12 Most Sustainable Plant-Based Clothing Brands: The Conscious Consumer’s Guide

12 Most Sustainable Plant-Based Clothing Brands: The Conscious Consumer’s Guide

By
Quynh Nguyen

Read Time:35 Minutes

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Amid growing concerns about the environmental impact of the textile industry, the spotlight is shifting toward plant-based fibers as eco-friendly materials for making clothing. Fabrics made with plant cellulose, such as linen, hemp, and kapok, have garnered much attention for their sustainability attributes. But are all plant-based fabrics equally sustainable, or are some potentially a bit greenwashed? So, we had to ask: Which are the most sustainable plant-based clothing brands?

The most sustainable plant-based clothing brands include Patagonia, MATE the Label, and NATASHA TONIC, which use low-impact plant-based fibers, employ full traceability, and strive for textile circularity. In addition, Tentree and ARMEDANGELS commit to lowering carbon emissions and chemical usage. 

Whether you are searching for a plant-based top or some comfortable underwear made with plant fibers 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 plant-based clothing brands and how they ensure sustainable, ethical practices. 

Here’s How Sustainable Plant-Based Fibers Generally Are

Plant-based fibers are generally renewable and biodegradable (unlike synthetic fibers derived from fossil fuels). However, conventional farming of certain fiber crops, such as cotton, can have such significant adverse environmental impacts that they reduce the overall sustainability of the fabrics. Additionally, some plant-based fibers, particularly viscose in the group of regenerated cellulose fibers, are made in chemical-intensive processes and, therefore, are generally unsustainable. The Common Objective’s Made-By Environmental Benchmark for Fibres ranks plant-based fibers in a wide range, from class E, the least sustainable fiber class, to class A—the most sustainable fiber class.

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 plant-based fibers, 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 plant-based fibers!

What makes sustainable plant-based fibers: Plant-based fibers from organic farms, such as organic cotton, organic hemp, and organic linen, have the highest level of sustainability because they have the climate benefits from plant carbon sequestration while being grown and processed without toxic synthetic chemicals. It’s important to note that some fiber crops, such as hemp, linen, and ramie, are often grown in rainfed and agrochemical-free conditions and, therefore, are highly sustainable. 

Additionally: Lyocell is also considered a sustainable plant-based fiber partly thanks to the carbon sequestration of eucalyptus trees, which provide plant materials for lyocell. Lyocell is also made in a closed-loop process, reusing almost all process solvents. 

Here’s How We Selected the Most Sustainable Plant-Based 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 12 Most Sustainable Plant-Based Clothing Brands

Overall, these plant-based 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

Patagonia: Everyday Wear for Those Who Care

Logo for Patagonia
Screenshot of the Patagonia front page

Together, we can prioritize purpose over profit and protect this wondrous planet, our only home.

Patagonia

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Patagonia puts sustainability at the center of their operation. They work to reduce, rather than simply offset, carbon emissions where it matters the most: in the supply chain and material manufacturing. They reduce their carbon footprint by removing high-impact virgin fossil-based fibers from their collections, using “Environmental Profit and Loss” to guide their production decision, and helping their suppliers to cut emissions. Patagonia’s fall 2023 collection is made up mostly of preferred materials (91% by fabric weight), including various plant-based fabrics: hemp, low-impact cotton (recycled cotton, regenerative organic cotton) and man-made cellulose fibers (lyocell, modal, and REFIBRA™, all made by Lenzing). On top of that, Patagonia’s Worn Wear program encourages customers to repair and recycle their products, extending the textile lifecycle and reducing waste. Lastly, Patagonia is certified as a B Corporation and a Bluesign® brand. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Patagonia commits to fair trade practices. Through the partnership with Fair Trade USA, they currently produce 86% of their clothes in 20 Fair Trade Certified™ factories. Patagonia pays a premium for every item produced in such factories, accumulating in a fund for workers to use in their chosen community projects, whether in healthcare or parent support or to withdraw as a cash bonus. Additionally, they have various social responsibility programs to prevent harm and create positive impacts on the lives of apparel workers in their supply chain. These include the Fair Labor Association, the Living Wage Program, the Migrant Workers Program, and the Responsible Purchasing Practices. Patagonia is also fully transparent about the locations of their facilities and suppliers. Regarding animal rights, Patagonia has developed the Patagonia Wool Standard, which uses the Responsible Wool Standard as a foundation but goes beyond it in several key areas of animal welfare practices.

