Renewable materials, like bamboo, cork and sustainably-sourced spandex, are materials that replenish at the same rate at which they are used. Responsible sourcing means that harvesting does not exceed the plant growth rate, preventing deforestation.
Bamboo is an amazing plant for clothing and wood. It can be harvested every 3 years, making it an excellent choice for sustainable sourcing. However, don’t be confused by “Rayon made from bamboo”, as this material is still highly unsustainable due to the necessary use of harsh processing chemicals.
Bark from cork trees can be used for materials every 9 years! Sourcing specifically from the outside of the tree prevents damage to the trunk, which encourages years-long cork production. Not all cork is harvested the same, so double check each company to ensure proper practice.
Lenzing Modal® and Tencel Lycocell® are fabrics made from the pulp of sustainably harvested beech trees. The process produces a material similar to viscose rayon but is softer and uses an innovative environmentally friendly process that recovers up to 95% of the production material.
Spandex and polyester are in a new age. With recent technology, companies are able to produce these fabrics from renewable raw materials, like used water bottles and corn. However, not all stretchy fabrics are made the same. Be sure to research the company practices and policies to make sure that the impact is low and the material is renewable.
Hemp is a renewable resource that grows more quickly than trees and requires less maintenance. Hemp is often grown organically as it grows well without herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides. The resulting fabric is durable, holds its shape, and is biodegradable.
Renewables aren’t limited to just materials - this also has to do with how the materials are harvested, processed and transported to the customer. Choose clothes that were produced by clean energy methods, like solar, wind, hydropower and biomass. This limits the amount of carbon dioxide in the air and mitigates the effects of climate change.