Sustainable textiles (also known as eco-textiles and eco-fashion) means that all materials and processes, such as inputs and outputs, are healthy and safe for humans and the environment. All the energy, material, and material process inputs come from renewable or recycled sources in all phases of the product life cycle. Sustainable fabrics are materials derived from eco-friendly resources which are natural & organic, recycled, biodegradable, or from bio-based fibers.
Organic cotton, organic linen, silk, wool, hemp, etc.
Recycled polyester, often called rPET. It is a great way to divert plastic from our landfills. The production of recycled polyester requires far fewer resources than new fibers and generates fewer CO2 emissions.
Recycled Nylon has the same benefits as recycled polyester.
Most of the artificial fibers are made out of synthetic polymers, where the feedstock is petroleum-based. However, some are bio-based. Viscose, Lyocell, and Modal are typical and critical man-made fibers that are based on wood or other natural fiber as a renewable resource.
In this context of sustainability, a small but growing proportion of artificial fibers production is based on innovative raw material sources such as corn or vegetable oil. Typical examples are PLA fibers and bio-propanediol (PDO) out of corn, as a substitute for the oil-based PDO, for the polymerization of PTT polyester. The commercial name is Sorona. 37% of the polymer is made using annually renewable plant-based ingredients. Compared to Nylon 6 it uses 30% less energy and releases 63% fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Figure 1: 100% Polyester faux rabbit fur (left), 100% Polyester faux teddy bear fur (right)
The faux fur fabric is produced by wool, rayon (viscose), acrylic, modacrylic, polyester, and other polymers. (Please refer to the article "What is faux fur fabric?" for more details.) But, which one is sustainable?
As a natural fiber, wool fur is biodegradable and renewable. So, wool faux fur is sustainable.
Cellulose is the world's most crucial bio-based polymer by far. It is biodegradable as well. Therefore, rayon/viscose faux fur is sustainable.
Unfortunately, we still have not developed any sustainable technical of acrylic and modacrylic polymers. In this way, acrylic and modacrylic faux fur are not sustainable.
Figure 2: Polyester vs. Acrylic: Sustainable or not?
Unlike acrylic and modacrylic, we have two sustainable solutions in polyester items.
The first is rPET. rPET stands for recycled polyester. It's a member of the polyester family and is made from both post-industrial and post-consumer waste. rPET fiber is strong and achieves almost the same quality as virgin polyester. Our mill has certificated by GRS - Global Recycle Standard.
The second solution is bio-based polyester. Sorona® is the DuPont brand name for renewably sourced PTT (polytrimethylene terephthalate). Sorona® for faux fur is made with 70% to 100% bio-based Sorona® polymer fibers.
Figure 3: fiber's property of Bio-based and Biodegradable
Wool Faux fur fabric is a high-end item. Wool fiber, similar to real fur fibers, is an ideal substitute, and an extra degree of luxury can be introduced by using mercerized Merino wool yarns. Recycled wool is often used in woolen fabrics. As the product's character, we have not to find recycled wool faux fur in the market.
Viscose (rayon) faux fur has limits on variety. It usually is short hair items in woven. And the price is higher than both acrylic and polyester.
Acrylic and modacrylic: It's a pity that we can not have a sustainable choice.
Acrylic faux-fur still is the best substitution for some real luxury fur like mink, raccoon.
Polyester faux fur is much more worth concern about. First, we already have nice faux rabbit fur, faux teddy bear fur, etc., and their price is very
competitive. Second, they can be sustainable.
In 2019, Stella McCartney started using bio-based faux fur fabric as a sustainable material, put a "Fur-Free-Fur" hang tag on their garment.
New York-based brand HOUSE OF FLUFF introduces their most sustainable and earth-friendly, animal-free fur, "Biofur".
We believe that more and more fashion brands will plunge into this trend.