10 Most Sustainable Lyocell Clothing Brands: The Conscious Consumer’s Guide

10 Most Sustainable Lyocell Clothing Brands: The Conscious Consumer’s Guide

By
Quynh Nguyen

Read Time:27 Minutes

CLICK TO
SUBSCRIBE

follow follow
Impactful Ninja is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more Learn more .
Affiliate Disclosure

Hey fellow impactful ninja ?

You may have noticed that Impactful Ninja is all about providing helpful information to make a positive impact on the world and society. And that we love to link back to where we found all the information for each of our posts.

  • Most of these links are informational-based for you to check out their primary sources with one click.

  • But some of these links are so-called "affiliate links" to products that we recommend.

Why do we add these product links?

First and foremost, because we believe that they add value to you. For example, when we wrote a post about the environmental impact of long showers, we came across an EPA recommendation to use WaterSense showerheads. So we linked to where you can find them. Or, for many of our posts, we also link to our favorite books on that topic so that you can get a much more holistic overview than one single blog post could provide.

And when there is an affiliate program for these products, we sign up for it. For example, as Amazon Associates, we earn from qualifying purchases.

What do these affiliate links mean for you?
  1. First, and most importantly, we still only recommend products that we believe add value for you.

  2. When you buy something through one of our affiliate links, we may earn a small commission - but at no additional costs to you.

  3. And when you buy something through a link that is not an affiliate link, we won’t receive any commission but we’ll still be happy to have helped you.

What do these affiliate links mean for us?
  1. When we find products that we believe add value to you and the seller has an affiliate program, we sign up for it.

  2. When you buy something through one of our affiliate links, we may earn a small commission (at no extra costs to you).

  3. And at this point in time, all money is reinvested in sharing the most helpful content with you. This includes all operating costs for running this site and the content creation itself.

What does this mean for me personally?

You may have noticed by the way Impactful Ninja is operated that money is not the driving factor behind it. It is a passion project of mine and I love to share helpful information with you to make a positive impact on the world and society. However, it's a project in that I invest a lot of time and also quite some money.

Eventually, my dream is to one day turn this passion project into my full-time job and provide even more helpful information. But that's still a long time to go.

Stay impactful,

Amid growing concerns about the textile industry’s environmental impact, there is pressure to find greener clothes for your wardrobe. Lyocell clothes are a great option because lyocell is a plant-based, durable material that can be produced in a closed loop. Unfortunately, fashion greenwashing makes it harder for you and all other consumers to figure out which lyocell clothing brands offer the most eco-friendly clothes. So, we had to ask: Which are the most sustainable lyocell clothing brands? 

The most sustainable lyocell clothing brands include MATE the Label, Tentree, and Neu Nomads, which use low-impact materials, employ full traceability, and strive for textile circularity. In addition, People Tree and Whimsy + Row commit to fair trade practices and lower carbon footprints.

Whether you are searching for an elegant evening dress, a casual top, or a pair of leggings for activewear to add to your wardrobe without negatively impacting the soil, the water, the animals, and other people, there is a brand for you. So, let’s keep reading to learn more about the most sustainable lyocell clothing brands and how they ensure sustainable, ethical practices. 

Here’s How Sustainable Lyocell Generally Are

Lyocell is a semi-synthetic fabric made with regenerated cellulose fibers and dissolvent chemicals. This textile material is typically made with cellulose fibers from eucalyptus wood. Eucalyptus are fast-growing adaptive tree species with significant carbon sequestration potential. 

Sustainable: The ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level | Avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance”

Oxford Dictionary

To understand the sustainability of lyocell, we’ve assessed the life-cycle and each stage’s sustainability. This life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a method to evaluate the environmental impacts of products and materials. Here’s a quick summary of our LCA of lyocell!

What makes it so sustainable: Lyocell fibers are derived from fast-growing, adaptive plants and are fully biodegradable at the end of their life. The lyocell manufacturing process uses organic solvents that can be recovered up to 99.5% in a closed-loop system. The material is durable and breathable. 

Additionally: Eucalyptus and bamboo, the two most common feedstocks for lyocell fabrics, require little irrigation and thrive in a wide natural range. 

Related: Are you interested in the whole story about lyocell? Then check out our full article: “How Sustainable Are Lyocell Fabrics? A Life-Cycle Assessment

Here’s How We Selected the Most Sustainable Lyocell Clothing Brands

The brands on this list were chosen based on their commitment and actions to promote sustainable practices while reducing the environmental impacts of the textile industry. 

