Sustainable fibers: reading the label
Reading the Label: Sustainable Fibers
Why I should choose sustainable fibers?
The fashion and textile industry is really very complicated. While many of us may not think about the impact clothing that we choose to wear each day can create on the environment, they do have a complex lifecycle, carbon footprint, and human impact before they even reach out to homes.
While the lifecycle of every garment is different, on average one can assume that most garments are grown or engineered, watered, harvested, mechanically processed, shipped, mechanically processed again, shipped again, dyed, sewn, and shipped some more. From start to finish our clothes may have traveled around the world and back.
The thing is, that impact that our clothing has on the environment and the lives of laborers involved in the garment industry is quite big, so it makes essential that we take the lifecycle of our clothing into account, and become better educated in what makes an eco-friendly and sustainable garment.
In addition, if you try to make a sustainable choice you should use this reversed pyramid:
1) if possible use already existing products (reuse, remake older clothes, shop second hands). Bus sometimes you just want to treat yourself or your little ones with something brand new, beautiful, and special. And there is nothing bad about it! Then you just should think about the fiber and how this garment was produced.
2) So the second thing is to choose natural fibers, that require easy care and are high quality (because easy care and high quality/ durability also mean less impact).
3) Check is the fiber and the garment itself is fairly made.
4) It is always a great idea to choose local products or brands that use locally produced fabrics because that reduces carbon footprint.
But to begin with, let's just take a look at some of the friendly and sustainable fabrics that we should be on the lookout for when purchasing a new garment. Once you become more aware of what your clothing is being made from (just like your food) it will become second nature to choose, look for, and demand better quality.
Let's start with natural fibers that have been engineered to change the industry to the better side:
-Modal, an innovative textile that is made from spinning cellulose from the beechwood tree. Because beechwood trees self-rejuvenate they are considered a sustainable raw material that can be used to create the innovative modal fabric. Modal is also 50% more water-absorbent than cotton and is silky smooth making it a good choice for activewear and undergarment manufacturers.
-TENCEL™ is one of the most progressive fibers that is being engineered today. The material for TENCEL™ comes from the eucalyptus tree, which requires no harmful pesticides or insecticides to grow. Eucalyptus trees also require significantly less land, when compared to something like cotton to make a similar amount of fabric.
Additionally, the process of actually manufacturing the TENCEL™ yarn is fueled with 100% renewable energy and uses 80% less water.
-Hemp is one of the few agricultural products that can feed us, clothe us, house us, and be used for medicinal purposes. It is a dense plant that requires no pesticides or herbicides to keep it healthy. It also is naturally resistant to pests, requires little land to grow, and uses 50% less water than cotton. From growing standpoint hemp really checks all the boxes for a sustainably grown natural plant fiber.
-Organic Cotton is one of the most popular textiles used in fashion and bedding products, and the USA is one of the world's largest producers. While in many ways cotton is a wonderful, natural fiber that is capable of biodegrading quickly once it is discarded, conventionally grown cotton, unfortunately, has a significant carbon footprint.
Conventional cotton uses an abundance of harsh pesticides, and insecticides making it one of the most heavily sprayed crops. It also requires a significant amount of land and water to grow making it a resource-demanding crop.
That is why choosing organic cotton is so important. When you choose to help reduce the negative impacts of our global cotton industry, you choose to positively impact soil quality, water quality, and public health. Organically grown cotton can become the new standard, but it’s up to consumers to demand it.
- And finally, our favorite Linen is another natural plant-based fiber that will biodegrade after it is discarded making it a more eco-friendly option. Linen is made using the entire flax plant and is very strong and sturdy, but if it is stonewashed, then it becomes soft and is perfect for children's clothing. Because linen doesn’t require the use of pesticides and can be made using the entire flax plant, linen is considered to be one of the most eco-friendly textiles that are used today in the making of clothing and bedding.
We chose to use linen because this agricultural fiber is close to our soul and our heritage (it is part of Lithuania culture, and we have it mentioned in many songs and old poems). It is locally grown and produced. And we have those childhood memories of beautiful blue blooming flax fields. It just feels that we have most competences with this particular fiber and a passion to revive it.