Materials for a greener future: The latest developments in sustainable material sourcing. The fashion industry is an ever-evolving entity. However, due to the increase in human population, the demand for clothing has been causing strain on the earth’s natural resources, meaning the majority of companies are using cheaper, non-sustainable alternatives that ultimately have a drastically negative effect on the environment.
However, over time and with the increasing evidence of the negative impacts of fast fashion, the benefits of using sustainable materials are becoming far more evident.
With this in mind and the demand from eco-friendly consumers, the industry has been developing sustainable and socially responsible material sourcing methods.
At STUDIO EVA D, we make sustainably conscious decisions regarding material sourcing, some of which are included in the latest environmentally conscious fashion industry developments.
By focusing on soil health, increasing biodiversity and maintaining eco-systems, regenerative agriculture is a farming practice that can ultimately reduce carbon emissions in the fashion industry.
Regenerative materials include:
Probably the most-grown crop in the world, regenerative cotton uses fewer synthetic pesticides and can be grown with methods that reduce water waste and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Using farming practices prioritising the land’s health and the animals’ welfare, regenerative wool development balances ecosystems for plant life by introducing grazing methods that allow plant regeneration and healthy soil.
Used to create linen, this durable and versatile plant needs less water to grow and is completely biodegradable as a material. It’s a renewable resource and can be harvested annually, and it is an excellent plant for carbon absorption from the atmosphere.
Leather is a byproduct of the meat and dairy industry. Using hides from animals raised for food helps reduce waste from other materials that would otherwise be discarded. With the correct approach to grazing, biodiversity management and water conservation, the leather industry can help reduce the manufacturing of synthetic materials in the fashion industry.
There has been an influx of plant-based alternatives in the fashion industry.
Although not yet a perfect replacement for the real thing, there has been a massive increase in materials that replicate the same look and feel, and some are derived from pineapple leaves and even mushrooms!
There is a global market for leather alternatives and an evolving demand for ‘bio-based’ leather, estimated at $670 million in 2021.
Using the root structure of a genus of mycelium, a Californian company ‘Mycoworks’ has successfully created an alternative that resembles the look and feel of genuine leather.
Mycelium leather is a promising alternative to organic leather, which is biodegradable and can be composted and turned into soil when no longer needed.
In a global industry that essentially lays waste to 40,000 tonnes of pineapple leaves each year, farmers have been separating the leaves to process the fibres and create a leather alternative.
Although the process uses no additional water or pesticides, its development process uses certain chemicals that are plastic based; therefore, it still isn’t 100% biodegradable.
Recycled and up-cycled materials
Repurposing and modifying recycled clothes to extend their lifespan and reduce waste have been practised for centuries.
Still, It wasn’t until the early 1990s that the term “up-cycling” was coined to describe creating value from waste materials.
Using collected, cleaned and broken down consumer waste (like plastic bottles), recycled polyester is created by melting the waste product and creating new polyester fibres, then woven into fabrics.
Patagonia was one of the first brands to do this, thus changing the future of material sourcing by using less non-renewable fossil fuels and landfill mass.
Leading international brands are now boasting a zero-waste formula by up-cycling denim.
Since it is a durable fabric, it can easily be repurposed into new garments and accessories, ultimately extending the material’s lifespan and reducing waste.
After sourcing old denim products, it is sorted, cut into pieces, and patched together to create a new design.
This sustainable technique has been a perfect way for designers to create unique designs while reducing waste.
Depending on the production and sourcing, using biodegradable materials in fashion is a sustainable option.
There are an array of materials that use less water, are quick to reproduce and break down very quickly.
Growing at a rapid three feet per day and requiring zero pesticides or fertilisers, this renewable resource can be turned into a pulp extract and ultimately transformed into soft, breathable and even antibacterial wear.
It’s a material that’s perfect for sportswear since it has moisture-absorbing properties, which absorb moisture away from the skin and help keep the wearer dry.
With the fashion industry in massive demand for sustainable alternatives, hemp appears to be the next contender to cotton. This durable, breathable and versatile material is even a natural protector against UV rays, making it an excellent option for outdoor clothing! Using traditional or modern techniques, hemp can create a wide range of fabrics and textiles with different properties and applications. Under suitable conditions, it is an excellent biodegradable product.
Traceability and transparency
Now critical aspects of sustainability in fashion, companies are using methods of traceability and transparency to set standards and regulations to reach a greener future.
Traceability refers to the ability to trace the entire journey of a product from its origin to the point of sale, allowing consumers to understand where materials are sourced, processed and transported.
For consumers to understand what kind of company they buy from, brands are transparent by sharing information regarding their worker’s rights, brand operations, supply chains, production processes, and social and environmental impacts.
This allows greater accountability, collaboration and progress towards a more sustainable future.
Wear what you love. Cherish it, and it lasts a long time.
Don’t miss out on new insights by subscribing to our free newsletter to receive the latest news on our projects, campaigns, discounts, and more!