Sustainable fashion has become increasingly popular in recent years as consumers become more aware of the environmental impact of the fashion industry. One of the key components of sustainable fashion is choosing fabrics that are eco-friendly and have a lower impact on the environment.
When choosing the right sustainable fabric for your custom clothing, there are strategies that you can keep in mind to keep sustainability in mind.
Carefully Consider Fabrics
Choosing the right sustainable fabric for your custom clothing requires careful consideration of various factors. There are many great sustainable fabric options to consider, such as organic cotton, linen, hemp, recycled polyester, and tencel.
However, it’s important to remember other factors that can impact your fabric’s sustainability, such as what it is dyed with and how sustainable its life cycle is. As a small business owner looking to choose the right sustainable fabric for your custom clothing, there are many eco-friendly fabrics to consider as well as production practices.
Websites like Printful have many eco-friendly options available such as organic cotton and recycled polyester. You can read more here about their products and fabric options.
Look Into Organic Cotton
Cotton is one of the most widely used fabrics in the world. However, conventional cotton production is known to be harmful to the environment because it requires a lot of water and uses large amounts of pesticides and fertilizers.
Organic cotton, on the other hand, is grown without the use of harmful chemicals and is a more sustainable option. When choosing a sustainable fabric for your custom clothing, look for fabrics made with organic cotton.
While cotton is one of the most widely grown crops in the world, it is also one of the most chemically intensive. These chemicals have a tremendous impact on our planet’s air, water, and soil—as well as the people who live in cotton-growing areas.
The chemicals involved in growing cotton are among the most toxic chemicals classified by the Environmental Protection Agency, and in developing countries with uninformed consumers, there is a lack of stable institutions and property rights leading to land being destroyed and farmers falling ill.
Organic cotton, on the other hand, is grown using methods and materials that have a much lower impact on the environment. When production systems are organic, they replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and even build biologically diverse agriculture!
On top of this, all organic cotton producers are third-party certified organizations, verifying that only methods and materials allowed in organic production are used. Because organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, it is much safer and better for the planet.
Many apparel companies are developing programs that either use 100% organically grown cotton or a blend of organic cotton and conventional cotton in their products. Many companies are driving the expanded use of domestic and international organic cotton. Organic fiber sales are growing and more organic fiber products are appearing in mainstream outlets.
Consider Choosing Linen
Linen is another great sustainable fabric option for your custom clothing line. It is a durable material that can last for years, which reduces the need to replace it. Linen is a textile that is primarily used in homeware applications.
It’s quite similar to cotton in that it is made of fibers that are derived from plants. Linen is made of fibers derived from the stems of the flax plant, and cotton is derived from cotton seeds.
Linen is a great option for garments you’d wear in more hot and humid climates. While cotton tends to retain moisture for a significant amount of time, linen dries quite quickly and can help reduce heat retention in overly warm weather.
It is an all-natural and biodegradable material that requires much less water and pesticides to grow in comparison to other crops, which makes it a more eco-friendly option! Manufacturing linen may be time-consuming, but its attributes are uniquely desirable.
Planting, Growing, & Harvest Flax
Flax seeds are sown with machines. After growing for about 100 days, flax plants are ready for harvesting. Once flax stems are yellow and their seeds are brown, the plant is ready to be harvested.
Separating the Flax Fiber
Once the flax stalks have been harvested, they are processed through a machine that separates the leaves and seeds. The fibrous outer stalk is then separated from its soft, woody interior. This process, called retting, needs to be expertly performed to avoid damaging the delicate flax fibers.
Breaking, Combing, Spinning, & Reeling
The decomposed stalks are then broken up to remove the outer fibers. With the inner fibers separated, they can be combed into thin strands and prepared for spinning. The spinning of flax yarn used to be performed on a flax wheel, but now spreaders are used to create strings called rovings to spin. This yarn can then be dried and reeled onto bobbins.
Hemp is Rising in Popularity
Hemp is a versatile and sustainable fabric that is becoming more and more popular in the fashion industry, making it a great choice for your custom clothing’s sustainability needs. Hemp is made from the fibers of the cannabis plant and is known for its strength and durability. It requires little water to grow and is an even more sustainable alternative than cotton!
