A deep dive into sustainable textiles

Sustainability has become a big topic of discussion in recent years, and rightfully so. In a world where we are becoming more and more populated, how can we continue to provide products and happiness without sacrificing our environment? What are the steps we can take to make sure we are being mindful producers and consumers?

Understanding sustainable textiles

In this day and age, where the fast-fashion industry is already causing tonnes of damage to our environment, we want to do as much as we can to ensure that we are providing sustainable and ethically made textiles to our customers. So, what exactly is sustainability when it comes to the production of textiles?

Sustainable fabrics are usually made from natural or recycled materials. They are created with little to no impact on the environment, from its manufacturing to its disposal. The product also must be designed to be durable and of high quality, to last a long time. There are three fundamental bases of sustainability that should be considered when it comes to textile sustainability:

  • Environmental sustainability: reducing the direct impact on the environment, i.e. water and energy use, water pollution, greenhouse gases
  • Social sustainability: ensuring fair and safe working conditions for workers without exploitative practices
  • Economic sustainability: should ensure that the products created are affordable for those in the geographical area

The difference between textiles

Synthetic textiles

Two of the most widely used synthetic textiles are polyester and viscose. The production of these materials is damaging to our environment, so it is important to avoid using them where possible.


Polyester makes up about 80% of synthetic fibre use globally, due to its cheaper cost, and is used for anything from clothing and accessories to home furnishings. It is lightweight, very wrinkle resistant, and takes colours easily, making it a top choice for fashion brands. However, polyester is not biodegradable, as it is made from fossil fuel chemicals, and uses up to 70 million barrels of oil per year for its production. When products made from polyester are thrown away and sent to landfills, these toxic materials leak into the soil and waters, causing pollution and damaging marine wildlife.


Similarly, viscose is cheap to produce and is often used to create clothing due to its light weight and soft touch. Although viscose comes from trees – specifically wood pulp – it is still not an environmentally friendly option. This is because the production of viscose involves a high concentration of toxic chemicals such as carbon disulphide, which pollutes the air and water. The production process of turning the wood into fabric also wastes around 70% of the original tree and a lot of water.

Sustainable textiles


We all know cotton. Cotton shirts, cotton sheets, cotton socks. Cotton is one of the most used natural materials, which has been around for about 8,000 years, and now makes up 40% of clothing manufacturing. Cotton is known for being soft and hypoallergenic, meaning even those with sensitive skin will have no issues wearing it (the same cannot be said of polyester). Cotton is also able to biodegrade in around 5 months. This makes cotton a much sought-after resource for fabric production. However, due to the increasing demand for cotton, there is an intensive cultivation process for producing it, leading to an increase in water use, pesticide use, and energy use.

Harvesting organic cotton is a regenerative process, meaning it requires far less water, and energy. Organic cotton is also grown without the use of any chemical pesticides or fertilizers, making it safer for the soil and the workers. Not only that, but it often is even softer and more durable than conventional cotton, due to the care taken during the harvesting process. One limitation of organic cotton is that its yield is around 25% lower than conventional cotton, making it more resources are needed to create the same amount. Organic cotton also tends to be more expensive than conventional cotton.

If you’re looking for another option to reduce waste and help the environment, why not explore recycled textiles?

Recycled cotton is made by processing pre-existing cotton and repurposing it to give it new life. This helps to reduce landfill waste and save resources used for farming cotton. Although recycled cotton may exhibit slight variations in colour and texture due to its recycled nature, it is a great option if you want to take a step towards reducing wasted materials.


Recycled polyester, also known as rPET, is another recycled textile that has lower CO2 emissions and reduces landfill waste. It has the same benefits as polyester, such as its light-weight nature and versatility. However, because it is still polyester, it doesn’t biodegrade like cotton does, meaning if it gets thrown away it is still probably going to end up in a landfill.



If you want to make sure that the fabric of the products you are providing, come from responsible production with transparency in their supply chain, there are certain certifications that you can look out for.

  • GOTS
  • Öko-Tex
  • OCS
  • GRS

If these certifications are shown that means that the materials were produced sustainably either through organic production or recycled textiles.

Selecting sustainable textiles for your business

Ready to take a step towards having a more sustainable assortment? It’s as easy as ever! Simply have a browse of our organic products and see if any of them would be a good fit for your brand. We also have some great sustainable brands that we can definitely recommend:

Stanley/Stella: Our go-to sustainable brand, and a personal favourite of our category manager Marcus. They have stylish, modern, and unisex cuts of high quality, which are made using organic cotton and recycled textiles.


Continental Clothing: A must have for lovers of classic, basic cuts of high quality. They use organic cotton and produce their products with renewable energy sources.


Spread Fashion: Inspired by Berlin’s spirit for individuality and creativity, SPREAD carries relaxed, fashionable and long-lasting fits. The products are produced in Portugal with organic cotton.


Spreadshirt: Spreadshirt also has a Premium Organic line, made from organic cotton in Turkey for high quality products to deliver best printing results.


With so much information out there about environmental impacts and sustainability, it can be confusing to know where to start. We are now lucky enough to have multiple options when it comes to making more responsible decisions for our planet. Taking the first steps towards selecting more sustainable and environmentally friendly textiles is an area where you can make a real difference.