Shop smarter and create a more sustainable and ethical wardrobe
Today the costs are enormous for the environment and for the people who make clothes. Just one pair of jeans requires about 1,800 gallons of water to make, and to make that many jeans quickly and cheaply, factory workers are often underpaid and work in unsafe spaces. We are not here to tell you that you should stop buying. But there are ways to shop smarter and create a more sustainable and ethical wardrobe.
The most important thing is to know how the clothes you have bought were made and what materials were used to make them. Materials/fabrics use countless resources, from oil, soil and water, to pesticides, chemicals and dyes. With new materials in production all the time and industry standards changing, we understand it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which ones are up to the task ethically and which ones are worth investing in as a conscious consumer.
That is why we have selected the following types of materials that we have found to be the most successful and that you can most certainly find on any shelf or even in your wardrobe:
Bamboo: the cultivation of bamboo requires little water and in its cultivation no type of pesticide is used. Most bamboo fabrics are made in China and while the Chinese government has cracked down on the most damaging production processes in recent years, we still need to certify that any bamboo farming system is done sustainably and that safe processes have been used. In any case, bamboo fabric remains one of the most sustainable options.
Cotton: It is a soft and light material, which is usually associated with high-quality clothing. One of the advantages of cotton is that it is completely biodegradable. Although, conventional cotton (generally the one with the largest share in the industry) is an extremely harmful crop since the process of turning cotton balls into colored fabric uses various chemical processes for its treatment. In contrast, organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides, from natural seeds, and the practices of this type of agriculture avoid the use of harmful chemicals, helping sustainability. Generally, garments that are created with organic cotton have a longer shelf life than products that use conventional cotton.
Linen: It is one of the most biodegradable and elegant fabrics in the history of fashion. It is resistant to moths and is made from vegetable flax fibers. When not dyed it is completely biodegradable. It is one of the most sustainable options on the market, we just have to make sure that when buying the garment it is in its natural tones (such as gray or tan colors).
Lyocell Tencel: is a fabric created by the TENCEL™ brand and is produced from wood. The result after a chemical treatment is a breathable fabric that is perfect for sportswear. TENCEL™ manages to obtain this type of fabric through sustainably managed plantations and by reusing the chemical solvent in their fabrics they avoid generating more waste. It is an alternative to conventional cotton.
Recycled wool: it is a natural fabric and very useful to extend the life of the fiber. As a result, garments are manufactured with the same excellent qualities as those of virgin wool, but with less environmental impact. Recycled wool is obtained through different fabric waste or garments used for the creation of a new thread. Recycled wool is often mixed with recycled polyester to increase the strength of the yarn and the durability of the fabric.
Recycled nylon: it is a fabric made with nylon waste, which is obtained through used and discarded products. Instead, virgin nylon is made with different chemicals derived from petroleum, which has a negative impact on our planet. Recycled nylon is the best option for many reasons, it is a strong and durable fiber that is more sustainable and respectful of the environment.
Monocel: is a yarn made from lyocell bamboo fiber and works as an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional cotton. It is one of the few sustainable materials that is as soft and strong as cotton.
PET Plastic: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) is a highly recyclable plastic resin and an alternative to polyester. Working with these types of recycled materials keeps plastic waste out of landfills, greatly reducing carbon emissions and requiring less energy to produce.
In short, we are aware that materials and fibers in the fashion industry are a complex topic. What is clear is that every material used in clothing today has some kind of impact on the planet. At Ukuthula, we do everything possible to work with the best materials, carefully analyzing the information that exists and consulting with experts.