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Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Since 1985, Patagonia has pledged 1% of sales annually to environmental causes. They have awarded over $89 million in cash and in-kind donations to domestic and international grassroots environmental groups, making a difference in their local communities. In 2022, the founder of Patagonia gave away his family’s ownership of the company to the newly created Patagonia Purpose Trust and the not-for-profit organization Holdfast Collective, ensuring that all future profits from the company are used to fight the climate and extinction crisis

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: kidswear, menswear, womenswear 
  • Product range: shirts, pants, jackets, blazers, hoodies, sweatshirts, T-shirts, shorts, plus-size
  • Price range: $$$ 
  • Size range: XXS–XXXL
2

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 fibers, reducing carbon footprints, and recycling. Specifically, they opt for yarns based on plant fibers, including linen, hemp, and climate-beneficial cotton. Furthermore, they use non-toxic dyes to color their apparel. Regarding their carbon footprint, MATE the Label manufactures 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 also 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 to 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, sweatshirts, maternity wear, blouses, T-shirts, jumpsuits, underwear
  • Price range: $$
  • Size range: XS–XL
3

NATASHA TONIC: Making Plant-Based Swimwear to Reduce Microplastic Pollution 

Logo for NATASHA TONIC
Screenshot of the Natasha Tonic front page

We make everything locally in small batches to make sure we don’t have a negative impact on the environment.”

NATASHA TONIC 

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

NATASHA TONIC prioritizes sustainability through eco-friendly materials, low-impact processes, and low-footprint practices. They source a high proportion of sustainable plant-based fibers for their swimwear. Their fabric is a blend of mostly plant fibers (hemp and organic cotton) and a small percentage (4%) of spandex (Lycra®). They also use only low-impact, non-toxic dyes that contain soluble natural components and no heavy metals. Further down the life-cycle in the manufacturing stage, NATASHA TONIC lowers their environmental impacts by applying on-site heat reclamation, on-site water filtration, and no-salt-added dye baths in their dyeing processes. They also use biopolishing in their finishing treatments. Additionally, they reduce their transporting carbon footprint by purchasing fabrics locally in the US and using electric vehicles for delivering between suppliers and studios. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

NATASHA TONIC puts protecting workers and nature at the core of their operations. As such, they trace most of their supply chain, including all of the final and second stages of production. Their second stage of production is audited by the Fair Wear Foundation. Workers at their US factory are all paid according to California standards. NATASHA TONIC protects nature by eliminating contaminants in surface runoff to maintain the surface and groundwater quality and replacing insecticides with natural pest-controlling methods

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

NATASHA TONIC donates 5% of every swimsuit sold to 5 Gyres to support fighting plastic and microfibre pollution. Additionally, they contribute to the cause of social movements, including Tree People, Black Lives Matter, and Downtown Women’s Center. 

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear
  • Product range: swimwear, tops, blouses, bodysuits, lingerie
  • Price range: $$$ 
  • Size range: XS–XL
4

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 based on plant fibers, including organic cotton, hemp, and TENCEL™ Lyocell. Regarding packaging, they replaced all single-use plastics with FSC-certified and 100% recycled paper. Finally, 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
5

ARMEDANGELS: Sustainable Clothing Brand Plus an Agent of Lifestyle Change 

Logo for Armedangels
Screenshot of the Armedangels front page

“So starting out with the humble tee, we took our oath against wage slavery, chemical shortcuts, and mass-producing pure crap, and transformed ourselves into one of the first clothing brands in all the land to put people and planet first.”

ARMEDANGELS 

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

ARMEDANGELS ensures sustainability by reducing carbon footprints while enabling people to change lifestyles to fight climate change. The brand innovates to cut down carbon emissions in their supply chain, starting with sourcing a high proportion of eco-friendly materials. Specifically, they use plant-based fabrics (GOTS-certified organic cotton fabrics and FSC/PEFC-certified wood-based fabrics). Additionally, ARMEDANGELS chooses materials with the lowest carbon footprint possible, for example, opting for modal and lyocell over silk or natural fabrics over fossil-based synthetic fabrics while increasing recycled content, such as recycled wool and recycled cotton. For example, within a year, the share of recycled cotton in their DetoxDenim jeans increased from 5% to 37%, with some jeans in the collection containing 100% recycled cotton certified by the Global Recycling Standard. Lastly, ARMEDANGELS’s efforts to encourage lifestyle change include care and repair guides to keep garments longer in circulation. They also have a resale platform that facilitates traded-in to be sold again as second-hand clothes or recycled as fibers for new clothes. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

