Sustainable fabrics have finally made an impact on our global consciences. We’ve become increasingly aware of the importance of sustainably made fabrics. Manufacturers prefer using fabrics that will last, instead of fabrics we discard the moment a new trend hits the runway.

We know that everything we do impacts the environment. And we're aware of how important it is to protect our environment. Our aim is to preserve our planet for future generations.

People know that every time we don't think about the impact we are having on our planet, we create future setbacks. We also know that these setbacks will have a dramatic effect on the world in years to come.

Setbacks to avoid when choosing sustainable textiles

What setbacks are we talking about?

·      Pollution of microplastics

·      Greenhouse gas emissions 

·      Degradation of our soil

·      Destruction of rainforests

·      Water and energy consumption.

How we can play our part

Choosing sustainable fabrics for your business or home will ensure you have less impact on the world you live in. 

As fabric manufacturers and printers, we know the importance of choosing a sustainability in the way that fabric is  made and printed on.

Sustainable textile examples

We’ve discussed fabric sustainability many times, as these products have an important impact on our lives. Sustainable fabrics UK are ones that we manufacture in the UK in an environmentally friendly way.

We’re talking about natural plant-based fabrics, like cotton, linen, bamboo and flax. And we’re talking about growing those plants to make those fabrics without using pesticides and other toxic chemicals.

People are also concerned about the way factories manufacture these raw materials, because it's important to use less water and energy.

Environmentally friendly cloths are fabrics that we recycle. For instance, we make Recycled Polyester (rPET)( from recycled plastic bottles. We transform these bottles into material that we use to make fashion clothing, accessories and all sorts of products. 

Sustainable fabrics cover:

1.     How we manufacture the materials

2.     Where the materials come from

3.     The methods used to make these fabrics.

The downside of a sustainable fabric

These fabrics are more expensive 

It’s obvious. Textiles that we look after when we manufacture them will cost more than those that we make unsustainably. These non sustainable fabrics are cheap, poor quality and we often have them made using chemical processing. 

These materials don’t last

They are of poor quality and don’t withstand the test of time. That's what we mean when we talk about fashion and unsustainable fashion. We have recently made unsustainable fashion items to wear a few times, until the next trend hits Social Media, and no longer. Then we discard these fashion garments and they end up in landfills – which is extremely harmful to the planet.

The good news about sustainable textile suppliers

Yes, there is some good news. Sustainable fabric companies worldwide are using the latest technology to find make a whole range of innovative, sustainable fabrics. Some of these fabrics are natural ones, like bamboo and linen, whilst others are synthetic or a blend of natural and synthetic.

The quandary is to find ways to make textiles that are long-wearing and that don’t harm the planet. We need to make fabrics that we can give a second life to, so that they don’t end up in landfills.

For more information on this important subject, read our comprehensive blog, Sustainable fabric UK businesses chooses for their business productright here.

Is this particular material eco-friendly or not?

You don’t have to guess which fabrics are environmentally friendly and which ones aren’t. Read the clothes label. It will explain what the fabric is, whether it's natural, safe for children and Fair Trade.

In the UK, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy sets the labelling standards for material. According to these laws, the labels have to include:

·      Fibre eco content.

·      Whether the textile meets BS-5722 (British certification for flammability) – vital for baby garments, kids clothes and sleepwear for kids and adults.

·      Country of origin and fabric care instructions – this is not mandatory.

·      There is a voluntary EU Ecolabel which identifies eco-friendly fabrics and footwear products in the EU. We manufacture these products without harmful substances and using less water. And the fabrics are colour fast when we wash them, rub them, expose them to light and/or wear them.

What makes fabrics unsustainable?

·    Non sustainable fabrics come about because of unsustainable farming or agriculture to grow the fibre

·    Production of the fabric involves deforestation and/or petroleum drilling

·    Manufacture, dyeing and printing involves the use of harmful substances and/or chemicals or bleach

·    Fabrics of poor quality that are discarded quickly and become textile waste.  Figures show that 1.75 million tonnes of fashion clothing and fabric waste is made in the UK every year. And 1.2 million tonnes of this amount of waste ends up in landfill.

Are you making the right sustainable fashion choices?

·       Organic or natural

·       Oeko-Tex

·       Fair Trade

·       GOTS

·       Recycled Polyester

·       Cotton

·       Biodegradable

 

Fabrics that have these labels include wool, TENCEL, sustainable cotton, recycled polyester, bamboo, hemp, soy cashmere/silk. You need to use caution when you wash these products.

Check these 2 sustainable fabrics before you buy them 

We can manufacture these 2 fabrics sustainably, but we don't always do this. So make sure you choose carefully before you buy them:

Cotton material type

Cotton is biodegradable as it’s a natural fabric. But production of regular cotton fabric requires a lot of water, chemicals and pesticides to manufacture.

As a result, they aren’t considered to be sustainable textiles. However, if it’s organic cotton, it's made using less water and fewer harmful substances. This is why sustainability and natural cotton fabrics are so highly sought-after: they are made and grown in an ethical and sustainable way.

You can find out everything you need to know about organic cotton right here.

