The Conscious Fabric Guide – a little directory to help you understand which fabrics and fibers we work with. The materials we use are carefully sourced. We strive for the best possible option regarding the fiber production process, including CO2 emission, toxicity, energy consumption, water consumption, and land consumption.
However, we still care for comfort and style, and that fantastic feeling of silky and smooth fabrics on our skin. That is why we tied ourselves down to some options during our research process: 100% TENCEL™ Lyocell, 100% Organic Cotton, Linen, Bamboo Silk, and Organic Wool.
(made out of TENCEL™ Lyocell, produced by the Austrian Lenzing company)
TENCEL™ Lyocell fabric is made out of beech or eucalyptus wood, sourced from sustainable forestry. The cultivation of those timbers does not require the use of pesticides, nor artificial watering. The company which manufactures the fabrics has Lenzing certification for all use of TENCEL Lyocell fibres, GOTS certification, (Global Organic Textile, OCS (Organic Cotton Standard) and RCS (Recycled Claims Standard
During the production of TENCEL™ Lyocell, the air-emissions are 4 g sulfur dioxide (SO2) and 2 g nitrous gases (NOx) per kg TENCEL™ Lyocell. The water emission is 230 g sodium and magnesium sulfate and 11 g chemical oxygen demand.
WATER AND SOLVENT CONSUMPTION
The Austrian company, which produces TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers, developed a circular recycling system, enabling them to recover 99,7% of process water, and used solvents. Therefore the recovering of employed chemicals is equally high. The water consumption for the TENCEL™ Lyocell production is 100l/kg; twenty-times lower than the water consumption of producing Conventional Cotton.
Viscose, like TENCEL™ Lyocell, is made out of wood, respectively, cellulose. The significant difference is the manufacturing process. The production of Viscose fiber requires the use of toxic chemicals such as sodium hydroxide solution, the dangerous CS2 and ethanol. The innovative Lyocell fibers, sold under TENCEL™ Lyocell, are produced using the non-toxic solvent N-Methylmorpholin-N-oxid (NMO).
Chemical fibers, such as Polyester and Viscose, consume a large number of fossil fuels, such as mineral oil, and therefore cause a particular high energetic balance approx. 72,8 MJ/kg. TENCEL™ Lyocell production's energetic consumption is reduced to 21 MJ/kg. TENCEL™ Lyocell is biodegradable – at the end of their lifecycle, the fibers become part of our ecosystem again.
(organically grown cotton, also called eco-cotton)
Organic cotton is cotton from plants that are not genetically modified and certified to be grown without any synthetic agricultural chemicals. The farmers do not use fertilizers, pesticides, or defoliants. To ensure that the given standards are met, supplying farmers must abide by the EU regulation 834/2007.
CO2 emissions – kg CO2e per kg of fiber:
Organic Cotton: 2,5 vs. Conventional Cotton: 6.
The higher-emission steps during the production of clothes, e.g., t-shirts, contribute to 88% of the total emission.
This is why we work with factories in Germany, Portugal and Turkey ensuring their energy balance is optimized and as sustainable as possible.
ORGANIC COTTON & FARM LIFE
Organic Cotton production is a systemic approach that aims to establish a diverse and balanced farming ecosystem, ideally including all types of crops and farm activities. Farms typically need to complete a 2-year conversion period to change their production system from conventional to organic.*
An essential element of organic cotton production is the careful selection of varieties adapted to local conditions in climate, soil, and robustness to pests and diseases. Soil fertility management and crop nutrition are based on crop diversification and organic inputs such as compost, mulch, and manures.
Chemicals such as substances with high adsorbable organic halogen (AOX) values, bluing agents, chelating agents, chlorine compounds, and formaldehyde are used in conventional cotton farming. All those substances, however, are prohibited for use on organic textiles.
