We have spent countless hours researching various fibres, their characteristics, how they are produced and their eco-credentials. As with all aspects of sustainability, it comes down to weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of each fibre as well as considering our own personal values.
Here we have presented a quick snapshot of each fibre we have chosen to stock currently. If you want to get into the nitty gritty with us we will be releasing blog posts where we discuss each fibre in detail in terms of their raw materials, where and how they are produced and their social and environmental impact. So keep an eye out if you like to nerd out on this stuff too.
- Strong, durable, highly absorbant and breathable
- Takes dye easily, does not pill, softens with wear, wrinkles easily
- Made from a variety of flax plant that grows largely in the cooler climates of Western Europe and China
- Resilient plant that grows with minimal need for fertilisers, pesticides or irrigation
- Processing is labour intensive which is reflected in a higher price tag
- Post-consumer care (laundering of garment) accounts for the majority of water and energy that linen will consume over its lifetime
We love linen. Once you’ve worn it, it’s hard not to right? We love linen for its eco-credentials but also as a fabric in its own right. Once shunned for its wrinkly tendency it has now sparked its own small fashion revolution. It really is the poster girl for the slow fashion movement and is paving the way for other sustainable fibres to emerge.
- Strong, durable, flexible, lustrous and absorbant
- Looks and feels similar to linen
- Fibres derived from a different variety of cannabis plant than that which produces the infamous narcotic
- Grows with minimal water requirements
- Requires few/no pesticides or fertilisers
- High yield, blocks weeds and improves soil health
- Environmental impact of processing depends on type of processes and machinery used, but can be done in an environmentally friendly manner
- Work is required to enable hemp to become a more mainstream textile in the fashion industry so that it can fulfil it’s potential as one of the most environmentally friendly textiles
Hemp is an underdog with a shady history but massive potential. Its environmental benefits outweigh most other fibres and many crops. It produces fabric which is long-lasting, durable and (despite popular belief) beautiful and comfortable. We are big champions of hemp here at P.S.C and we hope to make you one too!
- Soft, absorbant, lightweight and versatile
- Up to 1 billion people in low and mid income countries rely on cotton as their primary source of income
- Non-organic cotton uses huge amounts of water, insecticides and pesticides to grow. This causes dangerous levels of drought and water pollution in the regions it is grown
- Organic cotton requires significantly less water to grow and does not use pesticides or insecticides
- There is a long history and ongoing issues of human rights abuses against people working in the cotton industry
- GOTS certified organic cotton must meet strict criteria that encompasses environmental and social regulations
Conventional, large-scale cotton production is harmful to the planet and to people, we have chosen not to support this. We do believe it is important to continue to support the communities and economies that rely on cotton production and when produced responsibly cotton is a versatile, natural fibre with a more positive life-cycle than synthetic fibres.
We currently stock cotton that is certified as organic. Certification systems are not without their issues but we feel this is the best option for us at this stage. It costs money to obtain an official organic certification and some small scale farmers are unable to afford this yet may still be producing their fibre organically. Other smaller scale farmers may not be fully organic but may be growing their cotton more responsibly. This is also something that we would support however it will take time to source.
- Impressive thermal qualities, comfortable, stain resistant
- Long wearing, readily recycled and biodegradable
- Woolen garments require significantly less washing
- Made from fleeces of domesticated sheep which have been bred to produce larger quantities of wool which necessitates shearing
- Range of environmental and ethical concerns regarding agricultural practices, animal welfare and use of animals as a commodity
- Organic wool is not common but stipulates no insecticides, mulesing or genetically modified foods or pasture
- Different countries have different standards with regards to animal welfare protection
- Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) sets out animal welfare criteria and ensures traceability of wool to farm
There is no doubt that wool is truly a magnificent fibre and as avid knitters we are also avid wool lovers. In terms of its thermal performance it is hard to beat and the environmental benefits based on its longevity, lack of laundering, recyclability and biodegradability are significant.
Whether these benefits justify its production is somewhat up for debate and honestly not something we have fully settled on ourselves. For this reason, we currently only stock one yarn which includes wool which is GOTS organic certified. We would love to be able to provide more wool come the colder months however we need to do a bit more work before we will know what this can look like for us. So watch this space!
- Branded name for lyocell fibres produced by Lenzing AG
- Strong, long-lasting and absorbent fabric that is smooth and soft to the touch
- Fully biodegradable and compostable
- Made from wood pulp, typically Eucalyptus trees which are sourced from sustainably managed forests
- Processed using a closed loop system which recovers and re-uses up to 99% of water and solvents
- Lyocell, modal, viscose, rayon or in-trademarked Tencel fibres are not produced by Lenzing AG and therefore do not hold the same eco-credentials
- Branded name for viscose fibres made by Lenzing AG
- Soft, luxurious, lightweight and breathable, can resemble silk
- Made from wood pulp sourced from sustainably managed forests
- Uses up to 50% less water and CO2 emissions in production compared to generic viscose
- Biodegradable and compostable
- Transparent supply chain
Lenzing AG are clearly committed to producing high-quality fibres that meet consumer expectations but reduce the environmental impact of their production. In terms of processing, these fibres do require more chemicals than some other fibre options. Lenzing AG have taken real steps to reduce the impact of these chemicals on the environment. Garments made of these fabrics are luxurious and will stand the test of time. At the end of their lifespan they can biodegrade giving them the ability to participate in a circular economy in a way that fully synthetic fibres cannot. To us, this makes them a great eco-choice when you are looking for something a bit more ‘luxe’.
- Lightweight, absorbant and comfortable
- Made from cotton waste and scraps (largely pre-consumer waste)
- Not as strong or durable as virgin cotton
- Sometimes blended with virgin cotton or other fibres to improve its performance
- Produced mechanically, without chemicals
- Does not always require dying
- Recycled cotton cannot be further recycled into clothing but it can be ‘downcycled’ into things such as stuffing and insulation
Recycled cotton is a bit of a no-brainer. With most of the benefits of cotton but a much lower carbon footprint it just makes sense. We also love the unique look and feel of recycled cotton, with its touch of rustic charm and urban edge it’s definitely one of the cool kids on the eco-scene.