While we prefer to steer clear of animal products, alpaca wool is a renewable fiber with a much lower environmental than conventional wool. Each pound of alpaca wool saves 110 gallons of water. Mostly raised with lots of space in the Peruvian highlands, almost exclusively on small family ranches, the grass has ample time to regenerate, and the Alpacas are only sheared once a year under humane conditions.
There is no cruelty-free way of keeping Angora rabbits. The process of “shearing” the rabbits is difficult to monitor and, if not done correctly, is painful and leaves them in considerable pain.
Apple leather is a bio-based leather alternative derived from recycled food waste from the apple industry. It is strong, breathable, hypoallergenic, and suitable for many items, from footwear to clothing and accessories. A Last Yarn green star leather alternative, Long-lasting when looked after, Apple leather is vegan and biodegradable when no chemicals or pesticides are used in the process.
Bamboo is moisture-wicking, insulating and incredibly soft with a cotton-like appearance. While the bamboo plant itself is regenerative, quick growing, and requires little water, the process of converting bamboo into wearable fabric used a large amount of chemicals and around 50% of the chemical waste it generates cannot be reused.
BeLEAF looks and feels like real leather. Strong and durable it can be used for anything from footwear to accesories, for outerwear and even interiors. A Last Yarn green star, BeLEAF is made from leaves collected from sustainable forest floors and its production process actually cleans the environment as the process is organic 100% of the solid waste and water waste is reused and reintegration back to the environment.
Vegan and requiring very little water use cactus leather is a reasonably good sustainable leather alternative. That said it is only partially biodegradable due to its manufacturing process and has a limited life expectancy of around 10 years and there are questions regarding labour conditions.
Camel hair, also known as camel wool or camel cashmere, is a fabric made using hairs from the Bactrian camel. Their hair is combed out during their yearly molt, it is then collected and separated into fine hair and course hair before going through a process called dehairing, a chemical treatment. Huge amount of chemicals such as lime and sodium sulfide are used which generates pollution. However eco-friendly methods exist such as the application of enzymes to assist dehairing during the manufacturing process. It is then spun into camel hair yarn. Although Camel’s are not killed during this process the farming is questionable, they may be bred in masses to meet high demand and other animals may be killed or harmed to protect the farmland.
Cashmere is a natural and renewable fibre and its raw production requires limited chemicals. However increased demand for low priced cashmeres have been at the detriment of the environment, fibre quality, and herding communities. Keeping cashmere in the loop by recycling yarn is the most ethical alternative to cashmere production.
Non organic/non recycled cotton has unquestionable environmental impacts from pesticide use to water consumption. It is the largest textile contributor to freshwater and soil toxicity globally.
Econyl is recycled Nylon, made in a closed-loop system with considerably less energy, waste, and gas emissions than Nylon. Ideal for sportswear and swim, it is highly durable and resistant to tearing. Solution driven, Econyl is often made from old fishing nets that are polluting our oceans; however it is still plastic and as harmful to the environment as regular Nylon.
Faux fur is made from polymeric fibres that are processed, dyed, and cut to match a specific fur texture and colour. Unquestionably more ethical than real fur, faux fur nonetheless is made from petroluem and can take hundreds of years to biodegrade, inevitably ending up in landfill with microplastics entering our food chain. Bio-based alternatives such as KOBA offer a good possibility for a greener faux fur future.
Linen is made from flax which is considerably lower in carbon output than cotton and requires very little water to produce. It is durable, breathable, and kind to the skin as well as the planet.
Lurex + Metallic
Lurex is a synthetic fibre and cannot be recycled. So while we love things that shine we are super aware that sourcing second life metallic is also helping keep these fabrics out of landfill.
Green Star fabric, solution driven fruit leather is bio based and even home compostable. Farmers tend to discard up to 40% of their harvest in the fields because it does not visually meet supermarket standards, so we love that this also solves a huge waste issue.
Merino wool comes from merino sheep, predominantly exported from Australia where only 20% of farmers have proven to handle their animals with ethical care. Sheep farming is also responsible for extensive land degradation also impacting biodiversity. Wool is nonetheless a natural biodegradable fibre, but we would always recommend using responsible sourcing and choosing surplus or recycled alternatives wherever possible.
