Why Choose Biodegradable Fabrics Over Recycled Fabrics?

Why Choose Biodegradable Fabrics Over Recycled Fabrics?

Before we begin, we need to understand that there is a difference between natural and eco-friendly fabrics.

Natural fabrics include leather, wool, and other animal-derived materials, which are so not eco-friendly, truth be told.

The process of wool shearing is heartbreaking, to say the least, the same goes for the collection of animal felt and leather.

We repeat, these are not eco-friendly. But that is a different discussion, this here is a discussion about actually eco-friendly fabrics.

Today, many companies are jumping on to the sustainability bandwagon. This is because sustainability has become a need in modern times rather than being an advantage.

Everybody knows about the ill effects happening to the Earth and its environment.

Sustainable fabrics help everybody to do the little that they can from their part in order to conserve the Earth and its resources.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become an inevitable concept of the textile industry. Research shows that the textile industry is the most polluting industry of the world.

Almost 2000 different varieties of chemicals are used in this industry. Mere chemical processing in this industry constitutes 70 percent of the overall pollution. The importance of sustainable fabric is recognized by both consumers and manufacturers.

Recycling has always been considered an environmentally friendly practice. A recycled fabric is no less sustainable.

One can easily come across recycled fabric in the market. They are made from existing garments that were otherwise destined to be disposed of. The ones people give to charity are usually recycled.

They do not lead to wastage of the existing clothes even if they are no longer wanted by their owners.

Propagators of sustainability and eco-friendly practices advise in favor of recycled textiles and garments.

One is educated to resort to the use of recycled clothes.

Sustainability is usually summed up into three parts - reduce, reuse, and recycle!

Recycling means that one is making the fabric to survive despite it being discarded.

Besides, it is an environment friendly tactic to manufacture clothes, as well.

Recycled clothes help in saving the resources that are needed to manufacture new apparels. Synthetic fibers comprise almost 65 percent of the total world production for fibers.

They consume a lot of oil which is a non-renewable resource. Natural fibers like cotton, silk, wool, etc. also make use of resources that need to be conserved. Making use of recycled fabrics will help in reducing the speed of their depletion.

Studies indicate that tons of used clothing and other articles are discarded by consumers as textile waste.

Almost 48 percent of this total waste is recycled and converted into consumables. It is mostly exported to third world countries. The sad fact is that not all the textile waste of this kind is recovered. Efforts are being made to recover such waste and convert them into recyclables that can be used.

As the waste gets converted into recycled fabrics, there are lesser wastes to be disposed of overall. Textile wastes would otherwise have fallen on land. Recycling reduces the waste disposed onto land.

Many times, certain fabrics make use of chemicals during preparation that does not get decomposed. Such fabrics should especially be recycled. Sustainable practices of this sort are environment friendly.

It is mandatory to keep costs under check while indulging in sustainability. If the cost of the fabric gets too high, it does not quite fit under the category of sustainable fabrics.

Recycled fabric can be considered to fall under this category as it reduces the price of certain fabrics considerably. Since it does not require or require very less raw materials, it proves to be cheaper to consumers.

It has been agreed upon that recycled fibers consume less energy in order to produce a fabric. Recycled polyester consumes 33 percent to 53 percent less energy in comparison to the normal polyester used for manufacturing clothes.

Researches indicate that almost 85 percent of the climatic changes are a result of the energy use on the surface of the Earth. Reducing energy consumption is beneficial to the environment.

The items that are collected for recycling are initially divided into two - one that can be worn and one that cannot be worn. They are again separated on the basis of their material and their color.

The textile is pulled into fibers. Then these fibers are cleaned and mixed with other fibers, if necessary.

The fiber is then spun to manufacture yarn. The yarn is woven, dyed or printed, and finally stitched into clothes.

There are a number of recycling units that recycle old or thrown away clothes. Charity homes that get a large number of used clothes as donations generally resort to the recycle of clothes.

They send clothes that are not worthy to be worn or that are extra to recycling units. They get paid for them in return.

Studies show that reusing old clothes results in a considerable decrease of CO2 emission into the atmosphere.

There is no doubt to the fact that recycling textiles is a sustainable practice. This kind of a practice is beneficial to the environment.

It is highly recommended in the textile industry. This step will help reduce the carbon footprints left behind by the industry. It will thereby help reduce the overall cost of manufacturing textiles. Sustainability is advisable for everybody and recycling is a step towards the same!

FAQs

Why Is Creating Fashion From Biodegradable Materials A Good Idea?

Materials scientists in China have noted that alga-based fibers are naturally fire-resistant, potentially reducing the need for adding toxic flame retardants to clothing.

