When I throw on my jeans in the morning I’m not usually thinking of how many gallons of water it took for them to be lying on my floor. In case you’re wondering, it’s a lot. A traditional cotton t-shirt requires 257 gallons of water to produce and your average pair of jeans uses 920 gallons of water and produces 32 kilograms of carbon dioxide. That’s equal to 130 kilometres in your car and running a computer for 556 hours. I don’t know about you, but I own quite a few pairs of jeans. This is only scratching the surface of the environmental and ethical impact of the textile industry. Ever wondered who made that same pair of jeans? How much were they paid? How old are they? What by-products went into the local river system? I know, it’s all just a bit overwhelming.
I realised that there is way too much to remember when we’re waist deep in Zara’s post-Christmas discount heaven, fending off elbows to the face. So I did the work for you. All you have to do now is read the label of that dream spring coat before you buy it. Because only thing better than a brand new pair of jeans, is a turtle-loving, tree-hugging, guilt-free pair of jeans.
#10 Recycled Fibres
This type textile is so cool Pharell has his own recycled plastic denim line. Recycled textiles vary from melted down plastic to refashioned vintage fabrics. Best of all, recycled fabric is easy to come by. Save a turtle, wear a plastic bag!
#9 Organic Wool
When you’re shopping for wool, ethical is essential. Organic wool makes sure sheep are raised humanely, meaning they have better immune systems, reduced stress and less disease. Wool is a great investment and a quality product, therefore you’ll end up buying less in the long run.
#8 Alpaca and Cashmere
Clothing in these luxury fabrics will last a lifetime, making them inherently eco-friendly. Alpaca sheep don’t need insecticides, they’re self-sufficient, don’t need antibiotics, don’t eat very much. As long as you buy organically produced alpaca and cashmere products, you’ll be on your way to some chic and sustainable style.
Linen is made from ﬂax, a crop that needs few chemical fertilisers, and less pesticide than cotton. It also requires a fraction of the amount of water required in the production of cotton, and even thrives in poor soil. It was the fabric of the moment in the 80s and 90s, so the first stop should be mum’s wardrobe and some serious vintage shopping.
If wearing recycled plastic bags wasn’t eco-friendly enough, then Pinatex (yes, that’s right, it’s made from pinapples) will definitely satisfy your resourceful side. This is a newly developed leather substitute sourced from pineapple leaves. It’s sustainable, chemical-free and biodegradable. You’ll have to contain your excitement though, as the fibre is still inprototype stage and is yet to come on the market. Shoe brands Camper and Puma are some of the first to create pinatex products.
#5 Banana Fibre
If wearing recycled plastic bags wasn’t eco-friendly enough, then Pinatex (yes, that’s right, it’s made from pinapples) will definitely satisfy your resourceful side. This is a newly developed leather substitute sourced from pineapple leaves. It’s sustainable, chemical-free and biodegradable. You’ll have to contain your excitement though, as the fibre is still in prototype stage and is yet to come on the market. Shoe brands Camper and Puma are some of the first to create pinatex products.
#4 Ethical Silk
Ethical silk or ‘green silk’ comes mainly from India, North Asia and Africa. This silk is harvested after the silk moths emerge from the cocoon so it’s cruelty free as well as. Ethical silk also avoids toxic chemicals and dyes in the production process so here’s to clean rivers and happy moths!
#3 Organic Cotton
Of all sustainable and ethical fabrics, organic cotton isn’t hard to find or afford. Cotton fields require a large amount of water to produce. Organic cotton practices use significantly less water than traditional practices and no pesticides or fertilisers. Consuming the right cotton products, or even better – cotton alternatives – is one sure way to reduce your environmental impact!
Tencel is made from wood pulp, so it’s both biodegradable and recyclable. Producing this fabric involves less emissions, energy, and water usage than other more conventional fabrics, and it doesn’t get bleached, either. Plus it’s naturally wrinkle-free, so you don’t need to waste time or energy on ironing! As usual, try to find a product that’s been dyed with a low-chemical or vegetable colourant.
Hemp is by far the most sustainable fibre on the market. Hemp doesn’t have to look and feel like a patato sack, this versatile fibre can be blended with other fibres for a durable and asthetically pleasing result. It’s fast growing, chemical free and highly sustainable! So before you stop reading – no, you don’t have to grow dreads and change your entire wardrobe to various shades of brown. I guarantee you’ll be surprised by the stylish hemp pieces you’ll find!