9+ Sustainable Materials And Fabrics You Should Know About

Ever wonder what lies behind the eco-friendly labels of organic cotton, linen, or Tencel? These aren't just trendy terms; they're the key to unlocking a more sustainable fabric material journey. But, it's not enough to pick clothes labeled with sustainable fabrics; understanding their true impact is crucial.

Today, we're here to simplify fabric sustainability for you. Whether you're a designer aiming for a greener line or a shopper eager to make conscious choices, knowing about sustainable fabrics and textiles is essential. It's all about making informed decisions that help us inch closer to our eco goals. 

We'll explore what makes a fabric genuinely sustainable and how to ensure the materials you choose to support a healthier planet. Ready to refine your wardrobe with truly sustainable choices? Let's dive into the world of eco-friendly fabrics together.

Why Sustainable Fabrics Matter

The fast fashion industry, notorious for being a major polluter, thrives on cheap materials like polyester and nylon, contributing significantly to environmental degradation. These textiles not only dominate landfill space but also release microplastics, posing a severe threat to our ecosystem. So, what's the alternative? Lottie Bertello, a pioneer in upcycled fashion, champions natural fibers and upcycled products for their minimal environmental impact. From organic cotton to alpaca wool, these sustainable fabrics textiles offer a breath of fresh air in resource use and waste reduction.

What Makes a Fabric Sustainable?

Not all natural fibers are created equal. The sustainability of fabric hinges on ethical production practices. For instance, a hemp garment might boast eco-friendly material, but if it's not ethically woven, can we truly call it sustainable? According to Bertello, fabric sustainability also depends on new technologies that minimize the energy and water footprint in producing fabrics like organic cotton.

The Dark Side of Polyester

While natural fibers lead the way in sustainability, synthetic fibers like polyester, despite their prevalence in "performance" garments, fall short. The quest for more sustainable options in activewear is on, with cotton blended with a touch of spandex emerging as a viable alternative.

Shopping for Sustainable Fabrics

Transparency is key when shopping for sustainable fashion. Ethical brands are typically forthcoming about their material sourcing and production processes. If in doubt, reach out! Inquiries about fabric sourcing are welcomed by genuinely sustainable brands. Remember, the essence of sustainability lies in purchasing less but better quality that stands the test of time.

Tackling Greenwashing

In a world rife with greenwashing, understanding what your clothes are made of is crucial. Familiarize yourself with labels and certifications that signify sustainable fabrics. Look out for marks of authenticity like Fairtrade Certified, Cradle to Cradle®, and GOTS certified, among others. These certifications are your compass in identifying truly eco-friendly clothes.

1. Organic Hemp:

Known as one of the oldest fibers used in clothing, organic hemp is celebrated for its minimal environmental impact. Requiring little water, no pesticides, and improving soil health, hemp is a powerhouse of sustainable fabrics textiles. When grown organically, hemp exemplifies fabric sustainability, offering a durable and comfortable alternative that gets softer with each wash.

2. Organic Cotton:

While conventional cotton is a thirsty and chemical-intensive crop, organic cotton presents a greener alternative. Grown without harmful pesticides or chemicals, organic cotton sets a high standard for sustainable fabrics. For those looking to go even greener, recycled cotton further minimizes waste and resource use, making it a top choice for sustainable fabric material.

3. Organic Linen:

Much like hemp, organic linen boasts a low environmental impact, requiring minimal water and chemicals to thrive. Its biodegradability and minimal waste production during manufacturing make linen an excellent example of fabric sustainability. Strong, light, and naturally moth-resistant, linen is a testament to the longevity and eco-friendliness of sustainable fabrics textiles.

4. Recycled Polyester:

In contrast to its virgin counterpart, recycled polyester offers a sustainable fabric material solution by repurposing plastic bottles and reducing landfill waste. Although it still releases microplastics, its production is less resource-intensive, marking a step forward in the journey towards sustainable fabrics.

5. Lyocell (Tencel):

Produced from wood pulp, Lyocell, particularly the Tencel brand, stands out for its eco-friendly production process and biodegradability. With properties like absorbency, anti-bacterial, and moisture resistance, Lyocell embodies the essence of fabric sustainability while offering a soft, durable material for various fashion applications.

6. Econyl:

Econyl, a form of recycled nylon made from synthetic waste, mirrors the performance of virgin nylon while significantly reducing environmental impact. Though it still sheds microplastics, Econyl's recycling process uses far fewer resources, highlighting the complexities of achieving full fabric sustainability.

7. Piñatex:

A sustainable alternative to leather, Piñatex is made from pineapple leaf fibers, a by-product of the pineapple industry. This innovative sustainable fabric material offers an ethical and eco-friendly option for fashion enthusiasts looking to avoid animal-derived or plastic-based materials.

8. Qmonos (Synthetic Spider Silk):

Qmonos represents a breakthrough in sustainable fabrics, offering a biodegradable, vegan-friendly option that's five times stronger than steel yet lightweight and flexible. Despite its high cost and rarity, Qmonos underscores the potential of technology in advancing fabric sustainability.

9. Deadstock Fabric:

Utilizing deadstock fabric aligns with the principles of sustainable fabrics by giving new life to unused textiles, thus avoiding additional manufacturing impacts. While the sustainability of deadstock varies, opting for vintage deadstock can be a truly eco-conscious choice.

10. Bamboo:

Bamboo fabric, often lauded for its softness and eco-friendly growth characteristics, faces scrutiny over its chemical-intensive manufacturing process. However, when produced responsibly, bamboo can be a more sustainable choice than conventional cotton or polyester, illustrating the nuances of sustainable fabrics textiles.


Choosing sustainable fabrics is about more than just selecting eco-friendly materials; it's about understanding the entire lifecycle of the fabric, from production to disposal. By opting for materials like organic hemp, recycled polyester, or Tencel, we can make informed decisions that support the health of our planet. As we continue to navigate the complexities of fabric sustainability, let's commit to being curious, conscious consumers, always striving to make better choices for a greener tomorrow.