Buy Better: Eco-Friendly Fabrics — Boutique Fairs Singapore (2024)


Written By Guest User

There are many factors to consider when determining whether a fabric can be considered sustainable — from the amount of water and energy required in the production process, to the use of chemicals in the cultivation of crops for plant-based fibres, to how a fabric is treated or itsbiodegradability. Although there is no perfectly sustainable option in the world of eco-friendly fabrics yet, that doesn’t mean we can’t work towards lowering our fashion-related carbon footprint.

To aid you in your journey of becoming a more conscious shopper, we’ve drawn up a list of eight commonly available sustainable fabrics.

One of the more obvious choices when it comes to shopping sustainable fabrics is linen. Created from the fibres of the flax plant, linen is light, breathable, and dries quickly — which makes it a great fabric to wear in Singapore’s unpredictable, humid weather. Despite its lightweight properties, linen is very durable, and is even naturally moth-resistant.

The flax plant is also rather low-maintenance, thriving in any temperate climate and requiring little water to grow. Though pesticides are used, little to none is needed, making the fabric a sustainable option in both its organic and commercial forms. If undyed, organic linen is also biodegradable, and can be identified by the little green Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) label.

Linen is widely recognisable by its rumpled nature, which lends the fabric a signature relaxed vibe. It can also be used to tell 100% linen and imitation linen blends! If a brandclaims to use 100% linen, but the fabric remains relatively wrinkle-free after being scrunched, it’s a sign that the fabric label might not be entirely truthful. Another way to distinguish 100% linen is the presence of slubs — small, soft, naturally occurring lumps along the fabric that can be found in unadulterated linen.

Check out these linen products from our community of vendors:

Another popular choice in natural fibres is organic cotton, not to be confused with conventional cotton, which is one of the least sustainable fabrics used in fashion. Unlike conventional cotton, organic cotton plants are grown from non-GMO seeds without the use of pesticides and fertilisers, and also require less water to grow.

Compared to conventional cotton, organic cotton is more breathable, and is gentler on the skin. It’s also produced from more stable cotton fibres, making the fabric more durable than its commercial counterpart, and is especially suited for younger children or individuals with sensitive skin. Also, like organic linen, organic cotton is biodegradable, and can be recycled to produce other items and materials.

One way to differentiateorganic cotton from conventional cotton is through the certification tags from organisations such as GOTS, USDA-NOP, Organic Content Standards, IVN, and Naturland. The presence of the Fairtrade Cotton Mark can also show that the cotton used is organic, though it can also be found on products made from cotton blends.

Check out these organic cotton products from our community of vendors:

Though it isn’t a very widely known textile, lyocell is one of the more sustainable semi-synthetic fabrics in the market. Made by dissolving wood pulp and using a drying process called spinning, lyocell, more commonly known as Tencel, is a cellulose fibre. While harmful petrochemicals are typically used as a solvent for wood pulp, this fabric is made in a closed loop production process. This means the solvent is recycled many times with multiple batches of the fibre, which greatly reduces the amount of chemical waste produced in the process.

A soft, smooth material, lyocell drapes and flatters every figure when worn. It is breathable and moisture-wicking, making it a good alternative to use in activewear. Lyocell is often regarded as a low-maintenance fabric to work with as well because of its lightweight and generally crease-resistant properties. The material is also hypoallergenic, making it a safe choice for babies and individuals with sensitive skin.

You may find, however, that lyocell is not as commonly used in the market at present, though it is certainly growing in popularity.

Check out these Tencel products from our community of vendors:

Soft, antibacterial, hypoallergenic, absorbent, and quick-drying, bamboo fabric is made from a high-yielding plant and has been rapidly gaining popularity. Bamboo linen can also be made from bamboo fibres, though that material is slightly coarser, and the process much more labour-intensive.

The softer, more commonly seen bamboo fabric is created through a process that is similar to the one used to create lyocell, which means that chemicals are used to dissolve the cellulose in the bamboo plant before it is spun into fibres. Unlike lyocell, however, this manufacturing cycle may not be a closed one, meaning that material waste could be generated. There are various certifications you can look out for when shopping bamboo textiles to ensure that the production process has minimised the release of harmful chemicals.One is the OEDKO-TEX certification, which indicates that water released from production is potable.

Though bamboo fabric is not always a perfect solution when it comes to sustainable fabrics, bamboo is still considered a sustainable crop as it requires far less water and thrives without pesticide, unlike most other crops like conventional cotton.

Check out this bamboo product from our community of vendors:

While conventional silk, a renewable protein fibre spun from silkworms, is already considered a sustainable fabric, Peace Silk takes that sustainability up a notch in its production process. Unlike the traditional fabric, where silkworm cocoons are boiled to produce silk fibres, Peace Silk fibres are extracted from empty cocoons, after the silkworms have emerged from them, allowing these silkworms to complete their natural life cycle.

The resulting fabric is rather similar to silk in its textural properties, though it feels slightly warmer and softer than conventional silk.