They are transparent about their materials, processes, and workforce management within their supply chain. 

Some brands focus their efforts on reducing waste and optimizing natural resources while others strive to reduce the carbon footprint of their clothes. 

All of these brands share the commitment to reshape the textile industry toward a more sustainable and Earth-friendly sector. 

These Are the 10 Most Sustainable Lyocell Clothing Brands

Overall, these lyocell clothing brands are sustainable. Yet, they take various approaches to reduce environmental impacts and uphold ethical standards. Let’s dive into each brand and find out more. 

1

MATE the Label: Clean From Seed to Skin

Logo for MATE the Label
Screenshot of the MATE the label front page

To provide people everywhere with essentials that are clean from seed to skin.

MATE the Label

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

MATE the Label ensures sustainability by sourcing low-impact natural materials, reducing carbon footprints, and recycling. They opt for plant-based yarns and non-toxic dyes. At least 50% of their clothing items are made with organic or recycled plant fibers. Furthermore, they manufacture locally (within 15 miles of their office) to reduce transportation emissions. The brand diverts their textile waste (pre- and post-consumer) into making new products. They have B Corporation and Climate Neutral certifications. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

MATE the Label has a Code of Conduct covering some ILO Four Fundamental Freedoms principles. Specifically, they do final production in US factories where they had banned, since day 1, the piece rate pay—a practice that often leads to wages below minimum wage and unsafe working conditions. They commit to creating safe, comfortable, and fair working environments for everyone in their supply chain, including farmers, garment workers, and recyclers. They also make regular visits to their suppliers

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

In 2021, MATE the Label donated 1% of sales to nonprofit partners that are committed to saving the planet. On Giving Tuesday in 2021, they upped the donation from 1% of every purchase to 5%. Since their partnership with BEAM Impact, MATE the Label’s consumers can choose which organization the donations of their order should go to. 

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: minimalistic, versatile clothes for women
  • Product range: sweaters, dresses, pants, hoodies, maternity wear, blouses, T-shirts, jumpsuits, underwear
  • Price range: $$
  • Size range: XS–XL
2

Tentree: A Lifestyle Clothing Brand That Plants Trees for Every Item Purchased

Logo for Tentree
Screenshot of the Tentree front page

We believe the future of business is restorative.

Tentree 

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Tentree ensures sustainability by planting trees, promoting circularity, opting for low-impact fabrics, and attaining responsible packaging. Since their inception, they have planted more than 100,000,000 trees, which helps regenerate ecosystems, capture carbon, and provide forestry jobs in communities around the world. Together with textile recycler SuperCircle and resale guru Treet, Tentree has created an integrated solution to resell or recycle pre-loved Tentree clothing items, keeping them in circulation and out of landfills. Tentree also uses eco-friendly fabrics and blends, including organic cotton, hemp, recycled polyester, and TENCEL™ (a lyocell fabric made by Lenzing). Regarding packaging, they replaced all single-use plastics with FSC-certified and 100% recycled paper. Lastly, they have B Corporation and Climate Neutral certifications. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Tentree enforces fair labor practices by collaborating only with manufacturers and suppliers that guarantee a safe and respectful environment for their employees. They regularly audit their partner facilities to ensure compliance with their Code of Conduct and international labor standards. Part of their supply chains is certified by organizations that protect workers, such as Fair Wear Foundation, Global Organic Textile Standard, Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit, and Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production – WRAP. Additionally, Tentree commits to protecting forests through their paper, packaging, and fabric choices. 

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Giving back is a cornerstone of Tentree’s mission. Tentree plants 10 trees worldwide for every item purchased, contributing to reforestation and combating climate change. In 2022 alone, their customers helped plant over 22 million trees across nine countries, restoring over 2,000 hectares of terrestrial forests, over 1,000 hectares of coastal mangrove forests, and hundreds of hectares of marine land

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: kidswear, menswear, womenswear
  • Product range: T-shirts, tank tops, shirts, sweaters, cardigans, dresses, pants, hoodies, dresses, shorts, skirts, joggers, jackets, coats, underwear
  • Price range: $$
  • Size range: XXS–XXL
3

Neu Nomads: An Ethic-First Brand With a Commitment to Sustainability and Traceability 

Logo for Neu Nomads
Screenshot of the Neu Nomads front page

We always consider how to create something beautiful with the lowest possible impact on the world.”

