What Are Your Clothes Made Of?

Have you ever wondered?

Before I started Sundaze, I had no idea what different fabrics were made of or how they were created. To be honest, it probably never even crossed my mind.
 When I discovered that swimwear could be made from recycled fabric and that it was insanely more eco-friendly, I knew I wanted to not only be an eco-friendly brand, but also spread awareness of sustainable fashion
I created this guide to help educate everyone on how fabrics are made so you can make educated shopping decisions.  
From a sustainable point of view the there are two main distinctions on how fabric is made:
You might think that natural fabrics are 100% better for the environment, but that is not always the case.  A fabrics sustainability level is judged based on what it is made of and the process it undergoes to become clothing. Here is our ranking of sustainable fabrics from most sustainable to least sustainable.
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Linen and hemp are both naturally grown fibers with the least amount of environmental impact. Linen is made from the Flax plant and hemp is made from the Cannabis plant. 
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 PROS:

-Only need rainwater
-Doesn't attract pests = no toxic pesticides
-Very durable fiber that gets softer over time
-Antimicrobial 
-Biodegradable

CONS: 

-They shrink and wrinkle easier than synthetic plastic based fibers
-Cannabis products are illegal in some countries
-Tends to be more expensive

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Tencel and Rayon are both natural fibers made from plants. Tencel is made from wood pulp and Rayon is made from bamboo. These are both sustainable fabrics depending on how they are produced. 
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 PROS:

-Biodegradable

-Bamboo grows like a weed and doesn't need a lot of nutrients or protection from pests

-Wrinkle free

CONS:

-Require toxic chemicals to break down the plants into fibers to create the fabric.

**Some companies recycle the chemicals which is sustainable, but others dump the chemicals into the environment (more common with rayon then tencel) 


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Silk is a natural fiber made by harvesting the coccons from silk worms, before they transform into a butterfly. The production of traditional silk is not very ethical because it involves boiling the silk worms alive. In recent years vegan silk has hit the markets. The most common form of vegan silk actually still uses silk worms, but removes them alive, safely before harvesting the silk. There are also plant based silks and synthetic silks. 
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PROS:

-Natural and Biodegradable

-Soft

-Super strong

CONS:

-Kills the silk worms

-Synthetic silk is plastic based 

-Plant based silks aren't very accessible 

 

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Econyl is a recycled synthetic fabric made from breaking down nylon waste such as fishnets, carpets, and fabric and transforming into new recycled fabric
What it is used for: Swimwear, Activewear such as workout clothes, leggings, carpets, fish nets.
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PROS:
-Recycling old nylon eliminates of the negative impacts of traditional nylon, because the plastic fibers are repurposed
-High quality fabric
- less likely to stretch out or fade
-Can be recycled an infinite amount of times
-Reduces the amount of trash in the ocean and land fills
CONS:
-Ecoynl is still made from plastic so it still sheds microfibers. 
What you can do:
 -Reduce the amount of times you are washing you econyl fabrics
-Hand wash
-Buy an adapter that filters out microfibers so they don't go down your drain 

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Despite popular belief, cotton is not very eco-friendly. The cotton industry can account for 25% of the world pesticide usage and uses mass amount of water to produce the fabric. This pollutes the environment and also can be very harmful for the workers farming the cotton. Organic cotton farms do not use pesticides, but only account fo 2% of the worlds cotton farms. Most of the cotton you see is a cotton blend instead of 100% cotton. Cotton blends are blended with polyester and nylon to make them more durable, and stretchy, but this also makes them plastic based and no longer able to biodegrade.
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 PROS: 

-100% cotton is a natural fiber
-Moisture wicking
-Light weight
-Affordable

CONS:

-Requires about 2,000 gallons of water to produce 1 t-shirt
-Non-organic cotton can account for 25% of the worlds pesticide usage 
-Cotton blends are the most common and are made from plastic 
-Most cotton fabric is not high enough quality to be recycled into new fabrics

 
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Leather and vegan leather fall to the bottom of our list of some of the least eco-friendly fabrics. Regular leather is a natural fabric made from animal skin where as Vegan leather is most often a synthetic fabric made from plastics.
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Pros and Cons:

NATURAL LEATHER  

 -Very durable fabric and will last a very long time

-Produced by raising animals for slaughter and on a mass scale that is not sustainable or ethical.

-Chromium is used to tan the hides into leather most of the time. This chemical can escape tanning facilities via the air or waterways and it extremely toxic to humans and the environment.

VEGAN LEATHER

-Not durable - breaks down 5x faster then real leather

-Mostly made from PVC plastic.

-The production of this plastic releases chemicals into the environment and the air around the factories which is extremely harmful to humans and nature.

-Not biodegradable 


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Polyester and nylon are the  least eco-friendly fabrics. These fabrics are also probably the most common fabrics sold in the US and are found in over 50% of clothing. Polyester and Nylon are both synthetic fabrics made from plastic fibers that are derived from oil.
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 PROS:

-Affordable
-Durable
-Stretchy and comfortable

CONS:

-Made from crude oil 
-CO2 emissions are released while producing these plastic fibers
-Don't biodegrade and will last in land fills for 100s of years if not forever
-Most polyester and nylon is made cheaply so it cannot be recycled
-Plastic microfibers break off and end up polluting the planet.  

 
We hope this blog helps you understand more about where fabrics come from and their environmental impact. Here at Sundaze Bikinis we pride ourselves in using the most sustainable fabrics. 
All of our swimwear is made using the highest quality recycled econyl fabrics. These luxury recycled fabrics are superior quality to virgin fabrics without the negative environment impact. They are softer, last longer, and help repurpose plastic waste instead of creating new waste. Right now there is no biodegradable alternative to the stretchy swimwear fabric, but we do our best in being a sustainable company by always using the most sustainable option
We are very excited to announce we will be launching resort wear next week. We put a lot of time and effort into researching the highest quality, environmentally friendly fabrics. The first of our resort wear line is our Linen Shirt Dress made of 100% flax Linen fabric, complete with bamboo buttons. These shirts are all natural, sustainable and non toxic. We are so excited to finally be adding a biodegradable option to our website and we hope you love it!
 
 
 
 
 

1 comment


  • Abby Pruitt

    aloha- love this blog post! I really appreciate the time and energy put into researching this information and making it available to the public. absolutely LOVE my bikini top, even more so due to the sustainable aspect of this company!


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