Green Star, Silicon Valley start-up Bolt Threads pioneered micro silk from bioengineered yeast to produce a vegan silk like fabric. It is exceptionally strong, lightweight, stretchable, and soft. Fully biodegradable in landfill micro silk would eventually break down back into the environment because it is just sugar water and yeast.
Modacryclic is petroleum based and poisonous to people and the planet. Every ton emits over five tons of carbon dioxide. Modacrylic is made from non-renewable fossil fuels which require a huge amount of energy to produce and is toxic in landfill. The manufacturing process emits pollution into air and water ways which harmful for both environmental and human health. These textiles take anywhere between 20-200 years to breakdown releasing formaldehyde, heavy metals, BPA and PFC’s into the air we breathe.
Modal is a semi-synthetic fibre made from beech trees, and has a similar texture to silk and cotton. Companies such as Tinsel have developed Modal with a closed loop system and low environmental impact. Most modal however is not produced in this way resulting in deforestation, pollution, and huge amounts of waste.
While mohair fabric is entirely biodegradable, Angora goats used for mohair are slaughtered well short of their life expectancy and the shearing process has also been proven to often be horrendously cruel. Goat farming also contributes to land degradation, as well as air, soil, and water pollution.
Mycelium (otherwise known as mushroom or MYLO leather) is bio based and works well for outerwear, accessories, footwear, and ready to wear. It is a favourite material for brands such as Adidas and Stella McCartney. A LY green star, mycelium is vegan, and bio based – formulated using green chemistry principles. It is even dyed using English breakfast tea!
Nylon / Polyamide
Nylon generates nitrous oxide, consumes huge quantities of water, and contaminates water supplies and the air we breathe. Nylon is toxic in production and in landfill.
Polyester is made from non-renewable fossil fuels, it requires a huge amount of energy to produce and is toxic in landfill.
Ramie is a durable, lightweight, natural linen like fabric made from nettles with a silky lustre that holds shape well. Ramie is perfect for winter dresses and warmer ready to wear. Ramie can be sustainable unless blended with wool or non-organic cotton, however blending ramie increases its durability and ultimately the products lifespan. Ramie grows well without pesticides, and uses considerably less water than cotton. Overall agriculture however continues to be one of the most dangerous industries and Ramies potential labour issues remain unknown.
An LY green star fabric, made from post-consumer yarn that has been painstakingly sorted. Recycled cashmere is natural and biodegradable, negating the negative environmental impact coming from the animal treatment and conditions as well as their carbon impact and land degradation.
Recycled Cotton [CO]
Comfortable to wear, breathable, and soft to the touch, Cotton is used in everything from shirting to denim. Recycled cotton is made from post-industrial, post-consumer, and cotton scraps. It has by far the best impact of all cottons and is an LY favourite. An LY green star fabric when correctly produced recycled cotton can greatly reduce water and energy consumption as well as reduce landfill waste.
Our favourite kind of wool, recycled wool is soft, breathable, natural, and durable. An LY green star, recycled wool not only diverts fabric from landfill but also saves a huge amount of water, reduces high grade land use, and avoids the use of chemicals, contributing to an overall reduction in air, water, and soil pollution.
While it is a natural and in theory biodegradable fabric, silk production emits a huge amount of greenhouse gasses, uses a huge amount of water, and pollutes freshwater sources. Not to mention the silkworms with an estimated 6,600 silk worms needed to make just 1 KG of silk.
Known as the vegan cashmere, in addition to being non animal based it is a lot easier to take care of than traditional cashmere. Soy fabric is made from the waste of soy oil by-products, like tofu. Soy is lightweight, wrinkle resistant, and machine washable. It is also moisture absorbent, breathable, UV resistant and anti-bacterial. It works really well for active wear too. Soy is biodegradable and compostable. However in order to become a fabric the plant needs to undergo a chemical process similar to Lyocell’s closed loop system which allows them to trap and reuse the chemicals (although one of these chemicals is formaldehyde – a possible carcinogen). Soy production also relies on large amount of pesticides and water and is responsible for large amounts of deforestation and habitat destruction.
Suede is the inner surface of animal hides. Extensive rearing of livestock for leather and meat has devastating impacts on deforestation, land overuse, gas emissions, and water pollution. The tanning process is also extremely chemically intensive. Not to mention the impact on the animals themselves. As a vegan company we at FS recommend that you avoid animal products wherever possible unless upcycled and opt instead for green textiles such as BeLeaf and Mycelium.