Karen Wood, founder of Neu Nomads

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Neu Nomads prioritizes sustainability by opting for eco-friendly materials, using renewable energy in its supply chain, and reducing waste with a platform to resell and reuse pre-loved clothes. Their biodegradable, plant-based fabrics include lyocell, certified organic cotton, and TENCEL™ (lyocell fabrics produced by Lenzing). Their factory in India is powered by solar energy, with all the excess energy directed back to the local community. Water used for dying fabrics is captured, purified, and processed using non-toxic and AZO-free dyes. Nearly 90% of the water used during dyeing is recycled in a common effluent treatment plant. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Neu Nomads ensures their ethics through fair labor practices and transparent supply chains. They also make regular inspection visits to their suppliers. 85% of their garments are produced in a family-owned factory in Delhi that maintains healthy working conditions, healthcare benefits, and compensation far above the living wage.

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Neu Nomads is not known to be part of any giving-back programs.

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: luxurious essential clothing items for female modern travelers 
  • Product range: shirts, scarves, dresses, pants, jackets, blazers, knitwear, tops, blouses, T-shirts, lingerie
  • Price range: $$$
  • Size range: XXS–XXL
4

People Tree: The Pioneer to Fair Trade Fashion 

Logo for People Tree
Screenshot of the People Tree front page

We build awareness to empower customers and producers to participate in Fair Trade and environmentally sustainable solutions.”

People Tree

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

People Tree ensures sustainability by opting for low-impact materials, processes, and techniques. They only use natural fabrics made with low-impact fibers such as lyocell and GOTS-certified organic cotton or semi-natural/ semi-synthetic fabrics that follow closed-loop processes (such as TENCEL™ lyocell). The brand uses low-waste cutting techniques to maximize fabric use. Furthermore, their packaging is recyclable

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

People Tree puts fair trade and ethical production practices at the core of the brand. They are a pioneer of fair trade fashion, guaranteeing better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the Global South. They are also a member of the World Fair Trade Organization, which works on the 10 Principles of Fair Trade, including opportunities for disadvantaged producers and a commitment to no child labor or forced labor. 

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

People Tree is actively involved in initiatives to improve access to education for adults and children in the most vulnerable communities and programs that support people with disabilities and disadvantages. They also campaign for fair trade, sustainability, and social justice. 

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear
  • Product range: skirts, dresses, pants, tops, blouses, jumpsuits, socks, underwear
  • Price range: $$
  • Size range: S–XL
5

Whimsy + Row: Reducing Eco-Footprint With Every Step of the Process

Logo for Whimsyandrow
Screenshot of the Whimsy + Row front page

 “Growing and being a good company.”

Rachel Temko, founder of Whimsy + Row

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Whimsy + Row prioritizes sustainability by opting for low-impact materials like certified organic cotton, TENCEL™ lyocell, and deadstock/upcycled fabrics. Their clothes are made with low-impact dyes and recycled water. Furthermore, they reduce waste through their small-batch production of long-lasting products and efforts to close the loop to reach zero waste. The final stages of manufacturing are done locally to reduce the transportation footprint. They further offset their carbon emission with the Carbon Fund. Lastly, Whimsy + Row is carbon neutral

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Whimsy + Row clothing is made within a few miles of their office, enabling weekly factory visits. The brand also ensures that fair wages are given and that workers are treated fairly.

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Whimsy + Row actively participates in giving-back programs that support environmental causes and community initiatives. Specifically, they donate money to organizations like One Tree Planted, People Tree, Global Fund for Women, Black Lives Matter, Reclaim the Block, Black Vision Collective, Downtown Women’s Health Center, and Feeding America. Once a month, their employees also donate their time to community work, such as cleaning the beach or planting trees. 

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear with eco-friendly, contemporary designs 
  • Product range: skirts, denim, dresses, pants, tops, blouses, shorts, lingerie, plus-size 
  • Price range: $$$
  • Size range: XS–3XL
6

Toad&Co: Made-to-Order Clothes Using Highly Sustainable Materials 

Logo for Toad&Co
Screenshot of the Toad&Co front page

Our commitment to a cleaner way of living and doing business has made us stronger and, like any good relationship, we take every day as it comes.

