Guide to Eco-Friendly Fabrics



Bamboo

Bamboo clothing has many benefits and advantages over conventional cotton.

Silky Soft. Bamboo fabric is softer than cotton with a texture similar to silk.

Odor Eliminator. It is a naturally antibacterial and hypoallergenic product that is also quick to absorb moisture, therefore keeping skin dry and odor free.

Seasonless. Bamboo clothes can be worn all year round as they keep you cool in summer and warm in winter.

Chlorine Free. Bamboo fabric is bleached without the use of chlorine. Bamboo fabric is easy to dye and is done so without the use of harsh chemicals, using methods which require less water than conventional dyeing methods.

Allergy reduced. Bamboo’s organic and naturally smooth fiber properties are non-irritating to the skin, making it ideal for people with skin sensitivities or other allergies and dermatitis. Some people can still experience chemical sensitivities, however, depending on the manufacturing process used to produce the fiber.

Environmental benefits of using bamboo for clothing:

Cleans the air. Bamboo releases a significant amount of oxygen into the atmosphere, giving us clean air to breathe. Because bamboo forests are so dense, they return 30% more oxygen to the atmosphere than trees. Some bamboo sequester up to 12 tons of carbon dioxide from the air per hectare.

Requires less energy, water to grow. It takes much less energy to grow and sustain bamboo than other similar trees and plants used for fiber production. Bamboo requires very little water and can survive drought conditions, as well as flooding.

Renewable Resource. Bamboo is a sustainable and renewable resource as the bamboo plant is self replenishing. New shoots are continuously growing, ready to replace the old ones. Because of its rapid growth and root structure, bamboo can, in a very short time, reclaim land destroyed by overgrazing and over-building and clean the soil of toxins. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet, making it a high yield renewable resource. It can be selectively harvested annually and is capable of complete regeneration without need to replant.

Can be grown without pesticides. Because of bamboo’s natural anti-bacterial agents, it can be grown without pesticides or chemicals.

100% biodegradable. Unlike synthetic fibers which incorporate petroleum additives, bamboo clothing is safe for municipal disposal programs, whether by landfill or incineration.

See all items made with Bamboo fabric.

Organic Cotton

When you choose organic cotton clothing, bedding and toys you are protecting your baby, cotton workers and our land. Anything made from cotton can be made better with organic cotton.

Reduce exposure to chemicals. Conventionally grown cotton uses 10% of all agricultural chemicals in the United States, due to its popularity and low insect resistance. The conventional cotton crops in California alone are dusted every year with 6.9 million pounds of chemicals.

The EPA rates 7 of the top 15 pesticides used on U.S. cotton crops as potential or known human carcinogens. Research shows that extensive and intensive use of synthetic fertilizers, soil additives, defoliants and other substances wreak terrible havoc on soil, water, air and many, many living things.

Organic clothing is particularly important for infants and children, as their bodies are more sensitive to the health risks posed from chemicals and pesticides.

Non-Irritating. Not only does organic cotton save the ground, but it also saves your skin from irritating exposure to unnecessary chemicals. Organic cotton can be every bit as soft as traditional cotton, but comes with peace of mind as an added bonus.

See organic cotton baby clothes from Sckoon and Kee-Ka, and organic cotton crib sets from Pixel Organics .

Soybean Fiber

It’s hard to think of soy and not envision a brick of squishy tofu, but Soybean fiber is actually a sustainable textile fiber made from renewable natural resources. It is part of an effort moving people away from petrochemical textile products and turning waste into useful products.

Soy cloth uses the byproducts of production. The manufacturing of soy fabric is done by using cutting-edge bioengineering extract proteins from leftover dregs of soybean oil/tofu/soymilk production. Through a process called wet-spinning, the protein liquids are forced through a device resembling a showerhead, called a spinneret, to make liquid soy. Finally, the liquid soy is solidified to make soybean fiber.

Closed-end manufacturing process. The raw material, bean dregs, after having their protein extracted, can be used as fodder or fertilizer. All auxiliaries used in the production of soybean fiber are of a harmless nature, and they are recyclable - making the production process a closed-end process.

Durable and strong. Soy fiber's breaking strength is about three times that of wool's, yet it is close to wool in its warmth retention (without all the itchyness!).