According to a study conducted with organic farmers in Odisha, India, the most significant environmental changes are improving soil conditions, diversiﬁcation of cropping patterns, and reducing released toxic agrochemicals to the environment, and preserving biodiversity.*
According to farmers' experiences, their living conditions improved and their health due to organic cultivation. The food security increased, and farmers could invest in their children's education and improve their living standards.*
Farmers, who shifted from conventional cotton production to organic production, registered reduced input costs. This cost-reduction is caused by chemical inputs, which are replaced by self-made organic fertilizers and bio-pesticides. Furthermore, seeds are now available through cooperatives and self-supply.*
(the fiber is called flex whereas the fabric is known as linen)
Linen is made out of Flax. The cultivation of Flax itself is very resource-efficient in terms of water and energy consumption. The fiber's extraction, processing the material, and use and care contribute to a higher energy balance. However, still, Organic Flax is one of the most sustainable fibers you can use.
Luckily the world's biggest flax producers are France and Western Europe, so the emission due to transport is lower than Organic Cotton.
THE TENCEL LINEN MIX
Our fabric is made out of Tencel and Linen – a super soft mixed material we love because of its tenderness. It is also less susceptible to wrinkling; it means more free time instead of ironing...
Only few, if any, chemical pesticides and fertilizers are required in the cultivation of Flax. In fact, often, Flax comes close to the organic standard without even trying.
Flax is a renewable resource and grows very fast. Furthermore, Flax does not need artificial watering. We strive for fabrics, which are processed with the dew retting technique and are manufactured without the harmful use of chemicals and pollutants.
(Our only fabric which is imported from overseas, as bamboo doesn't grow in Europe)
Bamboo is a natural fiber that grows like Topsy. Bamboo is ready for harvesting within 4 years and does not require re-planting. Its extensive root base sprouts new shoots readily — one reason why bamboo is such a sustainable fiber.
Bamboo is a renewable resource and grows very fast.
(Part of a fabric we use in skirts and the shimmering top, combined with TENCEL)
The linter of the fibers is refined and dissolved and transformed into a pure regenerated fiber. This raw material is pre-consumer waste.
The company, which produces the Bemberg Cupro fibers, Asahi Kasei, made a great effort in reducing the environmental impact by employing innovative technology within the production process of the Bemberg Cupro fibers. In 2017 Bemberg Cupro acquired the Global Recycled Standard certification by Textile Exchange. This certification guarantees transparency within the supply chain and traceability of recycled material and products. Asahi Kasei achieved almost 99,8% of zero waste emissions in 2016. The fiber waste from the Bemberg manufacturing process is reused as fuel for power generation.*
(Wool which is certified as following KbT Standards, which means the animals' welfare is top priority)
Wool biodegrades readily on land and water – as a protein-based fiber, wool does not contribute to microplastic pollution. Furthermore we use animal-friendly wool only which is kbT "kontrolliert biologische Tierhaltung" (controlled organic animal farming) certified, so the animals welfare is guaranteed!
KbT certified wool follows the standards of ecological agriculture and also is perfectly adjusted to the regional climate and living conditions of the animals. Species-appropriate farming of animals is the main objective. This includes no feeding of genetically modified food and no usage of fattening aids. The animals' procreation has to be natural and any sort of procedure like tail docking and mulesing are strictly forbidden.
(A German company recycles polyester fabrics, hence existing plastic products are re-used)
With producing lining fabrics using REPREVE® yarns, the anew consumption of mineral oils is avoided, hence less greenhouse gases are emitted and the production process saves other valuable resources such as water and energy.
With REPREVE®, Uniﬁ's recycling fibers, PET plastic bottles and other plastics products are recycled and transformed into innovative lining fabrics. Billions of plastic bottles go into landfills every year. REPREVE® is eco-smart. The leading, most trusted, branded performance fiber made from recycled materials (including plastic bottles).
*Resources Made-By (2011): Environmental Benchmark for Fibres (Condensed Version), Research performed by Brown & Wilmanns Environmental, LLC, California, USA.
Muthu, S. S. (2017) Sustainable fibres and textiles. Woodhead Publishing
Altenbuchner, C., Vogel, S. and Larcher, M. (2017) 'Social, economic and environmental impacts of organic cotton production on the livelihood of smallholder farmers in Odisha, India', RENEWABLE AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SYSTEMS, 33(4), pp. 373–385