5 Fabrics You Need to Know to Build a Sustainable Wardrobe

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How important is fabrication when it comes to building your wardrobe? Very! Not only does wearability and durability factor into your fabric choices but they also play an important role when it comes to the sustainability of your wardrobe. For obvious reasons it's best to stick to natural fibers where possible, synthetic or man made fibers such as polyester, nylon and acrylic are petroleum derived fibers, cause micro plastic pollution when washed and are not biodegradable. 

So let's get to know the fabrics you should favour with the most common natural fibers you'll find in your wardrobe and how you can make the most of them:

Cotton

Qualities: Absorbant, Breathable, Soft and Comfortable 

What You Need To Know: Conventional cotton is known for it's use of pesticides to speed up the growth process, and because of this requires larger amounts of water. Organic cotton is always the better choice for people and the environment as it causes no harm at any stage of it's lifecycle.

Linen  

Qualities: Absorbant, Breathable, Durable, Lightweight

What You Need To Know: Although, as we all know, linen wrinkles easily it is also the most breathable and lightweight fabric for warmer weather. Pesticide use in growing flax plants is less common than with cotton and it requires less water, plus it decomposes quickly. 

Wool 

Qualities: Moisture Wicking, Hypoallergenic, Durable

What You Need To Know: Wool production is generally an organic process without the use of chemicals and because it's a renewable resource it's completely sustainable. However, the practice of mulesing, removing wool-bearing skin around the breech of a sheep to prevent flystrike, is still used by some farmers presenting animal rights concerns. 

Silk

Qualities: Absorbant, Excellent Drape, Durable

What You Need To Know: Conventional silk is a sustainable fabric derived from boiling the inner cocoon of a silkworm, however most commercial silk is produced by boiling the entire cocoon before the silkworm emerges which causes the single silk strand to break. With little to no chemical use in production and silk being a natural fiber it is readily biodegradable.

Rayon

Qualities: Highly Absorbant, Soft and Comfortable 

What You Need To Know: Rayon is produced using the cellulose from wood pulp, but although it is derived from trees it is actually a semi-synthetic fiber. This is because of the sodium hydroxide required in the processing of this fiber to break down the wood into a pulp and then a fiber. This is also the case for other forms of Rayon which include Viscose, Modal and Lyocell fabrics, plus Bamboo which also has a plant base.