Eco Luxury. Soybean fiber is soft, smooth, and light. It has cashmere feel, but is smoother than cashmere. Soy fabric is often called “eco cashmere” or “vegetable cashmere” because of its luxurious feel.

See all items made with Soybean fiber fabric.

Hemp

For thousands of years hemp was traditionally used as an industrial fiber. Sailors relied upon hemp cordage for strength to hold their ships and sails, and the coarseness of the fiber made hemp useful for canvas, sailcloth, sacks, rope, and paper. Today, hemp is an eco-friendly, sustainable fabric that can be used for everything from shirts and jeans to shoes and baby diapers.

Benefits of using hemp fabric for clothing

Wears In, Not Out. Hemp is exceptional at holding its shape, stretching less than any other natural fiber. This prevents hemp garments from stretching out or becoming distorted with use. Hemp may be known for its durability, but its comfort and style are second to none. The more hemp is used, the softer it gets.

Year-round comfort. Hemp fiber is naturally porous, allowing the fabrics to "breathe," so that it is cool in warm weather. Furthermore, air which is trapped in the fibers is warmed by the body, making hemp garments naturally warm in cooler weather.

Works well with others. Hemp blended with other fibers easily incorporates the desirable qualities of both textiles. The soft elasticity of cotton or the smooth texture of silk combined with the natural strength of hemp creates a whole new genre of fashion design.

Environmental advantages of using hemp

Renewable. Hemp is an extremely fast growing crop, producing more fiber yield per acre than any other source. Hemp can produce 250% more fiber than cotton and 600% more fiber than flax using the same amount of land. The amount of land needed for obtaining equal yields of fiber place hemp at an advantage over other fibers.

Plants that give back. Hemp leaves the soil in excellent condition for any succeeding crop, especially when weeds may otherwise be troublesome. Where the ground permits, hemp's strong roots descend for three feet or more. The roots anchor and protect the soil from runoff, building and preserving topsoil and subsoil structures similar to those of forests. Moreover, hemp does not exhaust the soil. Hemp plants shed their leaves all through the growing season, adding rich organic matter to the topsoil and helping it retain moisture. Farmers have reported excellent hemp growth on land that had been cultivated steadily for nearly 100 years.

Hemp for Diapers
Hemp is three times stronger than cotton, has good abrasion resistance and is washable. In addition, thanks to the porous nature of the fiber, hemp is more water absorbent than other fibers – making it a perfect choice for use in diapers and diaper liners. Hemp fibers ares naturally anti-microbial and resistant to mold, mildew, rot and degradation by UV-light.

Organic Merino Wool

Benefits of using organic merino wool for clothing

Baa-util. Organic merino wool is super warm and cozy, and it’s silky soft hand has none of the itchyness found in conventional wool.

Naturally clean. Organic merino wool has natural antimicrobial properties.

Wool for everyone. Organic wool can be used extensively by those who normally suffer from chemical sensitivity when in contact with conventionally grown wool.

Environmental advantages of using organic wool

Fewer chemicals. Conventional wool treated twice with chemicals: pesticides first and a chemical bath to strip away lanolin second. Organic wool yarn has not been chemically treated at all throughout the entire production process, from the farm to the finished product. Organic wool is free of pesticides, formaldehyde, polyester, foams, dioxins and other additives used in conventional manufacturing practices.

Renewable. Wool is a natural fiber and a renewable resource that is non-allergenic. Sheep grow wool back amazingly fast. Merino sheep produce as much as 40 pounds of wool per year.

Recycled Plastic

Recycling plastic soda and water bottles to create fabrics that can be used to create fleece jackets or wicked cool diaper bags is a positive step toward a more sustainable system – one that uses fewer resources and puts less trash in the landfills. Using recycled plastic bottles for clothing and other products lessens our dependence on oil and creates less air, water and soil contamination.

Facts about plastic bottles (from earth911.org):
  • Eight out of 10 plastic water bottles become landfill waste.
  • In 2006, Americans drank about 167 bottles of water each, but only recycled an average of 23 percent. That leaves 38 billion water bottles in landfills.
  • It takes over 1.5 million barrels of oil to manufacture a year’s supply of bottled water. That’s enough oil to fuel 100,000 cars.
  • Plastic bottles take 700 years before they begin to decompose in a landfill.

    Fleurville diaper bags made with recycled plastic.