Toad&Co

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Toad&Co promotes sustainability by sourcing eco-friendly materials, reducing carbon footprints, supporting textile circularity, and joining the responsible packaging movement. 100% of Toad&Co clothing is made with a minimum of 80% sustainable fibers and/or fabrics that have met Earth-friendly standards in accordance with Bluesign or Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX®. They use organic cotton, recycled fabrics, hemp, and TENCEL™ (Lenzing-made lyocell). Furthermore, they purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for all Toad&Co locations to offset their energy use by supporting the development of emission-free renewable energy and carbon reduction projects. The ToadAgain platform enables reselling and buying pre-loved items to reduce waste and extend the lifespan of clothing items. Additionally, Toad&Co provides resources for consumers to mend and extend the usage of their clothes. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Toad&Co is committed to promoting fair labor practices and safe working conditions in all factories in their supply chain. Their manufacturers are held to Toad&Co’s Workplace Code of Conduct to provide employees with a sustainable work environment. Their Code of Conduct follows the ILO Four Fundamental Freedoms principles. They also visit vendors’ facilities on a yearly basis to ensure that their clothes are produced with integrity. In 2010, Toad&Co was named one of Outside Magazine’s best places to work

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

At the very beginning of their journey, Toad&Co co-founded Planet Access Company, which employs adults with disabilities, fostering inclusivity and diversity in the workforce. Additionally, they run programs that support people with disabilities to make art and enjoy outdoor adventures. They also give 1% of all sales to environmental causes via 1% for the Planet membership. In the last 20 years, they have helped fund 120 environmental protection organizations

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: menswear, womenswear
  • Product range: shirts, sweaters, dresses, pants, maternity wear, T-shirts, shorts, underwear
  • Price range: $$ 
  • Size range: XS–XL
7

Encircled: Minimalist Clothing Essentials Made Without Compromising Style, Comfort, or the Planet 

Logo for Encircled
Screenshot of the Encircled front page

Ethically made from the finest, most soft and flattering eco-friendly fabrics, our collection is designed with intention, flexibility and exceptional fit at its heart.

Kristi Soomer, Founder of Encircled 

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Encircled prioritizes sustainability through minimizing waste and maximizing options. They are vigilant about closing gaps in the supply chains and the life of each piece of clothing. Their sewing studios upcycle all scrap fabrics into accessories, putting them up for quarterly sales. Encircled Renewed Threads is a platform where you can find pre-loved items. It is also possible to buy, sell, or trade Encircled clothes on their Facebook community page. Other environmental incentives include using green energy to power their office and host their website, FSC-certified and eco-friendly paper and cleaning products, and 100% recyclable packaging. Encircled manufactures their products locally and spends at least 50% of their non-labor expenses at local independent suppliers to reduce their carbon footprint. They are also a B Corporation

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Encircled puts ethics at the core of their operations. Their final stage of production is undertaken in Canada, a low-risk country for labor abuse. They uphold each factory in their supply chain to an Ethical Code of Conduct checklist, exceeding what the law requires. Encircled also visits their international suppliers regularly. Lastly, they advocate continuously for diversity and inclusion

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Encircled is not known to be part of any giving-back programs. 

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear
  • Product range: skirts, dresses, pants, jackets, blazers, knitwear, tops, blouses, T-shirts, stockings, tights, jumpsuits, playsuits, accessories, plus-size 
  • Price range: $$$ 
  • Size range: XS–XXL
8

Organic Basics: A Carbon Neutral Brand Creating Underwear, Activewear, and Everyday Essentials

Logo for Organic Basics
Screenshot of the Organic Basics front page

We make our basics to be both Earth- and people-friendly — carefully choosing materials and fabrics that care for our environment, only partnering with factories that consider their impact too, and designing all the basics for all bodies.

