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The 10 newest sustainable materials for your trendy clothing

Updated: 5 days ago

Do you wanna wear cool clothes while being eco-friendly?


First, we've got to put the breaks on fast fashion sustainability issues


How?


Simple. We need to use more sustainable clothing materials!


Textile production may account for up to 60% of total CO2 emissions by 2030.


But we’re still in time to stop this!


Environmentally sound textiles companies have sprung up over the last years, offering eco-conscious alternatives for sustainable fashion brands.


Let’s run through the most trailblazing sustainable fashion materials currently on the market, including examples of natural fabrics, circular economy product ideas and much more!


Contents


1) Mushroom textiles

2) Hemp fabrics

3) Water-friendly organic cotton

4) Carbon negative polyester

5) Recycled polyester

6) Greener dyes

7) TencelTM fibers

8) Renewable cellulose

9) The upcyclable fiber

10) Circular fibers

Conclusions


1) Mushroom textiles


No hallucinations, you read that right!


Mushrooms are kind of magic as they are used for literally anything, including high end vegan clothing!


Neffa picked up this fungal trend by mixing compostable mushroom roots (Mycelium) with other textiles to form their myco-fashion product, a.k.a. MycoTex.



Besides being a natural raw material, Mycelium has got good insulating and moisture-absorbing properties, which many textiles lack. That's why mushrooms are the kings of sustainable fashion materials.


The harvest of this eco-friendly creation will optimise the garments manufacturing process, thus reducing the amount of clothing waste in landfills.


2) Hemp fabrics


Hemp is another multipurpose gift of mother nature.


It doesn’t require chemicals to grow and rapidly regenerates itself, thus representing a perfect example of what a sustainable fabric is.


Thanks to its strength and durability, hemp is an organic source for making long-lasting fabrics.


hemp used for sustainable textiles

Image source


But is hemp fabric biodegradable as well?


Sure! It’s a type of biomass and one of the best sustainable clothing materials we could use. That's because once the hemp-containing clothes have reached their end of life, the hemp fibers will have no lasting impact on the environment.


We could say “Hemp Makes It Better”, as Bear Fiber’s motto suggests.


This US pioneer in using hemp for clothing made the first American hemp-based socks ever. This company is also supporting local farmers, which are growing hemp for textiles.


3) Water-friendly organic cotton


First, what is the difference between organic and nonorganic cotton?


To be organic, cotton should be farmed without spraying any chemicals (pesticides and fertilisers) on crops.


Anyway, there’s another major issue with cotton: It requires water galore to grow.


In “clothing terms”, 2,700 litres for a single T-shirt!


And this is a huge problem as we’re running out of water due to climate change!


That's why cotton (especially the non-organic one) can't be included in the list of sustainable materials for our clothing.


Luckily, companies like hydroCotton (now called Materra) are testing the water to find a more eco-friendly option.


organic cotton

Image source


This London-based startup is growing organic cotton using 80% less water and emitting 30% less CO₂ compared to conventional cotton farming.


How have they achieved that?


They water the cotton plants at their roots, thus maximising absorption, and recover any loss.


After conducting an initial pilot, Materra is currently up-scaling their farm in Gujarat (India) to supply water-friendly organic cotton to fashion brands.


4) Carbon negative polyester


Polyester is a synthetic fiber (plastic) present in 60% of our clothing and has become the symbol of the fast fashion industry.


Due to how polyester is produced, its global demand is responsible for nearly 70 million barrels of oil burned each year, thus adding to the environmental impact of fossil fuels.


But Fairbrics is coming to the rescue!


This company made a carbon negative polyester by upcycling CO2.


How does it work?


how polyester is produced in a more eco-friendly way

Image source


Essentially, they turned CO2 industrial waste into a polyester manufacturing component.


With this scientific gimmick, Fairbrics implemented two carbon footprint reduction initiatives in one go:


1) reduce the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere

2) minimise the environmental impact of polyester as fewer fossil fuels are burned during its production


5) Recycled polyester


Is polyester recyclable?