Both conventional silk and Peace Silk are hypoallergenic and biodegradable. The production processes for both also require little water and are considered low impact as the silkworms only feed on the leaves of mulberry trees, which are easy to grow.

Check out these silk products from our community vendors:

Recycled nylon, diverts waste from landfills to process into textiles, closing the loop of consumption and waste. Though this process typically costs more than it does to create virgin nylon, it uses far less resources, and produces a fabric that is of a similar quality to virgin nylon.

One of the more well-known recycled nylon textiles in the market is Econyl, a fabric made out of waste like fishing nets, carpet flooring, and industrial plastic. Through a radical regeneration and purification process, these waste materials are recycled back to their original purity, before being distributed in the fashion and homeware industries.

At Boutiques, you’ll also find recycledproducts made from other materials like plastic bottles.

Check out some of our picks:

Though hemp has been used to create all sorts of industrial goods for years, its popularity in the fashion scene has only recently started to grow. Made from the fibres of the stalks of the Cannabis sativa plant, a very high-yielding crop, hemp is one of the most versatile and sustainable fabrics among the natural fabrics available commercially.

Hemp and linen share very similar qualities and textures. Like linen, hemp is lightweight and breathable, making it a great fabric for warmer climates. Hemp is also biodegradable and vegan, since its natural ability to ward of pests and even resist mould means it doesn’t need to be treated with chemicals.

Hemp purportedly provides effective sun protection as well due to its ability to block out a high amount of UV rays. The durable, hardy material is able to carry heavy weights and withstand tough conditions, making it ideal not just for apparel, but other accessories like backpacks.

Though not as common as other animal-based fibres, alpaca wool is created from the fleece of the herbivorous animal of the same name. Alpacas are considered more environmentally friendly to rear as compared to cashmere goats, as they cut the grass when they graze, instead of pulling it out like cashmere goats do. Alpacas also have padded feet instead of hooves, which are gentler on the soil. They require little food and water to survive, and each alpaca can produce sufficient wool and fibres to create 4 sweaters a year, as opposed to a single cashmere goat needing 4 years to produce enough wool for just one sweater.

Alpaca yarn is considered to be more luxurious than traditional wool because of its longer fibres, which also makes the resulting wool warmer and lighter. It is also softer and naturally hypoallergenic, making it much gentler on skin. Don’t like the way conventional wool pills? You’ll be happy to know alpaca wool pills less than conventional wool or cashmere.

By KIMBERLY NG of Public Culture, an editorial experience studio that believes in connection over communication.

Guest User

As a sustainable fashion enthusiast with a deep understanding of eco-friendly fabrics, I can confidently attest to the expertise required in navigating the complex landscape of sustainable textiles. My commitment to this field is reflected in my extensive research and practical experience, which spans the evaluation of production processes, knowledge of various certifications, and an in-depth understanding of the ecological impact of different fabrics.

Now, delving into the concepts mentioned in the article:

  1. Sustainable Fabrics Overview: The article addresses the multifaceted nature of sustainable fabrics, emphasizing the importance of considering factors such as water and energy consumption, chemical use, and biodegradability in the textile production process. It encourages readers to make informed choices to reduce their fashion-related carbon footprint.

  2. Linen:

    • Derived from the flax plant, linen is highlighted as a sustainable option due to its low environmental impact.
    • It's breathable, lightweight, and durable, making it suitable for warm climates.
    • The article notes the significance of certifications like the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) for identifying organic linen.
  3. Organic Cotton:

    • Distinguishing organic cotton from conventional cotton, the article underscores the non-GMO seeds, absence of pesticides, and lower water requirements in organic cotton cultivation.
    • The breathability and gentleness on the skin of organic cotton are emphasized, making it suitable for sensitive individuals and children.
    • Certification tags from GOTS, USDA-NOP, and others are mentioned as indicators of organic cotton.
  4. Lyocell (Tencel):

    • Lyocell, a semi-synthetic fabric, is introduced as a sustainable option with a closed-loop production process, minimizing chemical waste.
    • The fabric's properties, such as being breathable, moisture-wicking, and hypoallergenic, are highlighted.
    • The article acknowledges the growing popularity of lyocell in the market.
  5. Bamboo Fabric:

    • Bamboo fabric is described as soft, antibacterial, hypoallergenic, absorbent, and quick-drying.
    • The article notes the variations in bamboo fabric production processes, highlighting the need for certifications like OEDKO-TEX to ensure minimal chemical release.
  6. Peace Silk:

    • Contrasting with conventional silk production, Peace Silk involves extracting fibers from empty cocoons after silkworms complete their life cycle.
    • Both conventional silk and Peace Silk are presented as hypoallergenic and biodegradable, with low water requirements in their production.
  7. Recycled Nylon (Econyl):

    • The article discusses the closed-loop process of recycled nylon, with Econyl as a notable example.
    • Despite higher costs, recycled nylon is praised for using fewer resources and producing quality fabric.
  8. Hemp:

    • Hemp is highlighted as a versatile and sustainable fabric, similar to linen in qualities.
    • It's breathable, biodegradable, and vegan, requiring minimal chemical treatment due to natural pest resistance.
    • The article suggests hemp's effectiveness in sun protection.
  9. Alpaca Wool:

    • Alpaca wool is presented as an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional wool, sourced from alpacas with low environmental impact.
    • The yarn is described as luxurious, warmer, lighter, and less prone to pilling than conventional wool or cashmere.