Organic Basics

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Organic Basics promotes sustainability by choosing fabrics based on their environmental footprint and lifetime durability. Their clothes are made exclusively with natural fabrics (organic cotton certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard), low-impact textiles (TENCEL™ lyocell certified by the STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®), or recycled materials (recycled nylon certified by the Global Recycling Standard). They use a small percentage of elastane in some garments to extend the products’ longevity, which ultimately extends the lifespan. Organic Basics is fully transparent about the impact of their products, enabling consumers to understand their share in using the clothes. Organic Basics partners with Made2Flow, which calculates their emissions, and One Carbon World, which helps them reduce and offset all their emissions. Finally, they are also a B Corporation

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Organic Basics works only with trusted, certified factory partners, who ensure that their workplace is free of child labor and forced labor and that their workers enjoy a safe working space, earn a living wage, and benefit from employee perks like free lunches and childcare. They show full transparency of the location and practices in their factories. Organic Basics also audits or visits most of their suppliers

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Organic Basics donates 1% of the value of all orders to sustainable projects. Their partnership with Beam Impact enables consumers to choose where their 1% donation will go, at no extra cost to the consumers, to support local charities that help Nature Conservation, Ocean Conservation, Rewilding, or Sustainability & Gender Equity.

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear, menswear
  • Product range: underwear, bras, bottoms, T-shirts, tops, sweatshirts, hoodies, knitwear dresses, swimwear, socks, plus-size
  • Price range: $$$
  • Size range: XXS–XXL
9

Mother of Pearl: A Sustainable and Wearable Fashion Brand 

Logo for Mother of Pearl
Screenshot of the Mother of Pearl front page

From our sustainable and ethical supply chain through to pre-loved solutions, every stage of our garment’s life is considered.

Mother of Pearl 

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Mother of Pearl ensures sustainability by sourcing low-impact natural materials, promoting circularity, and reducing carbon footprints. They use a high proportion of eco-friendly, nature-based fibers, such as organic cotton, TENCEL™ lyocell fibers, and responsible wool. Furthermore, they commit to repairing garments bought and used by their customers via their partnership with SOJO, reusing leftover deadstock to Fabric Reimagined items, and enabling the reselling of pre-loved vintage clothing on Curate & Rotate or via regular sample sale drops. Finally, Mother of Pearl minimizes the geographical spread of the supply chain to reduce their transporting carbon footprint. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Mother of Pearl commits to traceability throughout their entire supply chain beyond the final garment production. Most of their factories are based in Europe, being upheld to relatively high standards of safe working conditions. They request audits from all factories regularly

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Mother of Pearl is not known to be part of any giving-back programs. 

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear
  • Product range: dresses, knitwear, jackets, coats, sweatshirts, denim, tops, shirts, T-shirts, skirts, pants
  • Price range: $$$
  • Size range: XS–XL
10

Groceries Apparel: Clothes Using Non-Toxic Dyes 

Logo for Groceries
Screenshot of the Groceries Apparel front page

We lead a new generation of clothing brands that manufacture their own garments in full transparency.

Groceries Apparel 

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Groceries Apparel prioritizes sustainability by sourcing organic and non-toxic materials. They have completely eliminated heavy metals and toxic chemicals from their supply chain. All their clothes are dyed with plant-based dyestuff, including food waste such as onion skins, carrot tops, and avocado pits and skins. Groceries Apparel uses a high proportion of lower-impact fabrics, including GOTS-certified organic cotton and TENCEL™ sourced from sustainably harvested trees. Their entire manufacturing process, from design, digitizing, marking, cutting, sewing, and dyeing, to finishing and shipping, happens in their Los Angeles-based clothing factory, reducing transportation emissions. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Groceries Apparel is fully transparent about their Los Angeles factory, ensuring fair wages and good working conditions. They also trace most of their supply

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Groceries Apparel is not known to be part of any giving-back programs. 

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear, menswear, kidswear
  • Product range: T-shirts, tops, blouses, dresses, shorts, skirts, stockings, tights, underwear
  • Price range: $$ 
  • Size range: XS–XL

Lyocell Fabrics: Durable, Breathable Materials From Plants 

Lyocell fabrics are semi-natural/semi-synthetic fabrics made with plant materials. TENCEL™ and Monocel are two examples of lyocell fabrics made in closed-loop processes where almost all chemicals are recovered and reused. 