It seems so based on what PHOENXT is doing.


This sustainable textile brand is reducing carbon emissions from plastic production with an advanced system that recycles polyester from used textiles and converts it into new fibers.



The company says their separation technology could save 22.2 million tonne of waste polyester.


Plus, their polyester recycling process emits 30% less CO2 compared to virgin polyester production.


6) Greener dyes


It’s nice to show off colorful clothes, right?


But what's the impact of wearing bright jazzy outfits?


Once again, you need to consider the textile industry and its effect on the environment.


Textiles are “stained” by chemical substances (dyes or pigments) through a dyeing process.


The problem is residual dyes can’t be easily removed from the process wastewater, thus ending up into the environment.


eco-friendly dyes for sustainable clothing

Image source


Dyes damage the aquatic environment and, when entering the food chain, can cause cancer.


That’s why the work of companies like Imogo is super important. This Swedish company developed a low-impact dying technology achieving a 90% wastewater reduction.


This March Imogo’s dyeing machine will be up and running for the first time in a Dyehouse.


7) TencelTM fibers


Being the sustainable alternative to cotton, TencelTM textiles seem to be the new frontier in the slow fashion world.


But what is a TencelTM fabric?


Its raw material, TencelTM, was first created by the Austrain company Lenzig who used this name to brand lyocell and modal fibers.


This cellulose filament is obtained by dissolving the responsibly sourced wood of the Eucalyptus fast growing (renewable) tree species into pulp.


production process of a Tencel-based sustainable fiber

Image source


Recycling water and solvents, TencelTM production process is in line with a circular economy approach.


One of the TencelTM key properties is breathability, which makes it ideal for activewear.


TencelTM garments, described by Lenzig as a sensory feast for the skin, are now found in the collections of many popular fashion brands.


8) Renewable cellulose


Another Swedish company, re:newcell, designed a circular upgrade of the TencelTM making process.


How?


Instead of dissolving wood, they use 100% textile waste (worn-out cotton jeans and production scraps) which are converted into their upcycling masterpiece Circulose®.


textiles made by upcycling cellulose

Image source


The company boasts Circulose® (basically recycled cellulose) to be more natural and biodegradable than pristine cellulose, which is the most abundant organic substance on our planet.


Circulose® has already been used by top brands like Levi’s® to create the most sustainable jean ever.


9) The upcyclable fiber


Spinnova claims to have designed the most sustainable fiber in the world.


So, what’s so special about it?


They use either FSC and/or PEFC certified wood or waste cellulose as a raw material, thus making their sources eco-conscious and 100% biodegradable.


These sustainable textile designers optimised their production process, which requires no chemicals and 99.5% less water than the “thirsty” cotton.



But the groundbreaking environmental benefit of this sustainable fashion material is being “upcyclable”!


Why is upcycling good for the environment?


A material that can be upcycled, like the Spinnova fiber, doesn’t lose its quality over time (or it gains quality sometimes).


This means no new fibers need to be introduced within the manufacturing process.


10) Circular fibers


Let’s close this top ten with someone else closing the loop on the environmental issues with fast fashion.


Bad news is every year 87% of the clothing materials end up polluting the environment.


Good news is Evrnu invented NuCycl, a revolutionary technology to say goodbye to fast fashion waste!



Through a process called repolymerization, NuCycl turns used garments into high-quality fibers, giving old clothes a new life.


This regenerative technique seems to be the triumph of circular fashion!


Conclusions


As you can see, there are plenty of green innovations which could refresh our wasteful fast fashion wardrobe.


This trendy combination of sustainable fashion materials and circular processes will make our clothing more eco-friendly.


But it’s up to us as well.


As responsible consumers, we can play a pivotal role in supporting sustainable fashion by raising awareness and making the right choices.


Will you take on the challenge?

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