ARMEDANGELS ensures their ethics by only working with trusted partners to deliver decent wages and workers’ safety. They directly and actively monitor all their suppliers and the suppliers’ nominated subcontractors via on-site and online Internal Due Diligence Check and Self-Assessment, external audits by Fair Wear Foundation (FWF), Global Organic Textile Standard and third-party audits, continuous support, and tailored training programs by third parties. ARMEDANGELS ensures payment of a living wage in part of their supply chain and pays a markup where they notice wage issues via the living wage project. Most importantly, they are fully transparent about the journey from raw material to their products, especially where people and animals are involved, and the impacts of their actions

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

ARMEDANGELS raises funds by donating part of their sales to support various organizations and campaigns. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have raised €745.800 ($790,883.61 USD) for Doctors Without Borders, facilitating isolation wards, COVID-19 clinics, and protective clothing for medical professionals worldwide. Other fundraising projects include supporting the climate movement with German Zero and the Climate Emergency Fund, fighting for equality with UN Women, advocating for fair payment and safe working conditions for Bangladeshi garment workers with the National Garment Workers Federation, and rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean Sea with Sea-Watch

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: kidswear, menswear
  • Product range: denim jeans, jackets, jumpsuits, shorts, skirts, T-shirts
  • Price range: $$
  • Size range: XS–XXL
6

Mara Hoffman: Womenswear Brand Promoting Mindful Fashion Habits

Logo for Mara Hoffman
Screenshot of the Mara Hoffman front page

As a team, we remain committed to reducing our footprint on the planet by extending the life of each garment, contributing to the regeneration of the environment, and advocating for the communities least responsible for, yet most impacted by, climate change.”

Mara Hoffman 

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Mara Hoffman’s sustainability efforts focus on responsible materials, low-impact manufacturing practices, and mindful fashion habits. When sourcing for their designs, they prioritize natural, recycled, and organic materials over virgin synthetic fabrics while opting out of fur, leather, and feathers. Specifically, they use various eco-friendly plant-based fabrics, including low-impact cotton (organic, recycled, or regenerative), linen, hemp, and wood-based fibers from top-ranking man-made fiber producers on Canopy’s Hot Button Report, Lenzing and Birla Cellulose. Additionally, their packaging is free from plastics and uses natural materials that can be easily recycled. Since 2019, they have transitioned into 100% recycled paper mailers for small shipments. Regarding the manufacturing stage, Mara Hoffman aims to minimize waste and energy usage wherever possible. For example, they choose digital printing to reduce fabric waste and water waste. Lastly, they encourage mindful fashion habits such as “Wear More, Wash Less“, repairing, and repurposing to keep garments lasting a long time while reducing the climate impact. They also have a platform, Full Circle Marketplace, where you can buy and sell pre-owned Mara Hoffman garments. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Mara Hoffman works with Fair Trade Certified™ products and factories to ensure workers receive premium work payment. Additionally, they regularly conduct in-person factory visits. They also support the growth of smaller factories with incentives like sponsoring website development and delivering training programs on transparent record-keeping. For transparency, they publish the list of the Tier 1 factories where the last stage of production happens. 

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

As Mara Hoffman has shifted toward sustainability, they have increased contributions to and participation in social justice movements. They give back in various ways, including sponsoring, fundraising, and mentoring, in partnership with many organizations working toward social justice and sustainability. The list includes Black in Fashion Council, CanopyStyle, Equality Now, Woman March, and Sweet Freedom Farm

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear
  • Product range: dresses, tops, blouses, pants, skirts, swimwear, jumpsuits, playsuits, bodysuits, plus size
  • Price range: $$$ 
  • Size range: XS–XXXL
7

WAMA: The Pioneer in Underwear Made in Plant-Based from Hemp Plants

Logo for WAMA
Screenshot of the WAMA front page

“We believe hemp is the answer to cut down on pollution and save nature.”

Shakib Nassiri, founder of WAMA

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

WAMA ensures sustainability by creating low-impact fabrics based on the plant-based fibers from organically grown hemp plants, in consideration of the crop’s high carbon sequestration potential and low inputs. Their materials are organic and contain no excess harmful toxins. On top of that, their supply chain includes family-run organic farms, where hemp fibers are extracted using only water and dew—the most sustainable retting method—as well as an organic hemp spinner, an OEKO-TEX®-certified factory where their hemp-based fabrics are finished using low-impact dyes, and other factories complying with the BSCI system. WAMA undies are delivered in custom boxes made from 100% recycled materials, recycled poly mailers, and naturally biodegradable tissue paper

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

WAMA ensures their ethics through full transparency about their supply chain. Their facilities are upheld by their supplier code of conduct, which covers all of the ILO Four Fundamental Freedoms principles, ensuring opportunities for safe work, economic development, and sustainable business. The factories where their products are sewn are BSCI certified, which means safe workplace standards for all employees. Finally, WAMA is a Green America Certified Business and a PETA-Approved Vegan brand. 

