While out fabric hunting, I not only discovered some beautiful new eco-friendly fabrics but also learnt there’s more to eco-friendly fabrics than what meets the eye. Here’s what you need to know.
What Makes a Fabric Eco-friendly
Generally plant-based fibres like cotton, linen, hemp and bamboo together with animal-based fibres like silk, wool and leather are considered environmentally friendly because they are natural and therefore biodegradable; but it’s not that simple.
- Cotton production requires intensive water irrigation, labour and pesticides, which can be harmful to the environment and people.
- Bamboo is an exciting one to watch as it is fast-growing and requires no pesticides, however chemicals used in the manufacture of soft fibres need to be carefully managed.
- When it comes to leathers, toxic chemicals used in tanneries often end up in rivers and lakes.
- Synthetic fibre like polyester is made from chemicals but it’s durability means it’s often longer lasting and there are some great recycled options.
So to avoid confusion, when looking for eco-friendly fabrics consider Organic, Recycled or Vegan Fabrics as described below.
Organic fabrics are natural plant-based fibres which are durable, breathable and have good colour saturation. In addition many are biodegradable and non-allergenic.
Examples of Organic fabrics:
- Organic cotton – Grown and harvested without pesticides, it is versatile, resilient and comes in a wide range of textures and weights.
- Linen – Made from flax, can be blended with other fibres to make it more hard wearing.
- Hemp – A versatile and strong fibre producing fine fabrics.
- Jute – Made from the jute plant, it is inexpensive to grow and does not need chemicals.
- Bamboo – The fastest growing most sustainable plant.
On a visit to Hertex I discovered Organic Flora – a trendy and geometric fabric collection – made from 100% organic cotton. The fabric is GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified, which ensures all processes were conducted in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
Linwood’s new Verde fabric collection is woven with 80% recycled cotton from the fashion industry. This plain eco-friendly fabric is chemical-free and double brushed so it is soft on both sides.
It is available in 46 shades and is Ideal for curtains, loose covers and upholstery.
The Mavromac Eco-Cotton range is made from 100% regenerated i.e. recycled cotton preventing tons of textile waste from entering landfills. The beautiful range of natural shades originates from Italy.
Camira fabrics partnered with the SEAQUAL initiative to launch Oceanic, a fabric made entirely from recycled plastic in their mission to help combat marine pollution. Each metre contains the equivalent of 26 plastic bottles.
We were invited to visit the House of Canvex in Durban South Africa to see how their fabrics made from recyled plastic bottles are manufactured. They have increased their range to include different weights and textures and it is great to see how well their fabrics have been received locally and internationally.
As I mentioned in my post Vegan Interior Design is on the Rise, vegan fabrics are not only kinder to animals but also the environment.
We may not realize the suffering that goes into the production of leather, down and wool, it’s not something we like to think about.
However, in addition to the humane aspect there is the health aspect.
Many hides and animal skins are treated with chemical products that penetrate our skin, while wool, feathers and down are the perfect breeding ground for dust mites which can lead to respiratory issues.
So it’s no wonder the popularity of vegan fabrics is increasing, they are gentler and easier to live with, especially for children and allergy sensitive adults.
Vegan fabrics exclude leather, suede, wool, fur, feathers, silk and include:
- Organic cotton
- Micro-fibre – down alternative
- Synthetic Leathers
- Pineapple, apple and mushroom fabrics
Ultrafabrics new Volar Bio faux leather is made from renewable plant based materials which won them the prestigious innovation award in the 2020 Peta Vegan Homeware Awards.
For more information on Vegan Interior Design follow @vegan.interior.design on Instagram.
While sourcing fabrics ask as many questions as you can to ensure the fabrics you choose are eco-friendly.
- Ethically and fair manufacture
- Humane and cruelty-free
- Minimal waste and use of chemicals
- High recyclable content.
As consumers we have the power to choose materials and products that ensure our homes are beautiful and healthy without putting strain on the environment. It really is up to us.
Please let me know of any other eco-friendly fabrics you can recommend in the comments.