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Importance Of Choosing Organic Fabrics in Sustainable Fashion

Sustainable fashion is quickly gaining popularity worldwide. The global market share is on track to increase to 6.1 percent (up from 3.9 percent in 2021) in 2026. Many consumers are...

Sustainable fashion is quickly gaining popularity worldwide. The global market share is on track to increase to 6.1 percent (up from 3.9 percent in 2021) in 2026.

Many consumers are interested in making the switch from fast fashion to more sustainable options. If you’re part of this group, one of the best steps you can take first is to prioritize clothing made from organic fabrics.

Learn more about organic fabrics and their importance below. You’ll also find some tips on incorporating organic materials into your wardrobe.

What Is Sustainable Fashion?

Sustainable fashion is a broad term, and it can be hard to know if you’re genuinely purchasing sustainably made clothing items (especially since so many brands use buzzwords like “sustainable” and “eco-friendly” without defining what they mean). One aspect of sustainable fashion that focuses on minimizing waste is the emergence of zero waste fashion brands. These brands prioritize reducing or eliminating waste throughout the entire production process, from sourcing materials to manufacturing and packaging, in order to create a more environmentally friendly and socially responsible fashion industry. By supporting zero waste fashion brands, consumers can make a conscious choice towards a more sustainable and circular fashion economy.

To fall under the sustainable fashion umbrella, a clothing item or brand must meet these criteria:

Made from Low Impact and Organic Materials

Sustainable clothing is made from natural materials, including cotton, hemp, linen, wool, silk, leather, and cellulose fibers. Many fast fashion items are made from petroleum-derived materials like polyester, nylon, and acrylic.

Natural fibers are preferred because they’re biodegradable and compost back into the soil.  

Made from Recycled or Deadstock Materials

It’s great to use natural and sustainable materials to create clothing items. However, it’s even better if those pieces are made from recycled or deadstock fabrics.

What’s the difference between the two options? Recycled fabrics are made from recycled fibers, whereas deadstock fabrics are materials that were created but never sold or used, meaning they were on their way to being thrown out.

Uses Eco-Friendly Dyes

Many fabric dyes are harmful to the environment and contribute to water pollution. Consider how the materials were dyed and finished when buying clothing.

Eco-friendly dyes use much less water and plant-based materials, and are certified as non-toxic. Some certifications to watch for include Bluesign and OEKO-TEX 100.

Made Using Low or Zero-Waste Design

Even the way clothing is designed can benefit or harm the environment. When possible, support brands that use low or zero-waste design techniques. 

Much of the fashion industry’s waste comes from cutting out patterns and throwing away the leftover materials. Brands can also create waste by using and throwing away plastic packaging instead of using more sustainable materials. 

Research brands to find ones committed to minimizing byproduct waste in their manufacturing process.

Made Locally or in Renewable Energy-Run Facilities

Locally made clothing is an excellent option for fashionistas who want to minimize their environmental impact. Locally made items don’t have to be shipped to you (or to a store), meaning they’re not transported on a truck that contributes to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

When you shop locally, you also support an entrepreneur in your community!

If you can’t find a particular clothing item locally, choose items made in renewable energy-run facilities. These facilities are conscious of the amount of waste they produce (wasted water, wasted materials, etc.) and work to reduce their footprint wherever they can.

Why Do Organic Fabrics Matter in Sustainable Fashion?

Switching to clothing made from organic fabrics is an excellent starting point for those who are at the beginning of the zero-waste, sustainable fashion journey. 

Here are some of the greatest benefits of organic fabrics, especially organic cotton:

Better for the Environment

Organic fabrics, including organic cotton, are better for the environment than other materials. 

One study of organic cotton produced in India revealed a 40 percent reduction in global warming potential and 72 percent lower primary energy demand compared to regular cotton fabric production. 

Another study showed that, on average, organic methods save 1,982 gallons of water per cotton T-shirt produced.

Organic cotton is also grown without harmful pesticides, reducing air pollution and the risk of health problems among the farmers growing and harvesting the cotton. Non-organic cotton crops account for 2.4 percent of the world’s cultivated land, but production uses six percent of the world’s pesticides.

Aligns with Stricter Safety Standards

Remember to think about the people making your clothing as well as the items themselves. 

Organic clothing products are manufactured according to the strictest safety standards. These standards ensure that the employees who make the clothing are protected and treated fairly while on the job (this includes being paid a living wage and working in safe conditions).

Fewer Allergy and Skin Irritation Concerns

Another benefit of clothing made from organic fabrics is that it’s less likely to cause skin irritation or trigger allergies. If you have sensitive skin or allergies, you won’t have to worry about them if you prioritize purchasing organic clothing. 

How to Incorporate Organic Fabrics into Your Wardrobe

You don’t have to throw out all your clothes and start over with all organic items. Here are some more practical tips for incorporating organic fabrics into your wardrobe:

  • Start with organic cotton undergarments: It makes sense to choose organic materials for the garments worn closest to the body. If you need to buy new bras, underwear, or socks, look for ones made with organic materials.
  • Check labels: Look at clothing labels to ensure items are made from certified organic cotton. Watch for certifications like GOTS and ZQ-certified wool.
  • Choose organic basics: When investing in new basics like t-shirts, sweaters, and pants, choose items made from organic materials. Because you’ll be wearing these pieces regularly, it makes sense to invest in organic fabrics. 

When clearing out your closet to make room for new organic items, be sure to donate or resell old clothing. Don’t throw it in the trash, as it will likely end up in a landfill from there, which contributes to the harmful effects of global warming. 

The Future of Sustainable Fashion

Sustainable fashion has become much more popular over the last few years. However, the industry still has a long way to go.

By choosing organic fabrics whenever possible, you send a signal to the market that there’s a demand for organic clothing -- which increases the likelihood that manufacturers will produce more of these items and make them more accessible.

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