Viscose

Viscose is semi synthethic. This is unlike cotton, which is a natural fabric. It’s a type of rayon fabric that we manufacture from wood pulp. The fabric is natural and vegan, and is popular as a substitute for expensive silk fabrics.

Remember, viscose has several guises – Lyocell, Modal, Refibra and Tencel are all viscose fabrics. We manufacture these fabrics using environmentally friendly wood pulp. One uses an environmentally friendly process to transform the pulp into material. It is different to the processes we use to make other viscose fabrics. 

Of these fabrics, Lyocell is the most sustainable, as every waste product of making this fabric is recycled. Lyocell is soft, breathable, lightweight and absorbent.

Viscose is biodegradable, while other synthetic fabrics like acrylic, nylon and polyester are not biodegradable .

10 eco-friendly fabrics and fibres 

1.   Cotton

Organic Cotton

This fabric is one of the most popular sustainable cloths. When we manufacture this type of cotton material, we don't use pesticides, synthetic fertilisers or chemicals. This is why this type of cloth is often used for people with sensitive skin. The cloth is also sustainable because we use  62% less energy and 88% less water when we manufacture it.

Drill

Natural cotton has numerous standards. These include GOTS and Fair Trade, which certifies that workers get fair pay. This is particularly important with fashion clothing which often ends up in landfills.

Recycled Cotton

We make Recycled Cotton from natural and previously used cotton material. 

It’s not as easy to get certification for this cotton fabric type as it is for organic cotton. You see, it’s difficult to prove whether the fabrics we use are 100% organic cotton or not. 

Check for Oeko-Tex® certification, which will show that the fibres in the fabric are not toxic, or full of chemicals. Also check for The Global Recycle Standard (GRS), a voluntary recycled standard. 

2.  Linen

We produce this extremely light, breathable, vegan cloth from the flax plant. Farmers grow linen without using any pesticides, fertilizer and excess water. This is why it’s suitable for every skin type. 

The flax plant doesn’t yield much in each crop. So, to make sufficient fabric, a farmer has to grow a lot of flax, and this works out to be very expensive. Linen is extremely environmentally friendly and GOTS certified.

3.  Recycled Polyester (rPET)

At maake, we use Recycled Polyester fabrics, because they are more environmentally friendly than regular polyester. We make Recycled Polyester from reused plastic bottles.

Lycra Range

A number of activewear manufacturers use Recycled Polyester in their brands. Make sure to check for GRSand Oeko-Tex® certification when choosing this material.

4.  ECONYL®

This synthetic microplastic fabric is a recycled fabric. We often use it to make swimwear, which require a stretchy fabric that dries fast. Manufacturers make Econyl® sustainable nylon brands out of reused nylon fabric. Factories have made this fabric from plastic found in the ocean, discarded old fishing nets and other fabrics.

The fabric feels and looks exactly like nylon, but it is recycled, too. People manufacture it sustainably, using very little water. Check for GRS and Oeko-Tex® certification.

5.  Lyocell TENCEL™

This fabric is a type of rayon, a semi-synthetic fabric made from wood pulp. Most of the wood pulp is from eucalyptus trees, which don't need much water or pesticides to grow. Initially made in Austria by the manufacturer Lenzing, Lyocell was given the trademark name of TENCEL™.

We manufacture the fabric from trees grown in sustainable forests. The process we use is a ‘closed loop’ production process, which reuses 99.5% of the water required. Check for an Oeko-Tex® certification.

6.  Modal

This comfortable, breathable fabric is semi-synthetic, as we make it from the wood pulp of beech trees. But it does use chemicals during production. The production process isn’t as toxic as the process used to make rayon or viscose, but it’s more toxic than during Lyocell TENCEL™ production. 

As the cloth drapes very well, we use it to make dresses and skirts. We use a similar method to make this fabric to how they make Lyocell TENCEL™. So this is why it's important to check whether the manufacturers are environmentally aware. Check the fabric for an Oeko-Tex® certification.

7.  Wool

Sheep Wool is a completely natural fibre, like leather. We make it from the wool of a sheep and it's 100% sustainable, organic wool. It's ideal for winter garments as it has moisture-wicking properties and regulates the body's temperature. The fabric is biodegradable. maake dyes it with environmentally friendly dyes instead of dyes that contain chemicals.

There have been questions about the sustainability of sheep farming. Animal welfare is a major concern, which is why we always question ethical knitted products. Check for standards like The Responsible Wool Std (RWS) and Woolmark for this material.

Merino Wool is fabric provided from Merino sheep, much of which is reared in Australia and New Zealand. Again, it’s best to check the knit product’s standards, particularly RWS and Woolmark.

8.  Cashmere

We make this luxurious soft, warm fibre from goats’ hair. People usually rear cashmere goats in Asian countries. One can source sustainable virgin cashmere fabric where workers use sustainable hand-combing techniques.

To be sustainable, farmers rear the goats in spacious areas where they can graze freely. Look out for the Good Cashmere Standard® (GCS), The RWS and Woolmark standards.

9.  Down

Down comes from from duck and goose feathers. We use this warm, soft fabric for various products. It’s environmentally friendly as it’s a waste product. These feathers would go to waste if we didn't use them to make down material.