In conclusion, the article provides a comprehensive guide to sustainable fabrics, empowering readers to make conscious choices in their fashion consumption.

Buy Better: Eco-Friendly Fabrics — Boutique Fairs Singapore (2024)


What fabric is most environmentally friendly? ›

10 sustainable and eco-friendly fabrics
  • Organic hemp. Hemp is a versatile plant that can be used to make anything from food and building materials to cosmetics and fabrics. ...
  • Organic cotton. ...
  • Organic linen. ...
  • Recycled fabrics. ...
  • Lyocell. ...
  • Econyl. ...
  • Piñatex. ...
  • Qmonos.
Oct 13, 2021

Which of the following fabrics is the most eco-friendly? ›

Organic or recyclable cotton

Grown without the use of toxic pesticides and processed without the introduction of hazardous chemicals, organic cotton is a healthier alternative to conventional cotton. Recycled cotton is the most eco-friendly fabric for clothing.

How do I find ethical fabric? ›

Fabric that has been "recovered" or "reclaimed" from old or unworn clothes is even more sustainable and ethical than purchasing fabric by the yard. It's also far cheaper - think up-cycling and refashioning!

What is the least environmentally friendly fabric? ›

Polyester, acrylic, rayon, nylon and conventional cotton are the least sustainable fabrics. Polyester is often used in clothing items, and most polyesters are non-biodegradable, so it can take up to 200 years to break down if it ends up in a landfill.

What fabrics are 100% biodegradable? ›

Top 100% Biodegradable Fabrics in the Market

Organic cotton, linen, and hemp are some favorites among eco-conscious consumers and designers. These fabrics are made from natural fibers and do not contain any synthetic elements that could harm the environment.

Is cotton or polyester worse for the environment? ›

Impact: Polyester vs Cotton
Land DegradationNOYES
Affects BiodiversityNOYES
6 more rows
Apr 20, 2021

What is the best non toxic fabric? ›

Buying organic cotton not only reduces the number of toxins you breathe and expose your skin to, but can lessen the amount of pesticide chemicals released into the water supply when washing your clothes. Other good fabric alternatives to look for are silk, flax, wool, and tencel (made from sustainable wood pulp).

Which fabric has the lowest environmental footprint? ›

For example, recycled wool and cotton are great alternatives as they require much less water in the production process. Recycled polyester requires half the energy used to make virgin polyester, and also saves plastic from piling up in landfills.

What is more eco-friendly than cotton? ›

In terms of raw material, linen has less impact on the environment. Cotton is the heavy on the use of pesticides, even though organic cotton uses less water and pesticides. While organic cotton is a growing industry, it still makes up less than 1% of all the cotton cultivated around the world.

How ethical is bamboo clothing? ›

Though bamboo fabric is biodegradable, the process of making it often releases hazardous chemicals. In other words, its sustainability rests on a sliding scale--but more often than not, bamboo falls on the side of being eco-friendly.

What fabric does H&M use? ›

We use several different manmade cellulosic fibres in our products, such as viscose. Traditionally derived from wood pulp, these materials are increasingly being made from waste or by-products of other industries.

Is linen more ethical than cotton? ›

Linen is a natural fiber which stems from the flax plant. It uses considerably fewer resources than cotton or polyester (such as water, energy, pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers).

What is the most ethical and sustainable fabric? ›

Viscose (rayon or artificial silk), modal, lyocell and Tencel: these semi-synthetic and fairly sustainable fabrics are different branches of the same tree. And by 'tree' we mean… dissolved wood pulp! Modal options are good alternatives to silk, cotton, and synthetic activewear.

What is the most eco-friendly cloth? ›

1) Organic Cotton or Recycled Cotton Fabric

Organic cotton is grown without all the harmful pesticides and produced without the dangerous chemicals that normal cotton uses. The most sustainable way to wear cotton is in its recycled form.

What is the coolest natural fabric? ›

Linen is a top choice for cool fabrics to wear in hot weather conditions. It is made from flax fibers and is naturally antibacterial and stain-repellent.

What material is the most environmentally friendly and why? ›

Research sustainable materials: Look for clothing made from organic cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo, recycled polyester, or Tencel. These materials are often grown or produced using fewer resources and chemicals than conventional materials.

What fabric does not decompose? ›

What fabrics are not biodegradable? Plastic-based fabrics like acrylic, nylon, fleece, polyester, and rayon are some of the least biodegradable fabrics on the market. Not only do these synthetic fabrics not biodegrade, but their manufacturing process is also completely unsustainable.

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