Rayon (viscose). Polyester. Nylon. Silk. Linen. Tencel. Cotton. Textiles–what your clothes were before they were, well, clothes. Textile production is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Let’s start with the basics–
Your favorite tee-shirt may not be so innocent. As one of the thirstiest plants, it takes 2,700 liters of water to make a single shirt. Not to mention the amount of labor and acreage involved to keep the crops happy.
Polyester and nylon — the synthetics
These man-made textiles aren’t completely innocent either. In fact, they may even be more guilty. Polyester and nylon are made using chemical reactions between coal, petroleum, and water. Not exactly the cleanest life.
From the flax plant, is strong and durable. Plus it has a longer lifespan thanks to longer fibers and a variety of weaves. When untreated with dyes, it is 100% biodegradable. Linen for the win.
Highly regarded in the fashion industry as one of the most versatile fabrics, and there’s a reason for it. Rayon is made from wood pulp, a cellulosic fibre. A sustainable alternative to cotton and polyester, as well as a cheaper alternative to silk, rayon is who to thank for drapey summer dresses and soft blouses.Unfortunately, the solvent used to make this fabric can often be highly toxic, but there are companies changing that.
One of the oldest fabrics, silk dates back thousands of years in China and beyond. A finely wound thread from silkworms is used to create the luxe and highly coveted fabric. Thanks, nature.
Who knew eucalyptus trees were so versatile? Requiring far less water and energy to produce than cotton, Tencel is quickly becoming a household name. Used in cooling bed sheets and drapey shirts, Tencel has become the go-to for many companies looking to be more sustainable.
While this is not a complete list of what our clothes are made of, these are the most common and have the biggest impact.