Here are the life-cycle stages of lyocell fabrics and each stage’s sustainability assessment:

  • Sourcing plant materials for lyocell fabrics: Eucalyptus is the most commonly used feedstock for lyocell fabrics. As they grow, eucalyptus trees sequester carbon, mitigating the climate crisis. Eucalyptus species are highly adaptive and can grow rapidly with little irrigation or agrochemicals. 
  • Manufacturing of lyocell fabrics: The organic dissolvent solution used in manufacturing lyocell fabrics can be recycled almost fully, with an inconsiderable percentage discharged as non-hazardous liquid waste. The manufacturing process of lyocell fabrics uses a lot of energy. However, part of the energy can be recovered in integrated production
  • Transportation of lyocell fabrics: Lyocell fabrics typically travel from forests to factories, then sorting centers, shops, and consumers’ houses before going to recycling centers or landfills. The GHG emissions associated with transporting vehicles can also be significant. 
  • Usage of lyocell fabrics: Lyocell fabrics are breathable. They don’t need to be washed too frequently, saving water and energy. Lyocell fibers are very strong—strong enough even for conveyor belts. This means lyocell fabrics can last for a long time before a replacement is needed, making them more sustainable. 
  • End-of-life of lyocell fabrics: The end-of-life stage for lyocell is sustainable because the fiber is biodegradable and compostable. 

Lyocell fabrics are largely sustainable because they are derived from fast-growing, adaptive plants. They are breathable, durable, and biodegradable—three tell-tale signs of textile sustainability.

Why Is It Important to Buy Products Made of More Sustainable Fabrics

It is important to buy products made from more sustainable fabrics because a sustainable textile industry has a lower carbon footprint, helps save natural resources, and is better for forests, animals, and humans alike. 

Buying Sustainable Fabrics Reduces Your Carbon Footprint 

The production of clothing and footwear is estimated to contribute 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions—more than all international flights and shipping combined. If the fashion industry were a country, it would be the fourth largest emitter of carbon dioxide

One way to reduce the carbon footprint of the clothes you buy is to opt for sustainable fabrics. Sustainable fabrics, which are often made with natural or recycled fibers, have relatively low carbon footprints compared to petroleum-based fabrics. For example, organic cotton made in the US has a carbon footprint of 2.35 kg CO2 (per ton of spun fiber)—a quarter of polyester’s carbon footprint. 

Buying Sustainable Fabrics Reduces Demand for Natural Resources and Waste Management

The textile industry uses water and land to grow cotton and other fibers. It is estimated that 79 billion cubic meters of water were used for the sector worldwide in 2015. For example, producing a single cotton T-shirt requires as much water as one person drinks for 2.5 years (2,700 liters of fresh water).

Worse yet, the textile economy is vastly more linear than circular: the largest amount of resources used in clothes ended up in landfills (instead of being recycled to remake clothes). According to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation,

  • Less than 3% of materials used in the textile economy in 2015 came from recycled sources.
  • In other words, more than 97% of resources used in making clothes are newly extracted. 

When clothing items are disposed of within a short period of time—under a year in the case of half of the fast fashion clothes—the natural systems that provide raw materials for fabrics don’t have enough time to recover and regenerate, which could lead to ecological breakdown. 

Sustainable fabrics are made with less water and emissions while lasting longer:

  • Because they are durable, you don’t need to buy new clothes too often. 
  • Thus, you help reduce the pressure to extract more resources for making new items. 

Similarly, making and consuming sustainable fabrics made with recycled materials reduces the demand for virgin materials while helping tackle waste management. 

Buying Sustainable Fabrics Encourages Sustainable Management of Forests

Sustainable plant-based fabrics are made with raw materials from forests and plantations that are sustainably managed, such as complying with FSC standards

When you buy sustainable plant-based fabrics, you discourage unsustainable forestry practices like illegal logging. You can help reduce deforestation, biodiversity loss, and the effects of climate change. 

Buying Sustainable Fabrics Encourages Fairer Treatment of Animals 

The fashion industry is rife with animal mistreatment when it comes to making animal-based fabrics like wool or silk. Every year, billions of animals suffer and die for clothing and accessories.

Buying sustainable vegan alternatives can help to reduce the pressure on raising more and more animals to meet the demand for animal-based fabrics while sacrificing their well-being and lives. 

Suppose you have to buy fabrics made with, for example, wool or silk; make sure you only choose brands committed to cruelty-free products. In that case, you help advocate better treatments for animals raised within the textile industry. 

Using Sustainable Fabrics Encourages Fairer Treatment of Textile Workers 

Recent statistics from UNICEF estimated as many as 170 million child laborers worldwide, many of whom were engaged in some form of work in the textile industry. They don’t get paid minimum wages and often work long hours. 

When you buy sustainable fabrics from brands transparent about the working conditions at their factories, you discourage the use of child labor and help promote better working conditions for textile workers.

