Prioritizing health and comfort.
Saja Elmishri, Contributing Editor at Curated Today and self-made sustainability expert, expresses the value in designers using sustainable materials in clothing to appeal long term to eco-conscious consumers.
The words sustainable or sustainability can mean many different things for different people but in its simplest form, defining sustainability, according to the Brundtland report in 1987, means meeting our needs without compromising the ability of future generations and without harming people, the planet, animals or exploiting resources in the meanwhile.
But what does sustainability have to do with fashion and your wellbeing? The same way you would apply suncream on your body to protect against the harmful UV rays from the sun, we need to consider what the material in our clothing consists of and how this affects our own bodies.
Did you know that polyester is the most common fabric used in clothing? But did you also know that polyester is a synthetic fabric that is derived from petrochemicals and is used in thousands of different consumer applications.
Polyester is a popular fabric used in sportswear because of its non-absorbent properties but it isn’t a material that you wish to wear for a long period of time. Reason is, what you wear on your body will affect your skin and your well-being long-term.
Below are a few examples of fabrics typically found in most clothing:
Cotton: The most widely used fibre. However do you know how this crop is made? You want to differentiate between conventional cotton and organic cotton, as with the conventional, the manufacturing of this includes involving a variety of harmful chemicals that will affect the livelihood of the farmers if not treated correctly. Next time you go shopping, buy clothing that consists of organic cotton, which is a natural way of cultivating cotton without using any synthetic chemicals or pesticides. It is also a better alternative for the farmers.
Tencel: If you are looking for plastic free alternatives to polyester, Tencel is one of the most sustainable fabrics that exists. It is very soft, breathable and less prone to wrinkles. Further, because of these qualities it works well during hot weather. Without getting too technical, it is made from wood pulps and using a special drying process that allows the wood chips to be mixed with a solvent during the spinning process. There are a variety of fabric mills that produce Tencel but Lenzing AG is the flagship brand for this textile. Also because of the cooling properties that Tencel has, it makes it a perfect material to use during a hot yoga session or the gym.
A good starting point is to check what your clothing is made out of and the kind of fabric that is used. By considering the small changes that you can make, you can help with making changes that better for your well-being and the planet.
Of course there are many more sustainable fabrics that exist out there. But by starting with the two most common ones and breaking down how they are made, this might inspire you to explore more sustainable clothings that are good for both your body and your well-being.