Aside from the waste aspect, it's also important to find out whether the farmers treat the ducks and geese humanely. If they do, we consider the down 'environmentally friendly'. Check for certifications, which include the Responsible Down Std (RDS).

10. Silk

Silk is sustainable: it’s also antibacterial, soft to the touch and compostable, making it perfect for various products. We produce silk from silkworms. 

'Peace silk' or 'Ahimsa silk' is the most sustainable silk. They make this fabric without harming the silkworms, who live in natural conditions without any chemical sprays or insecticides.

The worms' lifespan includes evolving into butterflies. This type of silk has a certification as  OTEX Organic Silk.

maake’s guide to sustainable textiles 

100% GOTS Cotton

·       Optic White Organic Panama: Organic, GOTS cotton, bleached version of our Panama cloths. Very durable mid-weight canvas fabric. It's popular to use for bags and home accessories like curtains and cushions. Prints vibrant colour.

·       Organic Calico Natural: GOTS-certified, unbleached version of our Calico Cotton textile. Great for crafts, quilting and sewing homeware products like cushions, aprons, etc. This calico cotton prints a more muted shade.

·       Organic Drill Natural: Unbleached version of maake’s popular Drill Cotton fabric. Strong, durable cotton drill fabric with a slightly speckled appearance. Popular for making dresses, tailored and casual fashion clothes, aprons, cushions, tea towels and other home accessories.

·       Organic Leve Panama Natural: 100% GOTS cotton Panama fabric.

·       Organic Panama Natural: 100% GOTS cotton Panama fabric.

·      Organic PoplinClassic lightweight cotton poplin material, ideal for shirts and other similar clothing items. This is the natural version of maake’s popular Cotton Poplin fabric and is ideal for year-round use. It’s durable, lightweight and smooth with a plain weave. Can print on the front and back of this cotton material.

·       Organic Satin: Luxurious 100% GOTS cotton fabric with a matte finish – the natural version of maake’s Satin material. Ideal for home fabrics (throws, curtains etc), bed linen, clothes and accessories. It boasts a smooth print face, but frays at the edges. The cotton cloth prints stunning bold shades.

100% GOTS – natural blends

·       Organic Jersey Interlock: Natural Jersey Interlock fabric with a 2-way stretch (not as stretchy as 4-way stretch textiles). Smooth textured knit textile. When you print on this material, the colour is slightly lighter than when you print on cotton fabric. Used for kids and adults fashion clothing and accessories.

·       Organic Lily Jersey: A combination of 93% GOTS cotton and 7% Elastane, this lightweight smooth cotton jersey fabric has an excellent 4-way stretch. Perfect for leggings, T-shirts and kids clothing. Prints lighter than when you print on cotton or polyester. And it’s safe for kids.

Recycled Polyester (rPET) fabrics – lycra

    • Active Eco Lycra: Environmentally friendly material, a lightweight blend of GRS-certified Recycled Polyester and lycra. It's smooth and stretchy, which makes it perfect for activewear, swimwear and accessories. Colours print vibrantly. 
    • Recycled Eco Lycra: The perfect blend of 78% Recycled Polyester and lycra, this strong, environmentally friendly fabric has a smooth surface and great stretch. Great for activewear and loungewear items. Colours print vibrantly on this recyclable material.

Read our informative blog on Recycled Polyester here.

Recycled Polyester (rPET) fabrics – other types

  • Eco Basketweave:This natural 100% polyester fabric is sustainable and made from over 65% Reprieve Recycled Polyester fibres. It’s perfect for homeware accessories like cushions, table linen and curtains. Prints vibrantly. This chunky weave fabric has a natural feel and a soft, structured drape.
  • Eco Fleece: Warm, comfy, versatile and safe for children, this textile is our eco version of Cuddle Fleece. It’s 100% Recycled Polyester with a soft print face, ideal for cushions, blankets, fashion clothing, pet beds and more. Prints vibrantly. 
  • Eco Linen Look: Made from 53% Recycled Polyester and 5% linen, this textile is perfect for table linen, home décor accessories including curtains and cushions and fashion clothing. Boasts a structured drape.
  • Eco rPet Canvas:  An eco canvas textile is 100% polyester – 45% of which is recycled. It’s environmentally friendly, tough, very versatile and a good choice for bags, interior products, art projects, etc. It prints vibrant colours.
  •  Eco-Sprint Knit: 100% Recycled Polyester blended with elastane, ideal for dresses, sweatshirts and hoodies, and kids clothes.
  • Eco Taffeta: Lightweight, durable, crisp 100% Recycled Polyester textile with a slight sheen. Suitable for clothing and accessories, it prints vibrant hues.
  • Eco Velvet: A 100% Recycled Polyester textile that is very soft and matte, making it perfect for home décor, light upholstery and fashion clothing. It has a slight stretch. Colours print vibrantly.

It's time to get creative and eco-friendly

Review and choose your preferred sustainable material from our collective. Then it’s time to print on it:

Browse our extensive Design Library for easy solutions

      Create your own image

 

April 21, 2024 — Artemis Doupa