIC

  • If you’ve ever tried to grow your own scoby, you know that it’s nothing but natural, biodegradable, sustainable, etc. All the things! And, can I be honest here? It’s a little gross, too. So be warned that the leather it creates isn’t quite as smooth and picture-perfect as that from mushroom roots or pineapple leaves.
  • Scoby is cellulose nanofibrils (plant fiber) created using bacteria and yeast. The more you wait, the bigger it gets, and it can be sliced, pressed, dried, and molded into thin layers resembling leather. All this without any chemicals or harmful environmental impact.

What’s extra fun about this sustainable fabric, is that you can make it yourself! Just grow a very big scoby, cut, press, dry, and mold it into a sheet. Then you can cut it and create a bag, wallet, skirt, or whatever you want!

WHERE TO FIND IT:


11. ORANGE FIBER

Salvatore Ferragamo textiles made with orange fibers hang atop pink walls and above blue boxes and oranges.

Another reason to love delicious oranges, besides sweet fruit and fizzy mimosas? You guessed it: sustainable fabrics made from oranges! Specifically, you can create eco friendly fabrics made from orange byproducts (leaves, peels, and pulp).

WHY IT'S A SUSTAINABLE FABRIC

  • From grove byproducts (leaves, stems, plants, etc.) and juicing byproducts (peels and pulp), cellulose from the plant is extracted for its fibers. Then, much like most plant-based materials, the fibers are spun into thread and weaved into fabric. When this is all done with byproduct, sustainability is at its highest!
  • To make it more fabric-like, the innovators of orange fiber typically blend it with lyocell or Tencel, another plant-based material. And, as you may remember, lyocell/Tencel has a closed-loop process, so it creates very little waste.

Delicious clothes and shoes from delicious oranges? It’s possible, and it all started in Sicily, the land of oranges. Although I don’t like promoting fast fashion brands, you can even find orange fabric collaborations at H&M.

WHERE TO FIND IT:


12. CUPRO

A woman standing in front of a brick wall wears a silky-soft shirt from Maven West Clothing

Cupro is an interesting sustainable fabric, as it’s technically artificial cellulose (plant fiber). It’s produced from cotton waste, so it acts more like reclaimed fabric and prohibits the waste from entering waterways.

WHY IT'S A SUSTAINABLE FABRIC

  • It recycles cotton linter (cotton waste/byproduct) that would otherwise be discarded. Linter is the small, silk-like fiber that you find on the cottonseed. Although they’re fine and silky, they’re typically too small to be spun into cotton fabric. You can think about it as both utilizing byproducts and upcycling wasted resources.
  • Like a few of the other most sustainable fabrics above, cupro uses a closed-loop process. So although it requires chemicals, they’re used over and over until they’re gone, leaving very little chemical waste behind. And, you can rest assured that these chemicals are non-toxic!

What’s most interesting to me about cupro is that it’s a mix of all fabric types: material from plants but manufactured with chemicals to create a textile that feels like silk. So you oddly have a synthetic plant-based silk!

WHERE TO FIND IT:


13. ECOVERO

A woman standing on the beach wears colorfully printed ecovero pants by Esprit.

Ecovero is an alternative to viscose fabric. It’s kind of like organic cotton, in that it creates a more environmentally friendly version of a typically damaging material.

WHY IT'S A SUSTAINABLE FABRIC

  • It’s still viscose, but it’s made with wood pulp from sustainably harvested and managed forests and uses a process that requires less energy and water. As a result, ecovero produces about 50% fewer emissions and water pollution than generic viscose.
  • Ecovero is the proud owner of an EU Ecolabel certification, which has very high standards of sustainability, from extraction to the final product.

Much like regenerated or upcycled goods, ecovero is a better alternative than its conventional counterpart. And because it’s a more sustainable version of a very popular material, you can find it in big brands like J. Crew, Reserved, and Esprit.

WHERE TO FIND IT:


14. ECONYL

Two women pose in colorful Leonessa Lingerie using eco friendly fabric.

Econyl falls into the category of “regenerated clothing,” meaning it upcycles discarded material from non-sustainable sources. In econyl’s case, it regenerates nylon material, mostly into swimwear, activewear, and lingerie.

WHY IT'S A SUSTAINABLE FABRIC

  • You’re still wearing nylon, a synthetic fabric that’s not that great for you or the environment. However, you’re preventing textile waste by supporting producers that regenerate nylon into new clothing or goods. So, you’re buying new products without requiring new resources.
  • Much of econyl comes from discarded fishing nets, so not only are you regenerating materials, but you’re preventing one of the ocean’s worst polluters from killing innocent sealife. Discarded fishing nets and other “ghost gear” kill at least 136,000 creatures each year, including seals, sharks, whales, birds, fish, and turtles.