Also, alga degrades faster than cotton—the most common natural clothing fiber—and growing it does not require pesticides or large areas of land.

Why Are Recycled Fabrics Good?

Recycled cotton prevents additional textile waste and requires far fewer resources than conventional or organic cotton.

This makes it a great sustainable option. ... The quality of the cotton may be lower than of new cotton. Recycled cotton is therefore usually blended with new cotton.

Why Is Eco Friendly Clothing Important?

— Clothing is made using natural energy and avoiding pollution. While ethical fashion may not solve all of our problems with unsafe chemicals, water shortages, energy consumption, or overflowing landfills, it allows you to reduce your impact on the environment and invest in safer, more sustainable practices.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Recycled Cotton?

Some of the disadvantages of using recycled cotton are:

  • Expensive.
  • Low availability.
  • Low elasticity.
  • Low wrinkle resistance.
  • Low heat resistance.
  • Low chemical resistance.
  • Low moth, mold, insect, fungus resistance.
  • Low tear resistance

What Fabric Is Biodegradable?

Fabrics like organic cotton, linen, hemp, lyocell, peace silk and bamboo are among the few that are completely biodegradable

What Exactly Are Eco-Friendly Fabrics?

The term eco-friendly states that any material that is good for the ecosystem of a place and nature, in general, should be called eco-friendly. It doesn’t mean natural materials that can be collected from nature, but if you can collect them without harming nature, that can be deemed one.

It doesn’t always have to be entirely natural, for example, rPET or recyclable polyester fabric is entirely artificial but is still eco-friendly for its recyclable attributes.

To sum up, we can say that if the creation of fabric does not necessarily damage the ecosystem of the world, and if the fabric is recyclable and reusable, we can consider it as eco-friendly.

Hemp, Bamboo, Silk, Soy, Organic Cotton can be good examples of such fabrics.

Why Do We Need Eco-Friendly Fabrics?

We can answer the question in one simple sentence- ‘to save nature’.

But we will elaborate, but first, you need to understand the impact of non-eco-friendly products in nature. 

Take acrylic for an example. These are 100% synthetic and not biodegradable. The recycling and reusing value? ZERO. Which is why anyone concerned with nature should avoid them.

Polyester is another fabric that is artificial and generally isn't biodegradable. There are recyclable ones though, but apart from them, polyester harms mother nature as nothing does. 

With the emergence of issues like global warming, we need to step up before half the world dives deep underwater.

While we enjoy sea beaches, living underwater will certainly not be suitable for us, so to save nature and save ourselves we have to start using eco-friendly products, and starting from the fabric we use can be a good idea.

But it’s not just about nature. If you consider the quality, endurance, and easier and fairer trade system, eco-friendly fabrics are always ahead. Hypoallergenic and long-lasting clothes are preferable for most people.

The culture of ‘Make-Use-Dispose’ has resulted in tons of garbage in this modern era, and time for us to clean the garbage.  Time to go green, time to help rebuild nature with eco-friendly fabrics.

How to Choose Eco-Friendly Fabrics

As a general rule, you can read the labels to find out if fabrics require dry cleaning or are treated with chemical flame retardants, and avoid buying them because they are not sustainable.

It’s a good idea to steer clear of polyester because it comes from petroleum.

Follow this eco-friendly textile guide to make more informed purchases. Here are the top green textile choices to seek out in your next wardrobe.

Bamboo

Bamboos are called ‘Green Gold’ in many places of the world, and rightfully so!

A plant that regrows without replantation, a fabric that is renewable, biodegradable and comfortable- it is a mystery as to why people are not more interested in bamboo fabrics just yet.

These trees even make sure the soil is fertile and doesn’t require any kind of fertilizer. That’s not just it, Bamboo fabric can produce oxygen, at least 35% more than other fabrics.

Bamboo is a highly renewable resource that requires few chemical inputs. The fabric is soft, breathable, and biodegradable.

Unfortunately, toxic chemicals are sometimes used in the production process, but the Federal Trade Commission requires such products to be labeled as bamboo-based rayon.

If you see “rayon” in the description of a bamboo-based textile, it’s not green.

Lyocell

Lyocell fiber comes from the bleached pulp of tree fibers, which is dissolved in a solvent. It is biodegradable and is made of renewable materials.

It is also soft, has antibacterial properties, and is machine washable.

TENCEL Lyocell uses nontoxic solvents in a closed-loop process that captures and recycles 99 percent of the solvent. It contains only traceable wood pulp from sustainable resources.

Hemp

Hemp is also a highly renewable fiber that has a smaller water footprint than cotton.

