Eco-friendly fabrics are not only better for the environment, but also for you! Usually, a lot of chemicals are used from the raw materials to the finished garments.
You might have heard of microplastic that comes from washing synthetics and end up in the oceans and our bodies. Therefore, I try to avoid all, even if it's recycled. Mixtures like cotton and polyester are hard to recycle, while pure natural fibres are biodegradable and should always be the first choice.
That said, I stopped buying conventional fabrics a few years ago, but I still have a massive stash of what I collected before. It makes no sense throwing that away, so I will use some of it and sell the rest.
There are three types of eco-friendly fabrics that I like to use, and I'll explain a bit more below.
Organic cotton is grown without pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. That's good for the soil and the biodiversity. 11% of all pesticides used on crops worldwide fall on cotton, and the fertilizers cause the high CO2 footprint of conventional cotton. Some certifications like GOTS also include the whole process including spinning, weaving, low-impact dyes and even some social standards, making the fabric friendly to your skin as well.
Lyocell is a special kind of viscose made from eucalyptus wood and one of the most eco-friendly fibres available. In contrast to conventional and also bamboo viscose, the process uses much fewer chemicals and a closed-loop system for minimal water consumption. Tencel™ is the brand name from the company Lenzing, who hold the patent. The resulting fabrics are wonderfully soft and flowy, perfect for shirts and dresses.
Hemp is a naturally robust, fast-growing plant that needs much less water than cotton and has positive effects on the soil. It makes strong fibres that have historically been used for ropes & canvas and can be turned into any fabric from fine jerseys to sturdy denim, though it's often mixed with organic cotton (and that's ok). Hemp-based fabric has a characteristic structure, an excellent ability to absorb water and gets softer with every wash.
As a slow fashion company, most products are sewn by myself here in York. Small collections of one-of-a-kind creations and made-to-order items are the opposite of fast fashion mass production. In terms of the ready-made items for printing, fairness seems to be inevitably less transparent. I try to source from companies that besides being organic, also carry the Fair Wear label like Earth Positive and Stanley & Stella.
Reduce - Reuse - Recycle! Your order will most likely arrive in packaging that has been used before. This means padded envelopes and bags might contain plastic, but it's the best way to save resources. Please consider reusing these again or give them to recycling if possible. All new shipping materials, including cards, flyers and stickers, are made from recycled paper. I use paper tape wherever possible to make recycling easier.
My sewing machines are (like everything in my house) powered with renewable energy. I can't say that for the servers this website is currently running on, so I decided to join an offset program that plants trees for us every month.
Cutting fabric produces waste, which I try to minimise by using every little scrap in my designs. The Zero Waste approach is an exciting solution that I will try to incorporate more in the future. Another way I like to cut down on waste is by giving second-hand clothing a new life in my ongoing upcycling collection. And finally, garments that are made to last make sure they don't go into the trash too soon.
Find out more about my own fabric designs on the next page.
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