Sustainability can take many forms, as you read about above. It’s not just about using renewable resources to make your clothing. By reusing materials that are already around, you’re turning synthetics into sustainables.

WHERE TO FIND IT:


15. REGENERATED/RECLAIMED/RECYCLED FABRICS

A woman sits on a rock wearing sustainable fabrics from Naz.

Much like econyl above, there are many brands that offer regenerated, reclaimed, and recycled fabrics. Despite many of them being synthetics, they’re still some of the most sustainable fabrics because they are reusing resources rather than extracting new ones.

WHY IT'S A SUSTAINABLE FABRIC

  • By reusing discarded textiles, you’re reducing textile waste, which is a real doozy. On average, Americans throw away 85% of their textiles, so upcycling is very important to reducing land and water pollution.
  • These sustainable methods reuse discarded materials, plastic pollution, fabric waste, and even unused portions of fabric rolls or fabric cut-offs. It’s all collected and upcycled into something new. And because a lot of fashion uses synthetic materials, it can take up to 200 years for textiles to decompose.

There are plenty of brands offering regenerated, recycled, and reclaimed clothing, but you can also practice this method by shopping at second-hand or vintage stores. There are many versions of upcycling!

WHERE TO FIND IT:


SEMI SUSTAINABLE FABRICS THAT MAKE THE LIST


16. BAMBOO

A woman wearing sustainable fabrics from Thought Clothing sits on a stool in front of a window.

I gotta be transparent here—although bamboo makes this list because it’s a robust plant-based fiber, it’s actually a bit harsh on the environment. Say what?! I know, it’s disappointing, but true. Bamboo actually creates a viscose-rayon material, which requires a lot of chemicals to break down the tough fiber of bamboo. Still, there are a few reasons why it’s considered an eco friendly fabric.

WHY IT'S (KINDA) A SUSTAINABLE FABRIC

  • Bamboo is a tough plant that grows like weeds, so the growing process is very sustainable. It requires no fertilizers, pesticides, or replanting, plus very little water and attention. In terms of the most sustainable fabrics, bamboo starts off on top, as it’s one of the most eco friendly plants.
  • Bamboo fabric can be more sustainable if producers blend it with lyocell to cut down on the amount of bamboo required, or use a closed-loop process (again, recycling those chemicals over and over until they’re gone).

So although bamboo beats some conventional materials, it’s not the best nor one of the most sustainable fabrics. It’s on the list, but it’s at the bottom for a reason. Still, take a look around and if you find bamboo clothing with information about the production process, go for it! But, my advice is, when it comes to hemp vs bamboo, always go for hemp.

WHERE TO FIND IT:


17. RESPONSIBLE DOWN

Three women camping use and wear responsible down products from Kathmandu

Confession: I love a down jacket. I lived in Colorado for years and my puffy was a lifesaver. But I knew that my jacket was stuffed with bird feathers, which (had I not chosen the right brand) could’ve been plucked in a very harmful way. Although I have since stopped wearing down, I know it’s still a very popular choice in many parts of the world.

I know the price of a down jacket at a fast fashion shop is tempting, but you have other alternatives. You can buy recycled down that’s diverted from landfills (Patagonia is a big supporter of this) or synthetic down—but be careful about synthetics. If you live in the tundra (or Minnesota, har-har) and still need the real deal, there’s also “responsible down.”

WHY IT'S (KINDA) A SUSTAINABLE FABRIC

  • Conventional down plucks the feathers from birds when they’re still alive. It’s cruel. The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) ensures that those feathers were obtained without unnecessarily harming the animals. There’s no live-plucking or forced eating and the animals are treated with high standards throughout the entire process, from hatching to slaughter.
  • The RDS label was created by a partnership of animal welfare experts, farmers, conservationists, and retailers from around the globe.

You can get really warm winter jackets made with more sustainable fabrics, but responsible down falls into this list because it offers a better alternative than traditional down.  

WHERE TO FIND IT:

A woman wearing toxic synthetic clothing stands at the top of a staircase.


BONUS! WHAT TO AVOID: THE 4 MOST NON-SUSTAINABLE FABRICS

All this research brought about some pretty alarming facts regarding some of the fabrics you and I might find in our closets right now! So I had to include some of the worst contenders. At the very least, you’ll have a list of what to avoid.