Unlike Lyocell, it doesn’t require chemical processing and needs few if any pesticides to cultivate. This is a superhero amongst fabrics. We mean, a plant that produces three times more fabric than cotton- this is immense! The hemp fabrics are durable, antibacterial and biodegradable.

The plants generally require relatively less water, so no chance of spending a lot here too! Hemp, if grown on a large basis may require pesticides that are bad for nature, but other than that this is a decent eco-friendly fabric.

Organic Cotton

Cotton has its advantages and disadvantages.

Almost half of all textiles are comprised of cotton, and it provides income for more than 250 million people worldwide. It is a renewable fiber, but it is commonly genetically modified and it has a large water footprint.

As many as, 2,700 liters of water are required to produce the cotton to make one T-shirt or pair of jeans.

Cotton is also considered the world’s dirtiest crop because of very heavy pesticide use.

Make no mistake, there is a huge difference between regular cotton and organic cotton.

The regular one covers a large sum of pesticides and insecticides in the world, damaging the soil by overusing it. But organic cotton fabrics are not made in such a manner.

Organic cotton is made from cotton seeds and only requires water, a lot of it, in the production.

The biodegradable feature is here as well, but organic cotton can still be problematic because there may well be a scarcity of drinkable water in the days to come.

The good news is that sustainable farming techniques can help reduce the water consumption necessary to irrigate cotton crops, preserve soil, provide wildlife habitat, and protect waterways.

Whenever possible, choose organic cotton.

Recycled Polyester

People might be surprised to find polyester fabric in the list of eco-friendly fabrics, mostly because polyester is kind of the main reason behind most of the pollution out there, and the never-ending growth of plastic is scary.

But with recycled polyester the tale is different.

We have to understand that alongside reducing the production of polyester, we also need to know how to make use of the remaining plastic products in the world, and recycling them over and over again for making durable fabric is a brilliant and eco-friendly idea.

Although this is relatively rare, recycled plastic bottles can be used to make polyester. Although clothing made from recycled polyester is difficult to find, however, Patagonia and the H&M Conscious Collection are great places to start

Linen

Linen is made from Flax plants, which are a blessing to nature and mankind themselves.

The flax seeds are common food material, whilst the body is used as fabric.

Like Bamboo, the plants don’t require a lot of care, fertilizers or pesticides are not necessary with it. Linen fabric is well known as bedsheets and bedcovers.

This antimicrobial and biodegradable fabric can last very, very long if taken care of properly.

Honorable Mentions

Although they didn’t make the top list, these textiles are worth considering.

Silk

Silk is a natural fiber that requires less water than cotton and is biodegradable. Unfortunately, silk usually requires dry cleaning, and silkworms are killed during production unless it is vegan silk.

Rayon

Like Lyocell, rayon also comes from wood pulp. Its production requires far less water than cotton, it’s affordable, and is biodegradable.

The sustainability of this textile choice depends largely on the producer. Rayon requires chemical processing, and some producers release this into the environment. It is also important that the wood pulp comes from sustainable sources.

Non-Organic Cotton

Even if it is treated with pesticides, cotton still has some positive attributes. It doesn’t require chemicals to process it and is a natural fiber.

It is, however, commonly cultivated with a lot of pesticides and is genetically modified.

Wool

Wool is a renewable resource that creates a biodegradable, fire-resistant product.

This makes it a great alternative to fabrics that are chemically-treated fabrics with flame retardants and is often used in natural mattresses.

However, a campaign by PETA has raised concerns about animal welfare issues surrounding wool, even on farms that supplied Patagonia (Patagonia subsequently dropped this supplier).

Only purchase wool products if you can confirm that the animals were treated humanely. Another good bet is clothing made from recycled wool.

Soy-made fabric

Soy is another versatile and easy growing plant that is available all around the world. This here is a multipurpose plant, we can use it as a food, cloth fabric, and even household products.

It is biodegradable and quite durable, so eco-friendly is like it’s the middle name. From soy we can get silk and cashmere fabric- both quite expensive if collected from silk cocoons and cashmere goats.

To put an end to animal cruelty and to save nature, soy fabrics can be a brilliant option.

Key Takeaways

There is no clear-cut answer to finding the right eco-friendly fabric.

It all depends – not least on the requirements of the design.

Selection involves assessing often highly complex data about different fibres, usually collated as emissions data for individual categories (like CO2 emissions) or into an index approach offering a comparable score.

Read more

Top 13 Sustainable Fashion Designers Making a Change in 2021

Top 13 Sustainable Fashion Designers Making a Change in 2021

Is Fast Fashion Ethical?

Is Fast Fashion Ethical?

What Are The Different Types Of Sustainable Fabrics?

What Are The Different Types Of Sustainable Fabrics?