Top Five Most Sustainable Fabrics
Green is the new black.
#sustainablefashion now has 11million tags on Instagram. That’s more than #fashionnova #boohoo and #prettylittlething combined.
In fact, consumers are more conscious than ever - between 2018 and 2019 searches for sustainable fashion jumped 75%, more than half of millennials are now using rental platforms and over 90% of Gen Z are open to buying secondhand.
So, to make it easy for you to spot and shop the most sustainable fabrics on the market we are breaking down our top five most sustainable fabrics.
Top Five Most Sustainable Fabrics:
We start with our favorite recycled yarns.
According to the Council for Textile Recycling, the average American contributes 70 pounds of discarded fabric each year. If this wasn’t bad enough, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that nearly 5% of landfills are full of textile waste.
This is why, at Teddy Locks we believe in reusing, repurposing and recycling materials already in circulation before opting for new materials.
Virgin polyester - or polyethylene terephthalate - is made from oil - extracted from the ground and processed into long fibers. It has amazing performance properties, and endless applications - but its production is energy intensive and damaging to our environment.
Recycled polyester, however, uses 45% less energy in production, 20% less water consumption and produces 30% fewer greenhouse gases - how? By skipping the extraction phase and saving single-use plastic from landfill… because, plastic bottles, used once and discarded, are... wait for it… also polyethylene terephthalate, the same material as polyester.
Recycled polyester, therefore not only has a lower footprint at the production stage, but is also putting back into circulation materials that were no longer wanted.
You can learn more about how we make our socks from recycled polyester at Teddy Locks on our Recycling page.
Like recycled polyester, recycled nylon is made from trash - from pre-consumer textile waste, or post-consumer materials such as carpets and fishing nets.
The most well known recycled nylon is Econyl. Made in Italy by Aquafil, it was the first post-consumer nylon to hit the market. Now most commonly found in conscious swimwear, Econyl is actively helping to clean up discarded fishing nets from our oceans.
What makes Econyl even more sustainable is that it’s production is fueled with renewable feedstocks, like castor oil (instead of the harmful petroleum), which is considered to be infinitely recyclable.
At Teddy Locks we are intercepting nylon destined for landfill locally, gathering fiber waste from factory floors in North Carolina and spinning it into recycled yarns that we use to make our socks. Those white spots in our polka dot socks - that’s fiber waste we rescued.
Look out for recycled polyester and recycled nylon certified with the Recycled Claim Standard (RCS), Global Recycled Standard (GRS) and SCS Recycled Content.
Recycled cotton is the most readily available recycled natural material. Instead of growing the fiber, like with virgin and organic cotton, it is generated from two primary sources, pre-consumer cotton textiles like scraps from production and post-consumer items like towels, upholstery, and clothing.
Recycled cotton is mainly produced through mechanical recycling. The process includes sorting the textiles by color and running the material through a machine that shreds the fabric into pieces. Once they’ve been shredded down to a fiber level, they can then be spun into yarns ready for reuse.
Producing cotton this way means that land isn’t cleared for crops, pesticides aren’t sprayed and fewer materials end up in landfill - significant when annual textile waste is estimated to be 25 billion pounds and landfills are one of the biggest sources of methane - the worst greenhouse gas.
You can find recycled cotton in our Teddy Locks t-shirts.
One of the most sustainable new fabrics is TencelTM Lyocell. Known for its softness and durability, it has high absorbency, and is soft like silk.
Lenzing produces the most responsible Tencel. It is made from the bark of sustainably harvested trees, which regenerates and can be used as the source material over and over again. In fact Lenzing have managed to create an entirely closed-loop production process, where not even the water used gets wasted.
Lyocell fibers are also made elsewhere and are a great sustainable alternative if you are unable to find branded Tencel. However, not all plant based fibers are sustainable. Beware of rayon and viscose - which are chemically intensive and environmentally damaging to produce.
No longer akin to hippies, organic hemp is here to stay. Made through cannabis sativa or industrial hemp, a process that dates back to 8000 BC.
Hemp is a crop that grows extremely fast, producing up to 250% more fiber than cotton and 600% more fiber than flax! The crop also benefits the ground it's grown on, adding organic matter into the soil helping it to retain moisture. What’s more, it is grown without pesticides and releases oxygen in production.
But there are also end-use benefits abound to this sustainable fabric. Organic hemp is very strong, hypo-allergenic. and incredibly soft. Oh, and did I mention it is also UV Resistant? Helping to protect you from the sun’s bearing rays.
There are endless environmental benefits to these sustainable fabrics, but they are also high performing and excellent fabrics for clothing and of course - socks. So be sure to check the contents of the pieces that catch your eye next.
Written by Meg Ahearn
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