To be perfectly honest, cotton is sort of like the SUV of fabrics. It’s a total resource hog, but everybody loves it. So how can we feel better about using it? By making sure that it’s 100% organic. Certified organic cotton keeps pesticides out of the ecosystem and helps maintain the overall health of the soil even though it still uses a significant amount of water. The organic stuff is usually more expensive, but also tends to be significantly softer than it’s non-organic counterpart.
Hemp is a miracle fiber. We absolutely love it and think that you should too. It grows like a weed, requires zero chemical fertilizers or pesticides and actually cleans the atmosphere as it grows. It’s also ridiculously durable and even has an elevated linen-like appearance. It can be a little on the rough side though, so we typically blend it with organic cotton to soften up the feel. It’s hands down our top choice when it comes to sustainability.
Wool makes an amazing fabric. It’s naturally anti-microbial, wrinkle-resistant, moisture wicking and durable. Its only downfall is that it grows on sheep and sheep require not only lots of land for grazing but can also become rather flatulent after eating all that grass. Sheep flatulence contains methane gas and methane gas is a leading cause of global warming. Well, that stinks! It’s still one of our top choices for sustainable fabrics though, especially considering both it's lifespan and that fact that it's biodegradable.
Alpaca is like wool minus the methane. Seriously, wool is great but alpaca is even lighter, warmer, stronger and softer. Plus the alpaca is a very light eater, which means that it requires less land and water and therefore produces significantly less methane than sheep. Alpaca also tend to be super hearty animals that are happy grazing on land that other grazing animals wouldn’t go near.
Linen is one of the oldest textiles in the world. It’s made from the flax, a highly utilitarian plant that is rather happy growing in less than ideal soil conditions and uses far less water than cotton. It's also biodegradable and pretty luxurious. A fantastic summer weight fabric that naturally wicks moisture and keeps you cool. The only negative is that it requires extensive bleaching to achieve that bright white color – or any bright color for that matter - so try to stick to finished garments that are made with natural, unbleached linen. Most of them will be in the ivory, tan and light grey spectrum.
On the one hand, making clothing out of discarded plastic bottles seems like a great idea. The issue, however, is that whenever you toss your favorite recycled polyester fleece or leggings into the laundry those garments release “microfiber” pollution into the environment – think tiny little strands of plastic so small that they slip through most water filters. The majority of this pollution makes its way to the ocean where it ends up in the bellies of fish and other marine animals. And where do you think the fish end up? That’s right, in our bellies. Solution? Either don't wash items made from recycled polyester (or standard polyester) very often or wash them by hand and hang dry. We still think it's a great fabric for outer layers and blankets though.
Tencel, also known as Lyocell, is pretty much the sustainable version of rayon, but much, much nicer. It’s often compared to silk and depending on how it’s produced can certainly rival it. It’s derived from farmed eucalyptus trees and although it requires significant power to manufacture, the environmental impact is much lower than just about any other “pulp-derived” fabric. And depending on what it’s blended with, the garment applications are nearly limitless. For us, however, it truly shines as a replacement for the synthetic polyester predominately used in the athleisure industry.