What does a sustainable manufacturing process look like? To be considered sustainable, a company or product should: use less water and energy during production, use materials made from renewable resources or waste products, have reduced chemical waste and emissions, and products should be biodegradable. With the intersection of sustainability and technology, more and more sustainable fabrics and materials are being made available, making your next pair jeans more environmentally friendly.
We’ve created this guide to explore some of the more popular materials on the market and help you become a more environmentally conscious consumer!
Recycled cotton reduces the amount of new cotton being produced and used, and reduces the impact of cotton farming. Cotton farming not only requires 250 billion tons of water annually, but also heavily relies on pesticides.
Some of our recycled cotton products include:
Recycled Polyester (rPET)
Made from recycled plastic bottles, this process diverts plastic from landfills. Plastic is melted to make fibres, which can be turned into fabrics. These fabrics can then be turned into products such as t-shirts, reusable grocery bags, and backpacks!
Hemp is an eco-friendly crop, requiring little water, pesticide, or fertilizers to grow quickly. Fabrics are also biodegradable.
Strong and durable, bamboo is another plant that grows quickly and easily, and doesn’t need pesticide or fertilizers. Bamboo can not only be used as a fabric, but for other eco-friendly goods, such as cutlery, toothbrushes, cutting boards, etc.
Looking for bamboo products? Here are some of the bamboo products we carry.
Did you know cork comes from trees? Harvested from the bark of cork oak trees that grow in Mediterranean Europe and North Africa, cork is sustainable and renewable. Cork is naturally elastic, fire resistant, cushioning, anti-microbial, biodegradable, and buoyant, making it a fantastic material for items such as shoes, and leather and wood alternatives.
Produced from the flax plant, linen uses less resources than cotton. Whereas 2,700 litres of water are required to make a cotton shirt, a linen shirt will only require 6.4 litres of water. Linen is not only a great choice for clothing, but also for bedding, aprons, bags, napkins, etc.
Other Sustainable Materials
Biodegradable refers to products that can be broken down quickly by microorganisms, fungi, or bacteria, and safely leave nothing behind. For an item to be considered biodegradable, at least 70% of organic ingredients need to break down within 28 days.
To reduce dependence on traditional plastics, biodegradable resins are derived from plants such as corn and soybeans, making them biodegradable and compostable. They are widely used as plastic substitutes for items such as single-use plastics (e.g. cutlery, disposable food packaging), cosmetics, and medical products.
Seed Paper Offcuts
Seed paper is an eco-friendly paper made with recycled materials embedded with plant (e.g. wildflower) seeds. After the paper is used, it can be planted.
What happens to paper after it has been recycled? To reduce deforestation and paper going to landfills, recycled paper has been used for many purposes, such as being turned back into paper products (office paper, greeting cards, magazines), packaging and containers, and even fabrics!
Similarly, washable paper, derived from plant fibres, is another eco-friendly option that has been used as a leather alternative to make anything from bags to wallets.
Wheat straw is a byproduct from grain harvesting, and when the leftover stalks are used to make plastic, it becomes compostable! It is most commonly used for straws, but is great for other plastic replacements.
Fabrics and Materials to Avoid
Synthetic fabrics such as polyester, rayon, spandex, acrylic, nylon, and rayon are made from petroleum and/or coal-based chemicals, making their production harmful to the environment. Materials to avoid would include products made with new plastic.
In honour of Earth Day, we’re focusing on sustainability tips this week. If you missed it, here are:
- 4 ways to reduce waste in the kitchen
- tips on how to be sustainable anywhere
- 5 tips to shop more sustainably
You can find all the products listed above, and more, in our Boss Promotions Earth Day catalogue!