When it comes to sustainable, easy-on-the-earth clothing, there are some great options. But the apparel industry is still one of the biggest polluters on the planet due to poor-quality, cheaply made clothing. The industry is the second largest industrial polluter, second only to oil, and accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions. We’re doing our part to bring those numbers down by making high-quality clothing from better fibers. Our Sustainability Cheat Sheet identifies fibers that we think are good based on their low environmental impact, and fibers that aren’t so great because of their dirty production processes. Look at the tags or fabric content before you buy: If the majority of its fibers are from the ‘great’ list, it’s probably A-Okay; avoid buying items with ingredients from the ‘not so great’ list. You vote at the ballot box for sustainable climate measures, so vote with your dollars for sustainable, eco-friendly clothes. When you make educated choices, you can live well and do good.
The ONLY cotton in our eyes. Starts with GMO-free seed and follows practices that maintain soil health, conserve water and support biodiversity. 100% of our cotton is certified organic cotton. Period.
Soft, perfect drape and made from responsibly forested trees in a closed-loop system. Efficient, clean and 98% of by-products are recovered and reused. Waste not, want not.
Starts with sustainably grown trees and processed in an energy-efficient system that reuses most of the by-products. We’re big fans.
Goodbye plastic bottles, hello awesome fabrics. Made from post-consumer plastic waste which reduces emissions and uses less water that virgin polyester. Also stems the mountain of trash entering landfills and oceans.
HEMP & LINEN
Hemp & Linen are fast growing, low maintenance crops that are grown primarily with rain water, requiring minimal chemical inputs during growth and processing. Extra hemp bonus: the entire plant can be used!
Upcycled wool garments and mill scraps are spun into new, performance fabrics, sparing reusable materials from landfills and drastically reducing the resources needed to grow, graze and process new wool. Bah-utiful!
The bluesign® system takes into account the use of energy, water, chemistry, emissions and worker safety during fabric production. In Fall 2017 we have 13 bluesign® approved fabrics across 23 styles.
Not So Great Fibers
Acrylic may be cheap, but the costs are high. Acrylic is made from polyacylonitrile (a soft plastic and known carcinogen) in a chemical and energy intensive process. Toxic by-products during manufacturing have been linked to occupational hazards and waste water is difficult to treat. Acrylic fabric is nearly impossible to recycle. We refuse to use acrylic in any of our fabrics.
Though Bamboo has natural origins, converting stalky bamboo into fabric is a dirty process. Pulping and spinning requires toxic chemicals and high energy demands. Issues with non-sustainable tree-sourcing risk deforestation of ancient bamboo forests. It’s common to see misleading eco-claims about bamboo (“bamboozling”) so we stay away from it altogether, preferring to use verified eco-friendly fibers like Tencel® and recycled polyester.
Don’t be fooled – regular cotton is pretty darn unnatural. It starts with GMO seed and high use of herbicides, inorganic fertilizers and hazardous pesticides. The process has high water use due to irrigation. For us, it’s organic cotton or bust.
Cheap fibers leave big environmental footprints. Making rayon viscose is an energy intensive process that generally starts with unknown tree sources which can lead to deforestation in places like the Indonesian rainforests. Toxic chemicals are used in the pulping and spinning processes which generates harmful waste and by-product. Given alternatives like Lenzing Modal®, we steer clear of rayon viscose fibers.
Sure silk looks and feels amazing, but it requires a lot of trees and their tasty leaves to keep those worms fed. Large quantities of chemicals are used for growth hormones and de-gumming the silk thread from its sticky residue. Lastly, a lot of energy is required for processing.
Verified industry sources:
Textile Exchange Material Snapshots 2015, SAC Higg Index, Made-By Environmental Benchmark for Fibers