On top of this, hemp has natural antibacterial properties and antifungal properties. Because of this, it is the perfect option for longer-lasting and more durable custom clothing.
Hemp is a type of textile that is made using fibers from the stalks of the Cannabis sativa plant, recognized as a source of extraordinarily tensile and durable textile fibers.
The hemp plant’s stalks have a rope-like bast fiber outer layer with a woody pith inside. The outer layer is used for textile purposes. After being stripped from the plant, it can be processed to create rope or yarn.
Hemp is incredibly versatile. It’s capable of being used for things like rigging and sails on maritime vessels, t-shirts, dresses, hoodies, socks, underwear, apparel, and household textiles.
Once processed into fabric, hemp has a similar texture to cotton while also feeling somewhat like canvas. It is not susceptible to shrinkage and is highly resistant to pilling.
The fibers from the hemp plant are long and sturdy, which leads to hemp fabric being very soft while also being highly durable. Where a cotton t-shirt typically lasts 10 years at most, a hemp t-shirt can last double or triple that amount of time and is about three times stronger than cotton fabric. Hemp is also lightweight and highly breathable.
Check Out Recycled Polyester
Polyester is a synthetic fabric that is commonly used in clothing production. However, it is not known as the most eco-friendly option.
Recycled polyester, on the other hand, is a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative! Recycled polyester is often called rPet and is a great way to divert plastic from our landfills.
The production of recycled polyester requires much fewer resources than that of new fibers, and it generates fewer CO2 emissions—between 45% and 70% less CO2 is emitted when generating recycled polyester in comparison to virgin polyester.
On top of this, 60% less energy is required to produce recycled polyester in comparison to virgin polyester! Recycled polyester is made of recycled plastic bottles, so it reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. It has the same properties as regular polyester, though, while still being an eco-friendly choice for custom clothing production.
There are two ways that polyester can be recycled. The first is mechanical recycling, where plastic is melted down to create new yarn. This process can only be done a few times before the fiber starts to lose its quality.
The second way is through chemical recycling, which involves breaking down the plastic molecules to then reform them into yarn. This process maintains the quality of the fiber, which allows the material to be recycled infinitely. While this process is more expensive, recycled polyester is an incredibly sustainable option.
Breathability By Tencel
Tencel is a sustainable fabric that is made from the wood pulp of the eucalyptus tree. It is a renewable resource and requires less water and energy to produce than other fabrics. Similar to viscose and modal, the cellulose fibers are made by dissolving wood pulp and using a special drying process called spinning.
First, the wood chips are mixed with a solvent to produce a wet mixture, which is then pushed through tiny holes to form threads. These threads are then chemically treated before the lengths of fiber are spun into yarn and woven into cloth.
Tencel is also biodegradable, meaning it can be composted at the end of its life cycle. On top of this, it’s a super soft material that is breathable and comfortable.
It is both light and versatile, too. Tencel is better for the environment than other similar fabrics, with organic linen and recycled cotton being its biggest competition in sustainability.
Tencel requires much less energy and water to produce than conventional cotton. Because Tencel is plant-derived, it is biodegradable. It is also pure white when produced, so no bleaching is required for white fabric—and it requires much less dye than other materials.
Tencel is a soft and silky material with a lovely drape that feels like it has been very finely spun. If you want a fabric that is good for the environment and just as good to wear, tencel is a great choice.
All-Natural Fabric Dyes
When creating custom clothing with sustainability in mind, it’s important to consider not only the fabric but also the dyes that are used when coloring said fabric.
Natural dyes are a more sustainable option than synthetic dyes because they’re made from plant-based materials and don’t contain harmful chemicals.
When choosing a dye for your custom clothing line’s fabric with sustainability in mind, look for fabrics dyed with all-natural dyes.
Consider Your Fabric’s Entire Life Cycle
When choosing sustainable fabrics for custom clothing, it’s important to consider the entire life cycle of the fabric. From the production process to transportation and end-of-life disposal, each phase of your fabric’s life should be taken into consideration for the most eco-friendly process.
Look for fabrics that are produced using sustainable practices, such as renewable energy sources and responsible waste management. Choose fabrics that are produced and transported in an eco-friendly way, as well, so you can be sure they can be easily recycled or composted at the end of their life cycles.