1. NYLON/POLYESTER

A woman holds shopping bags while leaning against a wood-paneled wall.

In general, it’s best to avoid synthetic fabrics, as they’re made with lots of chemicals and toxins (including oil)—not good for your skin, the environment, or the garment workers. Unfortunately, a lot of clothing is made with synthetics, or at least blended with them, so read those labels carefully.

WHY IT'S NOT AN ECO FRIENDLY FABRIC

  • Apparently we consume a lot of polyester clothing. Every year, the world uses 70 million barrels of oil to produce polyester fabric—yikes! And because it’s made with oil (and is essentially a plastic), it takes at least 200 years to break down.
  • You’ve probably heard about the horrors of microfibers (aka, super tiny bits of plastic from our clothes) polluting our waterways. Polyester is the biggest culprit, releasing 700,000 of them each time you wash your synthetic clothing.  

HOW TO AVOID IT:

  • Read labels carefully and learn the names of its toxic siblings: nylon, rayon, etc.
  • If you have polyester clothing now, try to wash it less frequently.
  • Don’t buy new clothes with polyester. Instead, go thrift shopping or peruse second-hand stores.


2. RAYON/VISCOSE

Two women shopping at the mall look at clothes in a fast fashion store.

Rayon is a little sneaky, because it’s a fiber made from plant cellulose, which I thought was a good thing. But the process of making rayon is harmful, so it’s definitely not a sustainable fabric.

WHY IT'S NOT AN ECO FRIENDLY FABRIC

  • Although some forms of rayon could be sustainable, most are not. The fashion industry depends on rayon/viscose a lot, so many manufacturers cut corners. For example, this fabric requires cutting down 70 million trees each year, many coming from endangered forests.  
  • The manufacturing process uses a lot of chemicals, solvents, energy, and water.

HOW TO AVOID IT:

  • Research brands using other forms of rayon/viscose that might be more sustainable, like bamboo, lyocell, Tencel, cupro, and modal. Some companies use the closed-loop process and other tactics to avoid chemical waste and make the fabric more sustainable.


3. COTTON

A woman browses a rack of clothing in a shop selling cotton clothing.

Oh, my friend cotton. Organic cotton makes the list of the most sustainable fabrics, but conventional cotton is one of the worst fabrics environmentally.

WHY IT'S NOT AN ECO FRIENDLY FABRIC

  • Cotton uses a lot of water and chemicals. Despite using less land than other crops (only 2.4% of cultivated land), it consumes 16% of the world’s insecticides.
  • Exposure to pesticides causes 200,000 deaths per year and contributes to diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and developmental disorders. Farmers and garment workers (and you and me wearing the clothes) all suffer.

HOW TO AVOID IT:

  • Opt for organic cotton—you don’t have to give up that softness! Right now, less than 1% of the world’s cotton is organic, so the more you and I buy, the more in demand it will be.
  • Look out for tricky labeling. Some brands promoting organic cotton only use a small percentage of it and fill the rest in with conventional cotton or synthetics.


4. ACRYLIC

A woman shopping in the mall checks the price of a synthetic jacket.

You’ll find acrylic fabrics in those mimicking the softness of wool or cashmere. But it’s a synthetic fabric, so it’s very similar to polyester.

WHY IT'S NOT AN ECO FRIENDLY FABRIC

  • Acrylic is derived from petroleum (oil), which pollutes water, disrupts ecosystems, and emits harmful greenhouse gases into the air. And when considering all synthetics, 63% of textiles are made with oil.
  • Acrylic is the third-most produced synthetic—it’s not biodegradable and it sheds the most microfibers of any material when washing.

HOW TO AVOID IT:

  • Get soft clothing from more sustainable fabrics, like organic cotton. If you must have that ultra softness, then check your labels and do a little research to find wool manufacturers that are good to animals.

Two people holding hands wear some of the most sustainable fabrics.

CONCLUSION: SUSTAINABLE FABRICS

The fashion industry has a huge global footprint, but you don’t have to contribute to it. With this list of the most sustainable fabrics (and the least sustainable fabrics), you know what to buy and what to avoid.

Some of these alternatives are already making their way into mainstream fashion, meaning they’re a bit easier on the wallet. But I get it—not everyone can afford fancy eco-clothes made with seaweed. But, trust me, there’s some seriously cool, innovative, and affordable ethical clothing out there!

Okay, I have to know which fabric you think is the most interesting! Let me know in the comments. My vote is a tie between seaweed and oranges!



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