The material we choose for our clothing can make a difference both in the terms of the environment and in wearing comfort. I recently posted about the eco-friendly socks my husband likes. Did you know that other clothing can be eco-friendly without breaking the bank? In fact, using eco-friendly materials that do not need dry cleaning can save you money. Look for clothing made from:
- bamboo - This material traps warm air yet breaths well with wicking. This action draws moisture away from the skin to the outer layer of the fabric. Bamboo does not hold odours and is said to have anti-bacterial properties. This fabric is soft to the touch but is rugged and durable. It is a little more expensive but pays for itself in durability. The main drawback is solvents used in the manufacturing process can end up back into the watershed although if the fabric was woven this may not be an issue.
- hemp - Hemp is a hardy cash crop that grows well in Canada. It requires no fertilizers or pesticides and very little water is required. Hemp is a bit more rugged than bamboo and it even provides UV protection. It is about 4 times more durable than cotton. The main drawback with hemp is the price. While the popularity is growing, hemp is still a niche market which is reflected in the price.
- organic cotton - Cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world. Avoid this problem by buying organic cotton grown without the use of pesticides and fertilizers. You will pay extra for organic cotton because it is more susceptible to pests. Cotton is comfortable but the least durable of the other eco-friendly. Aside of the price, organic cotton is hard to find.
- wool - Wool is about as natural of a fabric as you can get. It is an excellent insulator, ideal for outdoor clothing. If the wool garment has been pre-shrunk and well made it can last a lifetime. The main complaint with wool is it can shrink when wet and there's the itch factor.
Other fabrics you may want to consider that are also eco-friendly include:
- soy - a natural byproduct of food production that can be woven into fabric
- merino wool - specially bred for superior fleece
- alpaca - lighter and softer than sheep's wool, about 100% hypoallergenic, 50 natural colours
- linen - made from the fibers of the flax plant, natural cooling fabric
- polar fleece - made from recycled plastic bottles, does not breath well