How Can You Generally Buy More Sustainable Fabrics

The key to sustainably buying fabrics is to check on relevant environmental and original certifications. 

For natural fabrics

  • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): A globally recognized certification system that ensures a certain threshold of organic content has been met. It covers manufacturing, packaging, labeling, transportation, and distribution (but not what happens in the fields where crops are grown). 
  • USDA Certified Biobased Product: The USDA BioPreferred® Certification is a voluntary certification offered by the United States Department of Agriculture. The certification identifies products made from plants or other renewable materials.
  • Ecolabel: Ecolabel is the official European Union voluntary label recognized worldwide for certified products with a guaranteed, independently verified low environmental impact. The label requires high environmental standards throughout the entire life-cycle: from raw material extraction through production and distribution to disposal. It also encourages companies to develop innovative, durable, easy-to-repair, and recyclable products. 

For plant-based semi-natural/semi-synthetic fabrics:

  • Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification: PEFC’s approaches to sustainable forest management are in line with protecting the forests globally and locally and making the certificate work for everyone. Getting a PEFC certification is strict enough to ensure the sustainable management of a forest is socially just, ecologically sound, and economically viable but attainable not only by big but small forest owners.

For recycled fabrics:

  • Recycled Claim Standard (RCS): The Textile Exchange RCS was originally developed as an international, voluntary standard that sets requirements for third-party certification of Recycled input and chain of custody. 
  • The Global Recycled Standard (GRS): The Global Recycled Standard (GRS) is an international, voluntary, full product standard that sets requirements for third-party certification of Recycled Content, chain of custody, social and environmental practices, and chemical restrictions. It can be used for any product with more than 20% recycled material.

For all types of fabrics:

  • STeP by OEKO-TEX®: STeP by OEKO-TEX® is an independent certification system for brands, retailers, and manufacturers from the textile and leather industry. It communicates organizational environmental measures, including reducing carbon footprint and water usage.
  • OEKO-TEX® Standard 100: OEKO-TEX® labels aim to ensure that products pose no risk to human health (i.e. containing banned chemicals). 

Some certifications that are signaling brands’ efforts toward lowered environmental impacts and a circular economy are: 

  • B Corp Certification: The label B Corp is a certification reserved for for-profit companies. Certified holders are assessed on their social and environmental impacts. 
  • Cradle2Cradle certification: Cradle2Cradle provides a standardized approach to material circularity. It assesses whether products have been suitably designed and made with the circular economy in mind covering five critical categories: material health, material reuse, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness.

Final Thoughts

Lyocell is a durable textile material made with plant-based fibers. TENCELTM lyocell is an especially eco-friendly fabric produced in a closed loop where more than 99% of chemicals are reused. 

By purchasing new or pre-loved lyocell clothes from brands that commit to sustainability, you support their mission to create a fairer and less harmful textile industry for all lives on Earth. 

Here is the list (again) of the most sustainable lyocell clothing brands: 

  • MATE the Label
  • TenTree 
  • Neu Nomads 
  • People Tree
  • Whimsy + Row 
  • Toad & Co
  • Encircled
  • Organic Basics 
  • Mother of Pearl 
  • Groceries Apparel

To make your use of these fabrics even more sustainable, follow these steps:

  1. Buy second-hand, recycled, or upcycled clothes made with lyocell clothes.
  2. While using lyocell clothes, maximize the number of wears between washes and keep them as long as possible.
  3. At the end-of-life of your lyocell clothes, upcycle the materials to extend their usage and arrange for them to be recycled or properly disposed of.

Stay impactful,



Sources

Photo of author
Did you like this article?

Get the 5-minute newsletter that makes reading impactful news enjoyable—packed with actionable insights to make a positive impact in your daily life.

Newsletter Form - After Content

Three Related Posts

One Unrelated Post

Illustration of our Impactful Ninja logo, holding up a newsletter with a green heart
Become more impactful, one email at a time
Get the 5-minute newsletter that makes reading impactful news enjoyable—packed with actionable insights to make a positive impact in your daily life.
Illustration of our Impactful Ninja logo, which is a ninja holding a green heart and has a light-green outline here
Become more impactful, one email at a time
Get the 5-minute newsletter that makes reading impactful news enjoyable—packed with actionable insights to make a positive impact in your daily life.