Introduction – Biodegradable Clothes
Before we talk about biodegradable clothes, lets think about the life cycle of a piece of clothing. The hypothetical life cycle of a piece of clothing begins with the production phase. During this phase, the materials used to make the clothing are sourced, the garment is designed and made, and it is then ready to be sold. In the next phase, the clothing is sold and used by the consumer. The clothing is then eventually discarded and enters into the waste stream. Depending on the type of fabric, the clothing may either be recycled or sent to a landfill, where it may take decades to degrade.
Production Is The Major Contributor To Clothing Carbon Emissions
The production phase of the clothing life cycle is responsible for the most carbon emissions. During this phase, energy is used to source the materials, produce the garment, and transport it to the consumer.
The energy used in this process is usually sourced from fossil fuels, which emit large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Additionally, when the clothing is sent to a landfill, it releases additional carbon emissions from the decomposition process.
Synthetic Fabrics Are Worse For Carbon Emissions
Most synthetic fabrics are made from fossil fuels. Nylon, polyester, polyester, acrylic, and spandex are all made from petroleum-based materials, while polyethylene and polypropylene are derived from natural gas.
All of these fabrics are considered non-biodegradable and are not the most environmentally-friendly choice. A big class of next generation synthetics known as modal fabrics that includes Tencel and Lyocel are replacing conventional polyesters.
Natural fabrics are made from plants, animals, and other renewable sources. These fabrics include cotton, linen, silk, wool, and hemp. These fabrics are biodegradable, making them a more sustainable and eco-friendly choice. Natural fabrics at their source also absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during their growth. This means that natural fabrics have lower carbon emissions than synthetic fabrics.
Composting Is Superior To Landfill Waste Management For Clothing
When clothing is sent to a landfill, it produces methane emissions as it decomposes. This is because anaerobic conditions in a landfill mean that the clothing is not broken down properly and the methane is released into the atmosphere. However, when clothing is sent to a compost heap, it is broken down aerobically, meaning that the methane is captured and used to produce energy. This means that composting has significantly lower methane emissions than landfilling.
Related: Plastic Free Clothing And Biodegradability
Synthetic fibers are not the only material from fossil fuels in an item of clothing. Plastic items commonly found on clothing include buttons, zippers, hooks and eyes, snaps, buckles, and rivets. Synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon are also made from plastic. Additionally, chemical dyes and finishes used on clothing often contain microplastics.
All of these contribute to carbon emissions. Therefore, plastic free clothing is clothing made from natural, sustainable fabrics that are free of synthetic, fossil-fuel derived materials such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic. It is also free from chemical dyes and other toxins, and is often produced in an environmentally friendly way. Plastic free clothing is an important part of a more sustainable wardrobe that helps reduce your environmental impact.
Ideal Profile For Biodegradable Clothes
Therefore our final profile for a biodegradable piece of clothing is the following: 1) derived from a non–fossil fuel source, 2) lasts a long time, 3) degrades in a composting heap. It’s hard to find clothing that satisfies these somewhat contradictory requirements. After all, what can last a long time but also degrade in a composting heap? Therefore, we offer the top suggestions in the absence of an ideal option for you.
Top Brands For Biodegradable Clothes
Patagonia is a clothing company that is committed to sustainability. They use recycled materials in their products to reduce their environmental impact, and they donate 1% of their sales to environmental causes. They also partner with other companies to reduce water and energy consumption, and they are working to reduce their use of toxic chemicals in their production process. Additionally, they encourage customers to repair and reuse their products, rather than buying new ones, to reduce their environmental footprint.
Alternative Apparel is a sustainable clothing company that focuses on environmentally-friendly materials, ethical labor practices, and sustainable production processes. The company uses organic cotton, bamboo, and hemp fabrics in their garments, and they also utilize recycled materials and low-impact dyes. Additionally, they are committed to ensuring their workers are provided with fair wages and safe working conditions.
Reformation is a sustainable fashion brand that is committed to creating stylish clothing from sustainable materials. They use eco-friendly materials such as Tencel, organic cotton, and recycled materials to produce their clothes. They also use low-impact dyes and recyclable packaging to reduce their environmental impact. Additionally, they donate a portion of their sales to environmental charities and offer carbon offsets on their shipments. Reformation is based in Los Angeles, California.
Prana is a sustainable clothing company that is committed to using environmentally friendly materials and production processes. They use recycled and organic materials in their clothing, as well as utilizing low-impact dyes and sustainable packaging. Additionally, Prana has several programs in place to reduce their carbon footprint, such as their use of renewable energy and their commitment to reducing water usage in their manufacturing process.
EcoVibe is a sustainable clothing company that is based in Portland, Oregon. EcoVibe is a sustainable clothing company that is dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint and producing eco-friendly garments. They use natural and biodegradable fabrics such as hemp, linen, and organic cotton, and their garments are not treated with any hazardous chemicals. They also use sustainable energy sources and have strict recycling policies to ensure that their production process is as eco-friendly as possible.
Becoming More Involved – The Sustainable Apparel Coalition
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is a global coalition of apparel companies, retailers, and NGOs. They seek to create positive change in the apparel industry by promoting sustainable practices, such as reducing the use of hazardous chemicals, minimizing water and energy usage, and decreasing carbon emissions. The Coalition also works to increase transparency across the industry, so that consumers can make informed decisions when buying clothing.
You can get involved in the Sustainable Apparel Coalition by joining their online community, subscribing to their newsletter, or attending their events. You can also donate to their cause or purchase clothes from brands that are members of the Coalition. Additionally, you can sign petitions and write to government officials to support legislation that promotes sustainability in the apparel industry.
On a personal level you do not have to restrict yourself to changing your buying practices. You can also close the sustainability loop by donating your clothes, even socks and underwear as long as they’re near new or gently used.
Conclusion – Biodegradable Clothes
Finding biodegradable clothes will be hard. Look first for sustainable clothing that is made from natural, biodegradable materials such as cotton, linen, hemp, and bamboo. It helps reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry by reducing carbon emissions, minimizing water and energy usage, and eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals in production. Second, focus on brands such as Patagonia, Alternative Apparel, Reformation, and Prana offer sustainable clothing options, and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition is a global coalition of apparel companies and NGOs that works to promote sustainable practices within the industry.