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

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

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear, menswear
  • Product range: underwear, bralettes, plus-size
  • Price range: $$
  • Size range: XS–XXXL
8

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 plant fibers such as linen and GOTS-certified organic cotton or TENCEL™ lyocell. The brand uses low-waste cutting techniques to maximize fabric use. 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 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
9

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 their supply chain, and reducing waste with a platform to resell and reuse pre-loved clothes. Their biodegradable, plant-based fabrics include linen, 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
10

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. Lastly, they prioritize plant-based fabrics, such as linen, organic cotton, TENCEL™ Lyocell, TENCEL™ Modal, and bamboo rayon

🌐

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

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, especially plant-based fabrics like modal and lyocell trademarked by Lenzing, certified organic cotton, and linen. 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. 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 ensures that fair wages are given and that workers are being 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
12

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, hemp, lyocell, and modal. 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 covers four of the ILO’s 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 arts 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 to 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

Plant-Based Fabrics: Breathable Materials That Are Biodegrade at the End Of Their Life 

Plant-based fabrics are generally more breathable than synthetic fabrics, saving water and energy for washing and drying during the usage stage. Plant-based fibers are usually biodegradable and compostable, enabling various end-of-life options. 

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

  • Sourcing plant-based fibers from farms: Sourcing conventional cotton fibers—the most commonly sourced after plant-based fibers—is unsustainable. The cotton crop is water-thirsty and pesticide-dependent. Also, the widespread monoculture in cotton cultivation depletes the soil and necessitates synthetic fertilizer in many growing regions. However, the sourcing stage of plant-based fabrics can be sustainable when raw materials are obtained from organic farming systems. Additionally, many fiber crops, including linen, hemp, and jute, require little input to provide a high fiber yield while having a strong carbon sequestration potential. 
  • Manufacturing of plant-based clothing: The sustainability of manufacturing plant-based fiber clothing varies. Producing natural fabrics from some plant-based fibers, such as linen, hemp, and kapok, can be sustainable, mainly because it can be done mechanically without adding toxic chemicals. On the other hand, manufacturing semi-natural/semi-synthetic fabrics based on plant fibers (lyocell, modal, viscose) can be energy and chemical-intensive. This can have serious knock-on ecological impacts, especially if fossil fuels are the main energy sources at the manufacturing locations. Integrated and closed-loop manufacturing processes can, however, recover part of the energy during production while optimizing materials.
  • Transportation of plant-based clothing: Transporting plant-based clothing is generally unsustainable. It can be a carbon-intensive life-cycle stage for clothing and household items made with plant-based fibers due to the distances covered and emissions associated with transporting vehicles. Plant-based fabrics typically travel from fields (where plants grow) to factories, then sorting centers, shops, and consumers’ homes before going to recycling centers or landfills. 
  • Usage of plant-based clothing: Using plant-based clothing is generally sustainable. Plant-based fabrics are generally breathable. They don’t need to be washed frequently—much less often than synthetic fabrics—thus saving water and energy. Most commonly used plant-based fibers are strong, meaning materials made with those fibers can last long before a replacement is needed. Lastly, washing natural fabrics doesn’t cause microplastics to be released into the environment. 
  • End-of-life of plant-based clothing: The end-of-life stage for plant-based fabric is generally sustainable because this material tends to be biodegradable and compostable. 

Some varieties of plant-based fibers, including linen, hemp, and lyocell, are among the most sustainable textile materials. They are durable and biodegradable materials. Fiber crops sequester carbon, helping to mitigate the climate crisis. 

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

Plant-based fabrics are on a spectrum from unsustainable to sustainable, largely depending on the farming systems in which the plants are cultivated and the use of energy and chemicals during manufacturing. Plant-based fibers have the climate benefits from plants’ carbon sequestration. Additionally, some plant-based fibers, such as linen and hemp, are wonderful textile materials with exceptional strength and breathability. 

By purchasing new or pre-loved plant-based 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 plant-based fiber clothing brands: 

  • Patagonia 
  • MATE the Label
  • NATASHA TONIC
  • Tentree 
  • ARMEDANGELS
  • Mara Hoffman
  • WAMA
  • People Tree
  • Neu Nomads 
  • Encircled
  • Whimsy + Row
  • Toad&Co

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

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

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